Professors for Austerity

I received this extraordinarily stupid email from my professional organization:

URGENT CALL TO ACTION: Please endorse the MLA Statement on Higher Education by calling Senator Murray’s office at 202 224 2621 TODAY in support of tuition-free public education as well as the conversion of adjunct instructors to tenure-track faculty. The requirement that institutions reach a quota of 75% tenure-track workforce is now being considered for inclusion in the new budget reconciliation bill.

Sounds cute, eh? But the link these idiots provide to explain the proposed bull bill actually says this:

In April of this year, the MLA issued a statement supporting the College for All Act, a bill that would make most public colleges and universities tuition-free and reduce student debt. Crucially, the act included a provision requiring institutions to reach a quota of 75 percent tenure-track workforce instruction to receive federal funding.

So what does this mean? We won’t get federal funding because we can’t reach the 75% quota. And we can’t reach it because our already scarce funding will be slashed plus we can’t charge tuition. This is a nifty way to get facile idiot academics to support austerity. This College for All Act is nothing but a ploy to destroy public higher education system.

We are begging to get defunded because we can’t process the simplest information. All we know is how to chant slogans.

17 thoughts on “Professors for Austerity

  1. WTF. I haven’t been a member of the MLA for decades, so I missed this, but why would professors support free tuition? Do people not want to get paid? Do they have any idea how little funding most public universities now get from the state? (Hint for those who haven’t seen the budgets: Not enough to cover salaries.) And public universities don’t have huge endowments, like some private schools. This is possibly the stupidest thing I have ever heard of. If I hadn’t already given up on the MLA, I’d sure stop contributing to them now.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. But the federal funding will be cut for people who don’t have 75% of tenured faculty. Which we can’t have because without tuition there won’t be any money to pay the faculty we already have, let alone hire anybody.

        These are con artists. They are tricking us.


        1. The bill says, you get $ and then have 5 years to get to the 75%. What they really want to eliminate is the practice of paying per course as opposed to hiring full time with benefits, I discern.


          1. No. What they want to do is eliminate affordable public colleges like mine. What else needs to happen for people to start suspecting that these bastards aren’t on our side? Their only goal is to immiserate us and make their corporate masters even richer.


            1. Again: it’s not tenured faculty. It’s tenured and tenure track, which in the AAUP-type terms they’re using means FTE with some kind of security and path to advancement. You probably DO have that many, if you add the tenure track, the tenured, and the instructors on continuing appointments together. At my place we do, even though there are adjuncts / part timers in some departments.

              My department has: 1 person technically adjunct (but he’s not going anywhere, and gets benefits in his other job), 4 instructors FTE, and 11 professors, all tenured now. So 16 people, and we’d need 12 of the 16 to be at 75% professorial or research faculty. I’d be delighted if we could replace the next instructor who retires with a tenure track person, and this would be the act of Congress that could do it. HOWEVER, from the POV of eliminating adjunct status, all the university would really do is convert that one guy into an FTE instructor, which is what I think they want to do anyway.

              (It is really a pain in my department because there is enough money in some of those instructor lines to hire TT. But the university prefers MA and no research agenda, if they’re in a field they need taught but do not want to develop.)

              What this bill would really destroy is actually the U of Phoenix and similar, the storefront schools, the for-profits, not places like yours.


  2. “requirement that institutions reach a quota of 75% tenure-track workforce ”

    Not very bright people will certainly think this means university would suddenly open up tenure lines and hand out tenure like popcorn…


    1. Really not-so-bright people. Like clinical idiot type of people. If you remove a large part of your income, will that mean you’ll have a lot more money? Hmm, let me think. What a complex problem.


      1. The American Comparative Literature Association sent in a similar email: “Dear ACLA members,

        Adjuncts and graduate students compose 50% of the ACLA membership. Today I am calling upon you to read the MLA Statement on Higher Education below and to endorse it by taking the suggested action. Tuition-free public education and the conversion of adjunct instructors to tenure track faculty are at stake in the new budget reconciliation bill to be decided by Congress. We have only two more days to affect the final version of the higher education provisions in the bill.”

        I now know what “ass” in “association” stands for. These are stupid, stupid people.


  3. I don’t know anything about how public US universities are funded, but this makes so little sense to me that I wonder if the email is designed to game academics politically ie to build a database of which academics support the 75% measure so that they can be promoted or incentivised to do something, followed by reducing the 75% figure to 60% or something later or whatever the actual plan is.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right? Anybody with a functioning brain should be able to see that this is ridiculous. Let’s take away 2 out of 3 of your sources of funding and then you can spend a lot more. Yay! What a brilliant plan!

      I’m surrounded by extraordinarily dumb people. This blog is a breath of fresh air.


      1. Maybe they’re trying to destroy or undermine all of the benchmark colleges in the same way control groups have been destroyed in vaccine studies.

        Logically, small colleges that don’t get much in the way of grants, donations etc are more reflective of the true cost of a college education than the ivy league schools that charge so much money that they’re more or less a racket.

        Since the future of education will involve a lot more high quality recorded material, it makes sense that smaller unfunded colleges like yours would end up offering material that is near on par with whatever the ivy league schools offer, which in turn would lead to a cost comparison between them, and a revealing of the scam.

        It has been my experience that a lot of the authoritarians in charge are closet Marxists who try to undermine, dilute, or destroy anything that they can’t control or that competes with something valued by their elite friends.

        Since this crazy theory makes more sense than the proposal itself then why not.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Many years ago, my German roommate commented that he and his friends were protested against free tuition that they have in Germany. He said that they wanted to pay tuition because, without paying, the professors treated students like bums and free-loaders.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. There was no tuition at the University of California when I went there. There were fees of about $600/year. My parents had paid about $25, and my grandmother nothing. University was state supported and strong. One of the things about it was that if someone failed a course it didn’t also mean the financial hit it does now. Professors were better paid then than now, also, in real dollars, and the contingent faculty, to the extent that they existed, were full time with benefits and a path to advancement. Need based financial aid was more generous than now and came in the form of grants more often than loans. I could say more.


    1. The state of Illinois promised us a flat budget, which means no increase but no cuts either. 95% of our college’s budget is tied in salaries. What are we supposed to do if the tuition goes? The state is refusing to invest a dime more in public education. What can we possibly do? There’s nothing else to cut.


      1. At that point, it’s time to send an apologetic letter to all the diversity and inclusion commissars at the school, explaining that the budget has been cut, and unfortunately, the school needs to eliminate some positions, but since the professors are needed to teach classes…


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