Source: I MATTER
When I was a youngster (in the 1960s) going to college was only for the fortunate or for those who had the funds to do so. For the fortunate, it meant if your parents did not have the means and someone saw your potential, and you proved yourself worthy, you were given a hand-up. The rest of us received vocational (office or shop, etc.) training, while others were simply taught reading, writing and arithmetic and became another type of laborer.
My younger sister was the fortunate one in our family. She received both a Bachelors and Masters of Arts degree in the Social Sciences. I, on the other hand, was prepared for a lifetime of ‘clerical’ work and was able to achieve a middle class status doing so. I asked my sister, why not a PhD? Not many people ever felt the need to pursue one and it was thought the few who did, were genius, elevated and untouchable. Overtime, more people have pursued four-year degrees and the measurement has risen even higher by some employers who now demand some of their skill set to have a master’s degree for entry. Given the profession my sister choose, a PhD was not required nor was it something she wanted to pursue.
My daughter interrupted my nap one afternoon and announced (at five years old) she is going to attend college; I laughed and told her “first we have to get you through kindergarten.” I, at the time, did not entertain the thought of her going beyond the first four years of undergraduate. But somewhere in her pursuit, someone made an indelible impression on her and she decided she wanted to teach at the college level – thus requiring a PhD.
Wow, impressive – and even more impressive since not many African American females ever achieve that status. Moreover, in her field of study there were no professors of color and neither were there many female students or people of color at the colleges she attended. The prospect of becoming a professor, she thought, could help diversify and broaden the perspective for many who would study under her. Unlike the profession of attorneys’, her choice was not known or thought to be inundated and oversaturated with students.
Preparation to become a full-fledged professor took approximately ten years and included working as a professor’s assistant, teaching,, research and other administrative duties, all with pauper’s wages (or no wages) and no perks in return. Lack of financial gain at that level is the norm and chalked up to apprenticeship. Surely, at the end of her hard work and sacrifice, she would prevail and it looked promising.
For the most part of my career, I worked in corporate American. And in my world, (by comparison) our worth was measured on skill and the ability to follow. I was not trained nor do I consider myself to be an academic (as I often described my daughter). Given my daughter’s natural talent and gifts, I encouraged her to fulfill her life’s dreams and not to follow in my footsteps because it seemed respectable and was as good as life had to offer most people we knew. Corporate America restructured and shifted from a meritorious to a ‘highly’ competitive environment. With that shift, the need to shake out the ‘old’ vested types for new fresh and innovative – lower paying individuals became paramount. Many loss their positions (deemed no longer needed) and many positions were outsourced at cheaper labor costs. Often, I worked side-by-side with consignment workers, who were trained to do ‘tasks’ at reduced wages. Moreover, the corporate cleanse began during the time my daughter was pursuing her education.
Unknown too many, academia chose to follow the corporate model sometime in the 90s. But, being too heavy with vested professors – who typically do not retired until they have to, they had to engineer a slightly different model. In comparison, an academic’s career could well exceed the average retirement age of 65 as those in my peer group. Although I am not an expert on the restructuring that has and is taking place within academic institutions, I know first-hand the impact it has had on my daughter’s career and the choices she has had to consider. However, I am aware of the diverse opinions and emotion directed towards those who speak out about the plight of the under-valued professor.
When I think about what is being offered our youth today with regards to their academic careers, it bothers me, and I worry that they are not receiving the full benefit of their education because instead of full time PhD’s, these institutions are relying on adjuncts instead. I am not suggesting that adjuncts are not qualified or dedicated professionals, I am suggesting that given their wages and length of visitation, they do not have the resources and often can provide only a condensed educational experience. Yet, many are held to the same standards as the tenured professor. In effect (in my opinion), some institutions have become task oriented employers (like the corporate model) – dolling out bits and pieces of work, thus lacking the ability to produce young scholars or mid-level thinkers.
Conversely, why should more be expected from adjuncts when they are offered pauper’s wages and no benefits? How fair is it that adjuncts spend a lifetime of learning and preparation and the investment of thousands of dollars in pursuit of their desire to educate, only to be reduced to a level of poverty and strife? Furthermore,, until more is demanded of institutions, one should expect to get ‘what you pay for.’
Few understand how academic institutions operate. Few know what it is to be an administrator who pulls in six figures and receive the most perks versus a tenure-professor (nowadays) at an institution. If it were known, I am certain few would condone the variance in wages and hiring practices between the two – given we pay huge fees and entrust our children’s future to these institutions. Few know that when a school speaks about the number of PhD’s per student, the PhD’s they are counting are largely Adjunct Professors.
Few know, these professors are rotated – recycled and not readily accessible to the students. Consequently, continuity, mentoring and the development of students beyond the classroom is diminished.
We should be angry with the institutions/corporations, not the part-time, temporary, contract, adjunct, consignment OR whomever we often misdirect our opinion and anger towards, simply because they are visible, need employment and desire equal wages – with benefits.
I am not “Mary Margaret” (Vojtko)*, but I know of her; she is a vital part of my life as she should be yours.
For more information about the adjunct crisis in higher education see:
It is difficult finding inexpensive gluten free food, let alone soup in a can. Since everyone was feeling ill in our household, including my grandbaby who has Celiac Disease, I had the challenge of coming up with a soothing meal.
When he was diagnosed with CD, it forced me to examine some of my own health issues. The disease is often hereditary and upon seeing and learning the affect it had on him, I began to understand the health issues I have been living with for many, many decades. I guess it was easy to accept my issues and internalize them to the point of blaming myself (because the doctor did not have an answer). I always knew there had to be an explanation but had given up after numerous general practitioners, internist and osteopathic doctors failed to identify my problem. After all, I did not have any real health issues (at the time) that were visible to them other than my weight and the irritable bowels – constipation – diarrhea.
I had one doctor who came very close to diagnosis; he took me off of all carbs – including fruit. I lost a lot of weight but other issues surfaced that required additional medications and supplements to combat. The worse part for me were the debilitating migraines (I had not suffered with in more than a decade.) that the no carb diet triggered. Eventually, I had to give up the diet and needless to say, I gained the weight back almost immediately.
Admittedly, I am a self-diagnosed gluten sensitive individual. Given my past history with medical doctors, I did not want nor need one of them to solidify what my body knew long before I (or they) accepted or realized that gluten is an issue for me.
Needless to say that for the most part, we have become a gluten free family since half are sensitive and half are not. So when everyone was feeling ill, I was challenged to come up with a meal that we all could eat and feel comforted by. Naturally, chicken soup came to mind. But I was not in the mood to cook it from scratch. So I bought:
32 oz. container of organic, gluten free, chicken broth, frozen peas and carrots and gluten free (brown rice) pasta and a half of rotisserie turkey breast.
I added the peas and carrots to the chicken broth and let them slow cook while I prepared the pasta.
Once the pasta finished cooking, I drained it and seasoned it with a little butter, salt and garlic powder.
When it was time to serve it, I put some pasta in a bowl and spooned over the broth and vegies, then added some turkey pieces to top it off.
Since this was my first time attempting this, I did not play around with seasoning. Also I intentionally held back on the seasoning since we were all having flu like issues. It had a fresh homemade taste and much to my delight, everyone loved it. Moreover, we had more than enough to go around and at a very affordable cost.
The next time I make this short-cut gluten free chicken soup (when we are not ill), I will likely add other ingredients (like celery and a little pepper, etc.). Yum-yum!
My grandchildren went back to school last Wednesday; Friday evening my granddaughter said she was sick. Okay – this is her first year attending school here and I figured she is likely to become ill since she is new to this region. While her Mom attended her needs, I asked her to refrain from hanging out in my bedroom as they all like to do. Next, the baby started feeling sickly. But being a baby, not much was keeping him down during the day. By Sunday, the middle grandson started complaining. I did not want to hear nor believe it; I thought it was a case of empathy and wanting mommy attention too.
It’s Monday, my stomach is a mess with cramps and nausea; my head is swirling around and I am only sitting in this chair typing this post watching him on his downhill slide with this virus thing. He is the worst of the three; as soon as his temperature rises, he commences to moan and groan. When he was an infant and he had a high temperature, he displayed the same trait. It was so bad, one of the parent’s got up and announced he could not take it any longer and left the waiting room. I have to admit, he did sound as if he were dying and it was hard to hear a baby moan in agony.
Anybody who knows me, knows I hate being sick. I’ve been living with my family since I retired and ever since I have been subjected to the germs they bring home; and it is always during the school year. In the past, I would totally remove myself from the ‘sick’ person. But I can’t do that now; this is my family – I love them. Although my granddaughter tried hard to keep her distance from me, it really is impossible since we are all sharing this space.
But how do we stop this madness? We are healthy eaters and rarely eat out. We eat plenty of fruit (packed with acai and blueberries) and vegetables and the kids are typically not allowed ‘junk food’. I hate being ill and am always in denial when I am. I don’t believe in just laying down. I have to move around and help myself if I can.
My grandson asked me why I did not tell them I was not feeling well. I said, because I don’t have a mommy to take care of me and your mom is quite busy taking care of the three of you. He did not understand that. Of course not; he could not possibly know that I do not allow his mother much latitude when she doesn’t feel well; mostly because she has children to raise and like my mother (who mentored me), we can’t just simply lay down and do nothing.
When I lived alone (out of state – far away from them) and had a bad case of the flu, for two weeks I had to get up take care of myself. Then, there was the time I had knee surgery – and was on leave from work for six weeks – while a few friends attended to my needs, I spent 98% of the time alone. So, I know it is possible to keep one foot in front of the other. Don’t get me wrong, I do help my daughter a lot, but foremost, she is the mother and I like the privilege of being the grandmother and all that it entails.
If the school year is starting out like this; I dread what could be coming. I only hope our immunity will kick in and the rest of the school year will not negatively impact us.