Community colleges throughout the nation seem to be teaching their students on the cheap. And is it in the best interest of the student to be taught almost 60 percent of their community college education by part-time professors? Probably not, but that is the reality.
Part-time faculty teach more than half of all credit-earning classes and about three-quarters of all the developmental classes at community colleges, according to a report released by the Center for Community College Student Engagement (CCCSE) at the University of Texas at Austin.
In 2009, the 987 public community colleges in the United States hired more than 400,000 faculty members, and 70 percent of them were part-time hires. Between 2003 and 2009, the number of full-time faculty grew by about 2 percent compared with a 10 percent increase for part-timers during the same time period, according to the CCCSE report.
Currently PCC has 1,108 part-time instructors with 118 of them being hired since the beginning of this school year. But the college has only 373 full-time instructors, according to figures provided by the Faculty Association.
How can being taught by so many part-time professors be good for a student’s education and future? Especially when these part-timers are basically ignored by the administration and left to teach on the fly.
Part-time faculty usually will learn which courses they’ll be teaching just days before a semester begins and lack many resources they’ll need to help insure a successful education for students.
“Their [part-time professors] access to orientation, professional development, administrative and technology support, office space and accommodations for meeting with students typically is limited, unclear or inconsistent,” the report said. “Moreover, part-time faculty have infrequent opportunities to interact with peers about teaching and learning…and rarely are included in important campus discussions about the kinds of change needed to improve student learning, academic progress and college completion.”
At PCC part-time professors get little if any benefits such as pensions or medical, dental, and vision insurance. They have no rehire status or seniority and only get paid about $3,000 per class, which forces many to have to teach at various campuses. Most also have full-time jobs outside of the classroom. Some declined to talk to the Courier, fearing that they would be denied future contracts.
PCC must find a way to better include part-time professors into our family of higher education and stop treating them as just visiting second cousins. We put most of our students’ education in these part-timers’ hands, yet we deny them a much-needed hand for them to do their jobs successfully.
Has this administration become so bloated and bureaucratic that sacrificing a quality education for students became the only way to save money?
Fast food chain restaurants are notorious for hiring mainly part-time employees with little or no benefits. With so many part-time professors, Pasadena City College should change its name to the McCollege of Pasadena.