Is Graduate School a Racket?

 

Megan McArdle writes about the grim prospects for graduate students:

Last week, I wrote that collectively, faculty need to deal with the terrible market for professorships by producing fewer potential professors: admitting a lot fewer students to graduate school….There are two criticisms I’ve received that seem worth responding to. The first is that I myself work in a profession that looks a lot like a tournament….[The second is:] Why not unions? Why not unionize the adjuncts and get them paid on par with the tenure-track professors? Better yet, why not convert all those positions to tenure-track lines?

By chance, I was talking to a professor buddy of mine about this just last week. His take was quite different: he thinks that unions love adjuncts and part-timers and have largely abandoned the interests of full-timers. This is because three part-timers produce three times more union dues than one full-time tenured professor. State legislatures love part-timers too, because three part-timers cost less than one full-time tenured professor. As a result, the number of tenure-track positions in his department has gone down from 22 to 8 in the past couple of decades. This is not because they have fewer students. They have more. It’s because the vast majority of classes are now taught by part-timers.

Now, obviously this might differ between teaching universities and research universities and between private and public universities. It also might differ from department to department and from state to state. But I know that a lot of professor types read this blog, which is why I’m throwing it out. Has the ratio of full-timers to part-timers plummeted everywhere? Is there a reason for this beyond pure cost savings? What role do unions play? Educate us in comments.

 

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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