About a year ago I wrote about my working journey and how things were going to change. A full year later, let me assure you the changes are. . . astounding
I am caught in the same loop the standard adjunct finds themselves in all across the nation. Some pitiful figure like one in five of us will ever gain tenure-track positions. Of those who do get hired, only 10% are hired at the school where they adjunct. This means it’s becoming increasingly clear to me that the likelihood of my securing full-time employment at the school where I currently teach is shockingly low.
And it makes sense. I remember Steven Leavitt’s chapter from Freakonomics on incentives. Currently my employer has less than zero incentive to hire me. Why? I am engaged in the equivalent of full-time employment from a teaching perspective. They have from me all of the teaching they would ever want at what I calculate to be about 30% (or less!) of the cost of a full-time professor. Of course there are a variety of other attributes I could easily bring to my employment – my knowledge of state policy changes, my understanding of some of the drivers of continued student improvement and success, my experience with recruitment and retention of minority students, and obviously my sparkling personality – but those things count for rather little when asking them to pay me 70% more.
As such, I can’t help but feel like I’m either going to have to accept a lifetime of adjuncting, go to school for certification to teach high school, or find another career altogether. In the meantime, I can’t help but feel like I’m stuck in the unenviable position of supporting a broken system without any voice or power to change it. Of course then I feel as though my continued participation in the system only empowers it to roll on.
Of course I don’t mean this to be a pity party for me. We’re not hurting financially – it’s why I can do what I do. This is not really much more than an acknowledgement of where I am and where I would like to be. I’m a good teacher who loves what she does and gets measurable growth from her students – exactly the kind of person who should be retained. Unfortunately, my years of adjuncting and applying for full time positions to no avail have driven me to the verge of leaving the profession altogether. I guess the saddest part of all is that I’m not alone. I know plenty of amazing teachers who have left the profession for lack of compensation, support, and most of all, respect.