Adjunct Teachers Prop Up Higher Education, Seek Rights

Ann McClure's picture

As tuition soared at American colleges and universities in recent decades, so did the number of part-time, non-tenured faculty teaching America's students.

Adjunct teachers account for about 70 percent of instructors on college campuses, up from about 43 percent in 1975, according to the most recent numbers from the Department of Education.

"The usual justification is (university) finances. Most part-time faculty are paid on a course-by-course basis. They have no say in the curriculum, no job security. ...They are essentially functioning as a disposable work force," said John Curtis, director of research and public policy for the American Association of University professors.

Adjuncts are demanding better treatment as they carry more of the load. This week, that drive showed itself on one Pittsburgh campus as the non-tenured teachers at Duquesne University went public with a plan to form a union.

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