Fast Food Wages for Fast Food Education

The reduction in pay by Argosy University for its online instructors, from a reported $2,200 per course to $1,600 per course, is creating a stir. Disciplinary associations, the New Faculty Majority, and the Coalition on the Academic Workforce, see such dismal pay as “exploitation.”

I’ve been witnessing efforts to unionize “exploited” graduate students and part-time faculty since my days in graduate school in the 1990s. Such efforts came with the ideology of redistributive economics and an assumption that wages should be increased by demand–to the taxpayer.

Since earning my Ph.D. in 2002, I’ve managed to survive (key term) by working as a part-time instructor. The lowest I’ve been paid is $2,100 per class at a community college. I’ve heard of other Georgia public colleges paying between $1,800 and $3,000-plus per class. I know of one colleague in Missouri who teaches for $1,500 per class, a shockingly low amount, given the work involved, especially for the online classes he teaches.

As a supporter of the free market I believe that Argosy has the right to set salaries at what the market will bear.

But the market is being distorted by federal financial aid to all students regardless of scholarly inclinations or abilities. At the community college we were told to regard students as “customers,” and to dumb down the material.

The college installed multimedia stations in classrooms, and implemented costly remediation programs and sub-academic programs, like “service learning” initiatives, to compensate for “customers” lack of academic qualifications.

As colleges are churning out unqualified graduates, they are churning out an excessive numbers of ill-educated Ph.D.’s–as witness the rise in my field of English of those who study popular culture.

When the market is distorted by federal dollars you get fast food education. And the workers earn fast food wages.

Mary Grabar

Mary Grabar is a visiting fellow at the Alexander Hamilton Institute for the Study of Western Civilization.

3 thoughts on “Fast Food Wages for Fast Food Education

  1. Are you sure you don’t mean Lorain County Community College in Ohio. Absolutely the worst of the worst with faculty constantly hectored and then terminated for “failing to respond to the needs of the student community”. Unless of course you’re SEIU. Now THAT’S riding the gravy train for life.

  2. When is college not college? When they “implemented costly remediation programs and sub-academic programs, like “service learning” initiatives, to compensate for “customers” lack of academic qualifications.”
    Is there anybody, anywhere who wants to argue anymore about the dumbing down of America? We don’t need computer models; hard data and curriculum lists will do. You would think liberal “educators” who think highly of themselves would get embarassed after a while, but apparently, collectivist ideology trumps professionalism and what used to be a relentless pursuit of knowledge and learning.

  3. I understand something now that I have found mystifying for several years and that is the number of “College” graduates who can not write a basic sentence. I retired as a Probation Officer and one of the requirements of holding such a position is the ability to write a Pre-sentence report. These reports are used by the Judiciary to obviously sentence the Defendant, thus they are a critical tool. Those who can write these reports and not embarrass the Department are given the most difficult cases. Those who cannot are recycled through adjunct programs to try and teach them to write, of course this is all while they are being paid. This ends up with the few doing the work for the many. I was often perplexed how such and such University graduated these diploma holding individuals when they had a skill level equivalent to a Walmart worker. After reading the above article, it all makes perfect sense now. “The market is being distorted by federal financial aid to all students regardless of scholarly inclinations or abilities”. God help us all.

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