Attacking Merit in a Bumbling Bureaucracy: The University of California Leads Again

Over 6,000 non-tenured University of California (UC) lecturers are threatening to go on strike again. This follows an October 12th collective bargaining offer from UC, which the lecturers criticize as insufficient to satisfy their demands for better pay and job security.

Adjunct faculty from UC San Diego and UC Santa Cruz claim that the 4.3% pay raise in UC’s offer is inequitable and unsustainable. A typical part-time UC lecturer makes $27,000 per year, and his full-time peer makes about $57,000, compared with a full UC professor’s average annual salary of $200,000. This glaring pay gap partially explains a 20.5% turnover rate among the UC teaching workforce in 2020.

Compounding the pay gap is the fact that the world’s most comprehensive higher education system hires significantly more staff members than faculty, creating a bumbling bureaucracy. As of October 2018, UC had 114,569 full-time staff personnel and 47,858 full-time academic employees. Considering its fall 2018 student enrollment of 286,271, the system boasts a 2.5-to-1 student-to-staff ratio and a 6-to-1 student-to-faculty ratio.

And what is UC doing about the looming strike? Dumbing down further and indoctrinating even more. After permanently abandoning SAT and ACT scores last year, the UC Board of Regents is now considering the advice from the UC Academic Senate to also do away with Smarter Balanced, an alternative standardized test.

In the meantime, the system embraces the woke machine more than ever. Last month, UCLA Law’s Critical Race Studies Program issued a job post for a Project Director to “address the current attacks on Critical Race Theory (CRT) and anti-racist education, training, and research.” The two-year contract starts at $9,166.67 monthly. The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy at UCLA is seeking a full-time Federal Policy Director to “conduct policy-related work, research and to write in the field of sexual orientation and gender identity law” at $9,500 per month. Another UC flagship, UC Berkeley, was reported to spend $25 million per year and pay 400 employees to advance “equity and inclusion.”

The mutually reinforcing trends of “adjunct-ification” and “bureaucratization” are not specific to the University of California system. In the last three decades, the growth of non-academic administrative and professional employees at American colleges and universities has considerably outpaced growth in the number of students or faculty. Among the stagnant ranks of university faculty members, 75.5% (as of 2009) were off the tenure track, and over 50% of these non-tenured positions went to part-time adjuncts. The hierarchy of academic titles exposes not only unequal pay, but also inequality in academic freedom: teaching assistants, substitute lecturers, and adjunct professors have far less autonomywhen it comes to curricular designs, classroom management, and research initiatives. They are also more likely to lose their jobs should they neglect to toe the progressive party line.

Tens of millions in public funds, money that could have been used to tilt the higher ed playing field, are instead diverted to feed the bumbling bureaucracy, an institutionalized pattern that rewards inefficiency and bolsters dubious ideologies. Public and private universities alike gladly spend enormous sums on non-essential personnel and spend extravagantly on politically correct edicts of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI). Most top-tier American universities claim either DEI or anti-racism in their mission statements, while they only lip service to intellectual diversity.

Schools also embed these ideological mandates into academic hiring. The University of San Diego, for example, requires job candidates applying for Assistant Professor of Philosophy to submit a “diversity statement.” The diversity statement requirement is a trend in college hiring emulated by schools across the country, such as the University of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma State University, and the University of Oklahoma, all of which hail from a conservative state that currently mandates meritocracy and bans CRT.

But this needless social engineering has not improved academic performance in American higher education. A new National Bureau of Economic Research study, for example, finds that college graduation in recent years can be attributed to lowered standards and grade inflation. Higher ed’s decline has also spelled grave consequences for our global competitiveness. A 2020 Department of Defense report on industrial capabilities shows that the U.S. lags in STEM education, leading to “a severe shortage of technical talent in the U.S. workplace.” The American Action Forum estimates that in 2024, the U.S. will be short 1.1 million STEM workers overall. In 2019, America’s ranking in the Global Competitiveness Index slid down one place: while the skillsets of American graduates ranked 5th in the world, business leaders were less confident that they could meet the needs of a global economy.

Perhaps it is time for a systemic overhaul and a faithful return to a truly liberal higher education system. Starting this process surely requires more than a labor strike, which pushes vulnerable academics into the arms of labor unions, presenting another set of political challenges. Reformers may take inspiration from the ongoing, parent-led movement for accountability and transparency in K-12 education, a national groundswell spurred by the widespread invasion of critical race theory and race-centric thinking in America’s schools. Parents and taxpayers can take notes from a parallel movement for school choice and homeschooling at the K-12 level. When they see through the hallow façade of a shiny Ivy League degree, consumers in the marketplace of ideas can vote with their feet and effectively cheapen the demand for these degrees that value conformity over critical thinking.

For the time being, UCLA Law should give its lecturers a pay raise by eliminating the $10,000 monthly budget of a pro-CRT administrator.


Image: NativeForeigner, Public Domain

Wenyuan Wu

Wenyuan Wu is Executive Director of the Californians for Equal Rights Foundation. Twitter: @wu_wenyuan

6 thoughts on “Attacking Merit in a Bumbling Bureaucracy: The University of California Leads Again

  1. The STEMies are not particularly skilled word-smiths but they know enough to avoid the insults of the feckless “suits” in the “front office”. Those who built corporations, empites, and nations, knew enough to deal with the essential “STEMs” because they were useful and productive. Most of the current “Woke” don’t even know what they don’t know.

    I did a few tours as a “suit” on the production floor. I was bilingual, in Officialis and Real World English.

    Most of the non-STEM managerial class think that their “words” mean something. Mostly they babble like children or politicians. They are the ones in the offices with big windows. Like the “Woke”, they have no idea what they don’t know. They see a world of dim shelf-stackers, and have no idea of what goes on in “engineering”. I rather enjoyed President Trump since he “pushed” and needled people,but he knew what every cover plate cost and the damned toiltets better flush and the lights batter work at close. In comparison, we seem to be over-run with half-wits who don’t have a clue about how things work and who makes things work. The world is just a block on a flow chart that they cribbed from some Summer course they took.

    A friend was “let go” and then “rehired” as a contractor to ride herd on 3-4 Indian replacement engineers who were waiting until their parents found them a suitable wife. In the “old days” experienced engineers and chemists were promoted and then took a few courses to learn some “management” skills. Now we have people with “management” or “busininess administration” (or “political science”) who haven’t the faintist idea of what the boxes on the flow-chart represent.

    I don’t know what will make a difference. If someone can’t do the math or the chemistry, they should not be managing engineering or pharmaceuticals. Even those in “finance” should have a clue. Otherwise, being useful at Starbucks is a stretch. I don’t know how we should pick our leadership. Whatever, what we have now isn’t working.

  2. The CRT pushes the “theory” that the modern African American population is “troubled” because of “racism” but that overlooks the selection process among the West African tribal population that brought the “slave” population into the international slave trade. For centuries, individuals were valuable in the tribal “Empires” (especially the Akan and Oyo Empires) either as fighters or as the workers who fed, clothed and armed the fighters. Those who couldn’t fight or work were a burden on society and were sold off into the Slave Trade in exchange for printed fabrics, and rum. It is no surprise that the descendants of that population of useless, non-productive, and un-cooperative individuals are the “troubled”, un-productive, and un-cooperative African American population that today produce our poverty stricken, ghetto dwellers. They are not the product of “Slavery” their founding population was selected for “Slavery” due to the characteristrics of being un-productive, un-cooperative, and generally “useless”. In comparison, recent African immigrants seem to do well enough in education and business. “Race” is not the problem. “Racism” is a catch all for the reaction of many to the descebdants of the “defective” slave population that were “dumped” into the Slave Trade. It is, I believe, common knowledge that a superior IQ is not necessary for most jobs. It is unfortunate that the ability to cooperate and to “do the job” are absent in much of the African Amaerican population. It isn’t “Racism”. It is simply the fact that most of the descendants of the “useless” are just as “useless” as their founding population. Like Grandfather like Father like son. The only “White” failing was to “buy” the defectives and to think that they would prosper under the opportunities they would have.

    “BIPOC” is a Leftist pipe dream; a fantasy. Most immigrant groups despise the African Americans for their inability to take advantage of the opportunities that were spread before them. The immigrants (legal and Illegal) came to build a future for themselves and their families. They did not come to just survive in the dead-end killing fields of the African American ghetto.

    Don’t blame “Whitey” for the failure of the descendants of a failed people. The Irish who came to America were as brutal as they had to be to survive, then they found a path and became “Americans”; different but useful, good neighbors and friends. In the Mid-West are quite a few African American communities that are “communities” with “normal” people. I ran into a different population when I worked/lived “down-town”. I have no idea if the two came from different founding populations or if the difference is the result of segragation after a genetic “regression to the population mean”, but they are a different “tribe”.

    The CRT ignores those “normies” and attributes the unfortunate consequence of the initial “selection” to the fantsy of “racism” of the White population who notice the deficits of the “down-town” population that bear the genetic burden as descendants of those selected because of failure.

  3. Students ARE voting with their feet, young men aren’t going in the numbers they once did.

    The problem is that there is no alternative means of certification.

  4. ‘A 2020 Department of Defense report on industrial capabilities shows that the U.S. lags in STEM education, leading to “a severe shortage of technical talent in the U.S. workplace.” ‘

    The notion of a “shortage of technical talent” has been around since at least the 1980’s. It is a laughable notion. Yeah, there’s a shortage of people who are willing to work at relatively low pay under often grueling conditions, only to be tossed on the garbage heap when it becomes opportune for the employer. I have in mind my friend who had to train his foreign replacement to get his severance package. So cry me a river about the shortage of STEM workers. I credit it about as much as the sob stories from employers about the shortage of factory workers. After they spent the past 20 years destroying their employee pool.

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