We are adjuncts. We teach because we believe in the power of education to improve people’s lives. Across our state there are thousands of us working everyday to advance the next generation of working class students and their families. Although many do not see the threat, we have watched it grow for quite some time. With the continued erosion of full-time faculty, we have become a short-sighted stop-gap in what most would assume is a well functioning system. The truth is that we are struggling—both as an institution vital to our community and as individuals just trying to survive.
Our public colleges are in crisis and there is little sign that anyone will be held to account. These colleges and universities are seeing enrollment decline as the cost of tuition rises—keeping many from ever entering a college classroom. Those fortunate enough to pay the price of admission are less likely to graduate than ever before as we educators are asked do so much more with so much less. We do not accept this status quo and have organized ourselves to fight for the rights of our students and our rights as workers.
Like any public service, our colleges should be accountable to our community. That’s because we are the ones’ paying for it—all of us. When less than half of our students walk away with a degree, who do we hold responsible? Who are we supposed to call when our public colleges are inaccessible to those who so desperately need them for a chance at a better future? As educators, how do we bargain for enough pay to live on when there is no commitment to adequately funding our higher education system? How can our working conditions not affect our students learning conditions?
The fact is we do not work for any administration. Nor do we work for legislators in Tallahassee who continue to cut funding for our essential institutions. We work for the people. It’s time we treat higher education with the same accountability as any other service paid for by the public. We are adjuncts and we are standing up for education.