Paying for Quality Education

Early this year, President Obama announced “version 1.0” of his college-rating system at least in part to help clarify what constituted a good investment for students.

The nation’s college presidents and administrators expressed concern that the ratings would elevate financial concerns above academic ones and said that the criteria — especially the earnings of graduates — were out of step with the true purpose of a university.

But for students and their families, academic concerns are inextricably linked to financial ones. Those two factors converge in the classroom, in a shift taking place in contemporary academic life – the proliferation of adjunct professors. Is taking courses with adjuncts worth going into potentially thousands of dollars of debt? How do adjuncts fit into the proposed rating system for colleges?

In an essay at Guernica, Rachel Riederer points to adjuncts to argue that students aren’t getting as much return as they think they are. As Riederer writes, “Teachers’ working conditions are students’ learning conditions.” For adjuncts, compensation is low: A 2010 survey by the Coalition on the Academic Workforce showed that an average year’s salary for teaching four courses per semester amounts to $21,600 annually, with little if any compensation for work outside the classroom. <Read more.>

Via Anna Altman, The New York Times.