Some of the nation's poorest people work at higher educational institutions, and many of them are members of the faculty. Oh, yes, there are still faculty members who receive comfortable middle class salaries. But most faculty do not.
A strike of unionized faculty at the University of Illinois is currently underway. It is the first major strike at a top-tier research institution since the 1990s, and it has come to be called "the Walmartization" of the university system.
What began as part-time teaching to meet a temporary need or plug a gap in the curriculum has evolved into systemic institutional injustice. The extent of the exploitation of adjuncts is inconsistent with both academic and American values.
I still remember my first interview for a non-academic job about 10 years ago, shortly after receiving my PhD in American and Jewish literature. 'Don't you want to teach? You seem rather overqualified for this position.'
Professional football and academia go hand-in-hand. A university, although often seen as a pillar of educational fortitude, is, like professional football, a business mostly concerned with winning money and the reputation game.
Universities, nowadays, purposefully dole out a meager ration of jobs so that adjuncts will never achieve a full time status and it is to their benefit to manage labor in this inhumane way in order to puff up the paychecks of football coaches and administrators.
Paying part-time faculty more is not only fair but leverage to raise expectations -- to make sure that they are providing a rigorous and relevant education, with high standards and expectations for their students.
Adjuncts are now almost 75 percent of all teachers in higher education, over half of whom are part-time. They remain the "untouchables" of our education caste system. College presidents and administrators seem to be looking the other way.