Move over higher education, your brilliant plan to save money via adjunct/contingent faculty has now been usurped by secondary schools, at least in the state of Alabama. The State School Board announced this week that, because of shortages in career tech fields, they would allow adjuncts to be hired without limit in secondary schools. Sounds familiar? Adjuncts can work up to half time, but do not qualify for salaries or benefits. There is, as yet, no specified hourly rate for these employees. They would need an industry certification to teach career tech courses, but only a high school diploma to teach other subjects, excluding special education courses. The school board insists that the adjuncts each be assigned a mentor within the school where they are working, but no other educational background or coursework is required. Unlike emergency certifications, which are issued by state and require teachers to earn a valid certification within two years of starting teaching, adjunct positions have no such stipulations.
Such a shift only solidifies what we already know from our experiences in higher education: the integrity of the teaching profession is consistently being eroded, the education of our youth is being underfunded and undermined, and those of us who are fighting to legitimize the profession of education and bolster the rights of adjuncts are fighting an uphill battle. Well folks, the hill just got a little steeper. Sisyphean task, indeed.
To follow the horror, check out some of these local news articles: