Go to that link and add your name to the list if you haven't already. It's just one more way to attempt to be heard, to raise awareness. Because ... numbers count in this game.
And then, once you've signed the petition, go check out today's post at Transition Times, where blogger Jennifer Browdy de Hernandez neatly ties the plight of adjuncts to the trend towards distance learning. Contrary to critics of distance learning, Browdy de Hernandez first praises it and emphasizes its inevitabilty and significant potential, describing how a "virtual" classroom could bring together people who would be unlikely to meet in a traditional one:
But Browdy de Hernandez goes on to discuss the "catch" to such a scenario. When distance learning is viewed as a cost-cutting measure rather than a means to enhance learning, both students and faculty lose out. "Outsourcing" instruction at U.S. colleges and universities to underpaid faculty, sometimes in other countries, and tasking them with responsibility for increasingly higher student loads and no one-on-one or small group face time, real or virtual, depersonalizes education, exploiting both students and faculty in order to support inflated costs at the top of academe's pyramid at the expense of its foundation.[W]ouldn’t it be exciting to “hang out” in a seminar classroom with students from around the world? We higher ed folks like to trumpet the value of diversity and international education—well, distance learning provides the platform to make the dream of a truly diverse and globalized classroom a reality.
And because smaller classes, whether virtual or real, are both a better educational model and more expensive, fewer and fewer students will have access to that kind of learning environment. The adjunctification of the professoriate, along with the outsourcing of instruction, will create a caste system, further separating poorer students from more affluent ones:
Now, go sign that petition because I know you read the rest of the post and already forgot the beginning of it![W]e will be looking at an academic landscape where there will be a few highly paid tenured research professors and a vast majority of poorly paid adjunct professors all over the world, working mostly from their home offices via distance learning networks. While there will always be a few lucky students who will be able to again access to ivied classrooms through scholarships, those classrooms will increasingly be reserved for the children of the super-elites of the world. Ordinary kids who have the motivation and discipline to go to college will do it from home, a financial decision their parents will have no choice but to support.
Distance learning is often lauded as a way to level the playing field, since it makes higher education accessible to kids who would not otherwise be able to go to college.
This may be so. But it is also going to be yet another way to divide our society into Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas and Epsilons—in other words, to harden the de facto caste walls that are already making the old rags-to-riches, pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps American dream a quaint memory.