Last week, I tweeted a link to a Slate article entitled, "Thesis Hatement: Getting a literature Ph.D. will turn you into an emotional trainwreck, not a professor." A friend responded, "is it really as bad as that?"
Let's just talk about salary disparities for the moment. An article in today's Times has some nice numbers.
For the academic elite — tenured professors at private research universities — average pay this year is $167,118, while at public research universities such professors earn $123,393, according to the annual report by the American Association of University Professors.
But public college professors aren't making that.
Average pay for assistant professors at private colleges that award only bachelor’s degrees is $62,763, while public colleges paid $58,591.
And what about the non-tenured faculty?
… this year’s report includes data from a Coalition on the Academic Workforce survey of more than 10,000 part-time faculty members, finding that their median pay per course in 2010 was $2,700.
$2,700 per class. If you teach seven classes per year, that's $18,900.
The article ended with an interview with Terry Hartle, the senior vice president of the American Council on Education. The move towards shifting the teaching load to the migrant laborers of academia didn't really bother him. That's was just part of the trend. He was most concerned about the disparity between tenured faculty at public colleges and private and research colleges. Because these organizations and unions only care about tenured faculty.
There's been lots of talk about MOOCs and online college education in the past year. I contributed to the discussion pretty early on, and as a result, I get press releases from ed-tech companies nearly every day now. Awesome.
But that's not the real big story in academia right now. The story is that a whole lot of house elves are doing the teaching work, and some day, they are going to get really pissed off.