Am I Dreaming?

First, President Obama announces to the world that he’s in favor of merit pay for teachers. If you listened hard enough, you could almost hear the audible gasps from Randi Weingarten, President of the American Federation of Teachers, and Dennis van Roekel, President of the National Education Association. To be fair, Ms. Weingarten has been quoted as saying she supports the idea of merit pay. She just can’t for the life of her figure out how teachers can be fairly evaluated so as to make any merit pay system work. Call me a troublemaker, but you’d think all those highly paid brainiacs at AFT and NEA who have about 1,000,000 years of collective higher education among them could figure a way to make a merit pay system work. As Weingarten was quoted as saying, “the devil is in the details.” Isn’t is always?

So first we have the President touting merit pay. My other personal cause célèbre has been “equal percentage” pay increases for full-time and part-time faculty represented in unified locals. Obviously, unless one is incapable of doing basic math, one realizes that a 6 percent raise for a full-time faculty member who earns $80K per year with benefits is just an ever so slightly, wafer-thin, larger raise than 6 percent paid to a part-time faculty member who earns $2,000 per course without benefits. Unified local union leaders who negotiate such “equal percentage” raises for their members are robbing the part-timers to pay the full-timers.

This morning, I read about Lewis Long, faculty association president-elect at Irvine Valley College, a unified local in Mission Viejo/Irvine, California. Long’s union just negotiated a contract for its 1,500 members. Hold on to your briefcases: the contract gives the part-time faculty larger raises, as well as larger cost of living adjustments. Read about the new contract here, in the SOCCD student newspaper, the Lariat.

So what’s next? A part-time faculty member being appointed to Chair the AFT’s national Committee on Higher Education? A national push by the education unions for pro-rata pay and benefits for faculty off the tenure-track?

Stay tuned.  In the meantime, three cheers for Lewis Long. Long may he reign. Well, at least long enough to close the immense pay gap between the full-time and part-time members represented by his union.

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