Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fearless Leader Mike Kent's Op-ed

Part-time Teachers' Union President Mike Kent's op-ed piece appeared in The Capital Times today. Holding his own question and answer session, he laid out the repurcussions of MATC continuing with the status quo in regard to p/t compensation.

"If part-time faculty are really being exploited, they should quit," you might say. They do. Over 30 percent of the 1,200 part-time faculty leave the school every year. More than 60 percent of the part-time faculty have less than three years of seniority with the school. Good, extremely well-qualified teachers leave the school every semester.

"Well, even if they are quitting, they are easily replaceable in this area." Not really. The dystopian ethic of treating skilled, conscientious professionals as human commodities notwithstanding, it takes more than an advanced degree to teach academic classes in the technical colleges. Instructors must obtain Wisconsin Technical College System certification, which requires the completion of more than 300 uncompensated hours of coursework, and the fulfillment of certain industry
experience and expertise requirements.

The big picture here is that taking car of teachers is best for students and best for our region.

The status quo must change. A 40 percent graduation rate is not healthy for the region. A 30 percent annual turnover rate for part-time faculty is toxic to the quality of education. MATC's administration needs to spend less time and energy on changing the name of the college or planning building acquisitions and more time dealing with the real crisis affecting the institution right now. You can't build on a rotting foundation, and the deliberate disregard of these issues is like fiddling while Rome burns.
Well said, Mike.

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