Dear Editor: I teach an ESL (English as a second language) course offered by Madison Area Technical College twice a week at the Lussier Community Education Center. Students in ESL levels one through five may enroll at any time, with more than 25 students enrolled this semester.
Normally, between 15 and 20 attend, ranging from those who cannot read any language to those who test at level four. Students are not required to purchase a text. Instead, the instructor develops curriculum materials for each student performance level from a range of resources.
For example, for last Tuesday’s class, I assembled a grocery bag of food items for teaching food vocabulary to the pre-literate/level one group, wrote three pages of dialogs for the level twos, and prepared two reading/writing projects for the level threes/fours. Luckily, I kept the class on schedule (no new students showed up to register) and we got everything done.
Does this sound like a challenging course to teach? It is. And yet Madison College entrusts this class to me, a member of the part-time faculty, someone who earns far less than half the pay of a full-time faculty member for a course of equal length.
Unlike many others, I do not have to support myself on a part-time instructor’s pay. Still, I feel exploited and undervalued as I follow the contentious negotiations between Madison College and the Part-Time Teachers Union. College President Barhorst has said I’m “not serious” about my work. And the college board wants to make an already-huge salary discrepancy between full-time and part-time faculty even bigger.
Perhaps college board members are simply out of touch with what part-time teachers deal with, gladly and professionally, every day. Maybe that’s why they persist in a business strategy that demoralizes and causes financial hardship to so many.
Sue made clear what all part-timers feel - that the administration has little respect for the work that we do. More letters like this sharing personal stories will be the key to ensuring that the public understands what part-time instructors do for our community.