If you have enough time to worry about how much I work, you’re not working hard enough

I’ve been circling around the nonsense blather that is David Levy’s “Do College Teachers Work Hard Enough?” simply because I’m running out of ways to say that people who write these op-eds are generally full of crap. When you do get an op-ed from somebody who has actually done the job, as with Levy, it’s always an administrator who looks down on his faculty. His little missive annoyed me from the title onward. What a loaded question. Have you stopped being a jerk? Logical fallacy 101.

Apparently, though, I get a pass because of where I work:

Such a schedule may be appropriate in research universities where standards for faculty employment are exceptionally high — and are based on the premise that critically important work, along with research-driven teaching, can best be performed outside the classroom. The faculties of research universities are at the center of America’s progress in intellectual, technological and scientific pursuits, and there should be no quarrel with their financial rewards or schedules. In fact, they often work hours well beyond those of average non-academic professionals.

Yessiree. I’m doing important work when I research. The rest of you rabble, however, aren’t working hard enough.

Like I said, I’m running out of rejoinders, and I’m writing this bleary-eyed before my coffee because I spent all day in San Diego teaching high school kids via a college pipeline program (program that takes promising kids from poor neighborhoods), then finally finished today’s teaching prep at 11:30 last night. So yeah: my work day yesterday started with me getting up 5 a.m. and stopping at 11:30; clearly not working hard enough.

All that? That’s all teaching and outreach for the university.

It’s not clear to me whom Levy is even talking about. He’s not talking about people like me because he caveats that he’s not talking about research universities. His experience is at small liberal arts colleges, people who are in the private labor force in many cases. If private universities can not manage their human capital correctly, what exactly is anybody supposed to do about it? Regulate management for private universities? Beyond that, anybody who has taken one class in labor economics would understand that that higher salaries for professors at research universities would have spillovers for salaries elsewhere, including community college teaching.

And finally, can we get real here? The average pay for full professors at community colleges is all of $88K? Oh My God. What are those people doing with all that money? Probably flinging it away on stuff like food and rent and their children’s education. Let’s just put it this way: I wouldn’t want to live in most places in Maryland on $88K a year. Especially when that’s the AVERAGE pay for the *top rank* of my profession; since I’m a woman, my salary is likely to be 70 percent of that, on the lower end of the distribution.

I think it’s interesting how in the WashPo, when it comes to raising income taxes, people making $250K a year “aren’t rich.” But somehow, when somebody makes all of $88K a year, it’s a veritable deluge of money. Grrr.

One thought on “If you have enough time to worry about how much I work, you’re not working hard enough

  1. As an asst prof at a r1, let me say: srsly! Great post, nicely put.

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