An astonishing statistic about higher education in the United States: up to 66% of all faculty teaching course at the university level are now adjunct professors receiving a minimal wage and no benefits. A recent PhD graduate from Washington University in St Louis (up the road from me) lays out the case for the university failing as an institution that improves standards of living and coordinates talent in an advanced industrial society. Instead, it’s a sort of Ponzi that enriches senior administration and entrenched faculty, while impoverishing almost all other participants.
…most of all I struggle with the limited opportunities in academia for Americans like me, people for whom education was once a path out of poverty, and not a way into it.
My father, the first person in his family to go to college, tries to tell me my degree has value. “Our family came here with nothing,” he says of my great-grandparents, who fled Poland a century ago. “Do you know how incredible it is that you did this, how proud they would be?”
And my heart broke a little when he said that, because his illusion is so touching – so revealing of the values of his generation, and so alien to the experience of mine.
Two generations, united by a singular myth, divided by drastically different experiences.