Archive for Education

UUP has an Agenda: Quality


Commentary by UUP President Frederick E. Kowal

The National Council on Teacher Quality criticized United University Professions (“Our budding teachers deserve better training in New York,” March 30) for our position regarding the State Education Department’s deeply flawed teacher certification process.

Hey, NCTQ, what took you so long?

After all, UUP has loudly voiced its concerns about New York’s teacher certification exams for the past two years. And for good reason: these tests are riddled with problems pertaining to content, their computer­based format — administered and scored by corporate education testing giant Pearson — the basis for cut scores, and the lack of timely access to test preparation materials.

SED changed certification requirements for 2014 and 2015 student teachers well after they started their teacher preparation programs. And the department was two years late in making test preparation materials available for the Educating All Students exam and Academic Literacy Skills Test.

SED’s latest imbroglio was its decision to require students to take the newly revised Content Specialty Tests before establishing passing scores for the exams. As of early April, graduates are languishing as SED figures things out. MORE

UUP Honors Contingent Faculty Teaching 55% of New Paltz Courses

Contingents 3During National Adjunct Action Week, February 23-27, UUP is honoring the over 300 contingent faculty members who teach 55% of the 1,256 courses taught this semester at SUNY New Paltz. The union’s New Paltz Chapter has installed a display in the Jazzman’s Café, located in the foyer of Jacobson’s Faculty Tower, listing all of the approximately 700 courses taught by 57 full-time lecturers and 248 part-time, so-called “adjunct” lecturers and instructors.

“The dictionary definition of the term adjunct—something added to another thing but not essential to it—is such a misnomer in this case,” commented Chapter President Peter D. G. Brown, Distinguished Service Professor of German Emeritus. “Our adjuncts here, as everywhere else, teach all levels of all subjects, from Anthropology to Zoology. The entire academic enterprise is carried on the backs of these poorly supported and largely invisible academics. Students are adversely affected when their teachers lack basic support in the form of a living wage or offices to meet and mentor their students. Education suffers in the absence of any meaningful academic freedom due to our contingent faculty’s precarious employment.”

Part of the UUP display includes a collage of over 100 photos depicting the diverse faces of the contingent faculty at SUNY New Paltz.

Both UUP, representing some 35,000 members on 28 different campuses, and the SUNY Student Assembly, representing 465,000 students at 64 campuses, have called for increasing the minimum starting salary per three-credit course from the current $3,100 to $5,000.

NAAW 2, 2-22-15

NAAW 1, 2-22-15


AFT Demands an End to Exploitation of Contingent Faculty

aftThe American Federation of Teachers (AFT), UUP’s national affiliate with 1.6 million members, issued a strong call for “ending the exploitation of contingent faculty.” At SUNY New Paltz, fully half of the teaching faculty are contingents, with over 200 part-time adjuncts and some 70 full-time lecturers.

In a series of resolutions passed at AFT’s convention, meeting July 11-14 in Los Angeles, AFT demanded pay equity for contingents, including compensation for class preparation time and office hours. Further demands include:

• Equitable access to employee benefits;

• Access to and compensation for opportunities for professional development;

• Meaningful job security, including job security comparable to tenure, long-term academic appointment contracts or certificates of continuing employment, which guarantee the presumption of rehiring;

• Opportunities for career advancement, including conversion opportunities to full-time, tenure-track positions;

• Enforceable standards for the timely notification of teaching appointments;

• Protections for academic freedom, regardless of tenure status; and

• Full inclusion in and compensation for participation in all institutional work, including service, research and governance.


Congratulations, class of 2014: You’re totally screwed


College costs more and more, even as it gets objectively worse. Only people worse off than indebted grads: adjuncts


Welcome to the wide world, Class of 2014. You have by now noticed the tremendous consignment of debt that the authorities at your college have spent the last four years loading on your shoulders. It may interest you to know that the average student-loan borrower among you is now $33,000 in debt, the largest of any graduating class ever. According to a new study by the Pew Research Center, carrying that kind of debt will have certain predictable effects. It will impede your ability to accumulate wealth, for example. You will also borrow more for other things than people without debt, and naturally you will find your debt level growing, not shrinking, as the years pass.

As you probably know, neither your parents nor your grandparents were required to take on this kind of burden in order to go to college. Neither are the people of your own generation in France and Germany and Argentina and Mexico.