Labor Secretary Clarifies Remarks on Adjuncts

August 31, 2009

Labor Secretary Hilda Solis last week gave an interview to National Public Radio in which she answered a listener's question about adjunct instructors in a way that some viewed as questioning their commitment to teaching -- but she has now clarified her comments. The comment in question, found toward the bottom of this transcript, is: "[T]he continuance of involvement on the part of part-time faculty members I think is a legitimate issue and should be looked at. Because as it stands, you also find that that faculty member is not as inclined to stay committed to those groups of students that they do teach because they're off to different -- other -- what they call, freeway traveling or teaching.…" The American Federation of Teachers approached the Labor Department about the issue and published this statement of clarification that the AFT received: "Adjunct faculty are being particularly hard-hit by the financial crisis at the state level. They deserve to be represented in collective bargaining, and their collective bargaining agreements should be respected. I certainly was not implying that adjuncts are not committed to their students, or that they are anything other than excellent educators. In fact, my involvement with California community colleges has shown me that they are committed professionals who are dedicated to helping students succeed. What I wanted to get across is that, too often, adjunct faculty do not get the level of compensation or professional supports that full-time faculty receive to advise students academically, follow students through their academic careers, develop the college's curriculum, etc. Too many adjuncts, I noted, wind up needing to move from college to college each week just to put together a small living."

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