06 August 2009

ISU Insanity

So, it turns out that the university's brilliant stupendous stupendously idiotic plan to get its classes taught without full-time lecturers is grad students. Now, a graduate student will only teach one class per semester. That's it. Their class-loads are too great to do anything else. A full-time load for me is four classes (five if I've got 108, as those only count as "half" a class towards my limit).

Let's look at some numbers on that, shall we? A Master's student in math with a teaching assistantship earns about $9400 for the school year. Four such students would earn around $37,600. My salary is just under $30,000. But wait, it gets better: they'll need two offices (two grad students to an office) instead of just one. And if they've got four doctoral students teaching the classes, they shell out about $49,000. This is not a way to save them money.

There is more to the plan, however. They want to bunch up the introductory math classes into big lecture halls. Now, these are the students who need the most help with math. Shoving them into a big lecture hall is, effectively, smothering any chance they have of passing. In the smaller classes we currently have, there's usually a 50% failure rate or higher. I've heard talk of using them as "weed-out" classes, but in that case, why don't they just have, oh, say, admissions standards??!?!?

None of this is the fault of the math department. I overheard our chair in the hall discussing how bad the situation was. Their budget for office supplies is $700 less than they typically spend on copies alone. They're under pressure not to open up new sections, even if there's enough student demand for them. The list goes on. I have no idea what's actually going to happen for the 2010-11 school year. I'm sure the math department will fight a lot of these changes, but unless the bastard Otter restores something resembling a reasonable budget, there won't be much they can do.

There's also an issue in that there are some faculty who just "don't like" the idea of full-time teaching faculty who are (GASP!!)not full professors, and I suspect they're taking the opportunity to try and weed us out. But what are departments without graduate programs supposed to do, hmmm? Just die? Hire professors who have to be paid more? Yeah. These idiots are clearly not capable of cogent thought.

Oh, yes. I should probably add that these views are entirely my own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the rest of the math department ... though I would be surprised if they weren't at least similar to the rest of the department (and that's my opinion, too).

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