Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Tech College Teachers make more than we do

The Journal-Sentinel reports on a LAB report that shows that full-time faculty at Tech Colleges here in Wisconsin make more on average than those at the 4 year campuses. For us, the average salary at Fox is 73,100, while the average here is 65,100.

The administrators complain that it is comparing apples to oranges to compare the two. One might note that the biggest difference is that the teachers there have a union!

5 comments:

lammers said...

I don't think it's fruitful to get into them-vs.-us salary comparisons. Bear in mind that these are averages and that a lot of information is lost when averaging numbers.

You also run the risk of alienating people of more modest income with complaints that we "only" earn $65,000 on average. With the cost of living in Wisconsin, that's a pretty nice salary. I'm definitely looking forward to working my way up to "average" someday! :-)

One thing that IS troubling about the report is the fact that our tech school employees are among the highest paid in the nation. Factor in the low cost of living here, and it does seem that they are overpaid. Some person in a high-rent district like New York doing the same job has to limp along on far less income?? What's up with that? If market forces dictate these things, why are we so far out in the lead?

Couple that to the fact that university professors here are among the *lowest* paid among their peers and THEN you have something that bears study.

k. smith said...

We could, perhaps, speak to the fact that the tech schools claim that they can do our mission (teaching a liberal arts curriculum) as well, and more efficiently, than we do. I am not going to argue whether or not the tech school faculty are overpaid, but when I see reports of faculty taking on 17 extra classes (granted, an extreme example) to make extra money, I wonder if these claims might ring a bit less than true? Is that efficient? Possibly. My question is, are the students being shortchanged?

lammers said...

K. Smith raises good points. I doubt if a person taking on "17 extra classes" (surely that should have read "contact hours," right??)has the time to lead student research on beachfront bacterial contamination, write world-renowned award-winning plays, or study the secrets of the universe at a major astronomical observatory. The fact our faculty does such things contributes a *lot* to the education our students receive, and to the quality of life in the region.

When I worked as a "curator" (research scientist) at Field Museum, I was often asked by the public why they even had a Research unit. Nobody at "the other" museum did research. I explained that that museum and many others were like a high school science fair: bright people go to the encyclopedia and look stuff up and then come up with clever engaging ways to convey it to the public. At Field Museum, in contrast, I told them, "we WRITE the encyclopedias!" It's the same with us: we don't just tell you about cool stuff someone else figured out, WE doing the figuring out!

Anonymous said...

I've studied at two tech schools in addition to my time here at UWO. For the most part I found the tech instructors to be much more concerned with actually teaching me something. They seemed to care more that we grasped what was being taught. And they didn't spend half of a class period trying to fill me with their own political thoughts and ideas. I wish that a tech degree was worth as much as a 4 year degree. I would gladly return to a tech in a second to get away from the liberal bias we get shoved down our throats on this campus.

lammers said...

Anonymous said:

>>I've studied at two tech schools in addition to my time here at UWO. For the most part I found the tech instructors to be much more concerned with actually teaching me something.<<

So you're here ... why? It sounds as though your needs were better met at the tech schools. That *is* why we have two systems: because some folks life goals are better met by a practical education than a liberal (in the traditional sense) one.

>>I wish that a tech degree was worth as much as a 4 year degree. <<

Okay, maybe that answers my question. But here's a thought: no *degree* is worth anything. It's the person who holds the degree who is worth something, to society, to employers, to himself. Weren't you paying attention at the end of "Wizard of Oz"? Scarecrow felt he was worth more after the wizard gave him some meaningless diploma, but he was the same person he was before its conferal. The film was parodying the attitude that a sheepskin makes you smarter. He had grown and learned through his adventures; no piece of paper changed that.

If you put in four years here and get a nice embossed piece of paper, it won't do you a damn bit of good if you haven't actually learned anything. If you haven't learned to analyze information, learned to solve problems, learned to communicate effectively, and learned to understand and work well with others, you won't be worth a plugged nickel to any employer. Someone who attends tech school and learns a skilled trade will probably do much better in terms of earnings and job satisfaction than someone who does get a bachelor's degree, but who doesn't embrace the essence of a liberal arts education.

Far too many students think a degree is a magic ticket, like the "letters of transit" in the movie "Casablanca" -- "can't be revoked, can't be rescinded, can't even be questioned." They think that no matter how you get it, as long as you have it, you're in like Flynn. Well, sorry, it doesn't work that way. All an employer cares about is what you can DO.

>>And they didn't spend half of a class period trying to fill me with their own political thoughts and ideas. I would gladly return to a tech in a second to get away from the liberal bias we get shoved down our throats on this campus.<<

You must forgive me if I say that this frequently heard complaint is just about the most foolish thing I hear said about universities. It evinces such a deep misunderstanding of what academia and education are all about, that one hardly knows where to begin in countering it.

Look at it this way: The whole idea of education is to consider things you've never considered before, to look at new stuff. What would be the point of education if all it did was to reinforce ideas you came in the door with? Given that the average person leans to the right, it is just logical that university faculties would have to lean to the left in order to CHALLENGE students' thinking.

Our job is NOT to make you happy. Our job is to make you THINK. How much of your personal political philosophy is based on thought and analysis, and how much of it is upbringing and habit? In order to be able to truly embrace your own personal views so that you may explain and defend them, you must have THOUGHT about them. What better way to make you analyze your beliefs than to CHALLENGE them? I'll wager that most of your profs don't really care what viewpoint you embrace, as long as you arrive at it intelligently and consciously, and not in a kneejerk Pavlovian fashion. Espousing *their* views is a way to make you
think about *yours.*

Another thought: In a sport, you don't become strong and skillful by sitting on your keester; you have to WORK to achieve those goals. It's seldom pleasant, involving pain and sweat. Same with an education. If you aren't uncomfortable half the time, your "coaches" are working you hard enough. When you get angry when some prof yammers on about evil Republicans or whatever, just think of it as mental calisthenics. Instead of thinking, "He's a jerk; I hate him," you should be thinking, "He's wrong and here's why. Reason 1, ..."