Imagine my shock to hear this:
The federal health-care overhaul is prompting some colleges and universities to cut the hours of adjunct professors, renewing a debate about the pay and benefits of these freelance instructors who handle a significant share of teaching at U.S. higher-education institutions.
The Affordable Care Act requires large employers to offer a minimum level of health insurance to employees who work 30 hours a week or more starting in 2014, or face a penalty. The mandate is a particular challenge for colleges and universities, which increasingly rely on adjuncts to help keep costs down as states have scaled back funding for higher education.
A handful of schools, including Community College of Allegheny County in Pennsylvania and Youngstown State University in Ohio, have curbed the number of classes that adjuncts can teach in the current spring semester to limit the schools’ exposure to the health-insurance requirement.
…at that, I’m not as shocked as Stark State College adjunct Robert Balla, who is quoted later in the article as being unhappy that his hours have been cut. Admittedly, me being less shocked wasn’t a difficult feat to accomplish, given that I’m not shocked at all and Balla is.
Anyway, like Walter Russell Mead, I think that this entire situation is downright redolent with the generally bad smell that is attached to our current university system*; unlike Walter, I’m not really basically sympathetic to the people caught up in it, except for the ones who voted for Mitt Romney**. The rest of ’em ordered this dog’s breakfast; it’s not my fault if they don’t like the taste. And it’s not as if being sympathetic will win me any points with these people, given that I’m representative of that horrible fringe of American politics whose last candidate got a mere 48% of the vote…
*Short version: under the current system, adjuncts do all of the work and tenured professors get all of the budget, respect, grant money and nice parking spaces. It is instructive that when it comes to discussing how to cut costs, apparently nobody in the university system is seriously suggesting that full-time, tenured professors teach more entry-level classes.
**Neither I nor the Volokh Conspiracy are particularly ready to believe that Mr. Balla voted for Mr. Romney.