A few weeks ago, the first National Adjuncts Walkout Day was staged, to draw attention to the crisis in US higher education: that today 75% of all teaching is being done by underpaid faculty who are not on the tenure-track, and have no guarantee of academic freedom or job security. This situation has evolved over the last 30 years, when 75% of all teaching was done by tenured and tenure-track faculty, primarily because state legislatures have chosen to cut support to higher education. Higher education used to be supported or sponsored by the states; now it is simply located in the states.
The Campaign for the Future of Higher Education, the New Faculty Majority, and the American Association of University Professors are fighting to raise awareness in the general public of this dangerous trend, which is undermining the integrity of our system of higher education. Students graduating from college today have little sense of the fact that when they have kids in twenty years or so who want to go to college, not only will the cost be out of reach, there will be such a two tiered system that only a very small elite will have access to a genuine education. The Ivy league schools and the small private liberal arts colleges with enormous endowments will continue to operate, but for the majority of people, on-line learning (no genuine interaction with professors) will be the norm. Unless citizens get involved in demanding that states return to the commitment to higher ed as a public good, funded by the public, things are looking dismal for the future of higher ed in the US.