Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cloth Magnified

Arizona Star reporter Rob O'Dell must have obtained a keen sense of smell for the cloth, for he has an article in today's paper that reeks, and I mean REEKS, more strongly of the concept than anything I have seen in the press. I'm not sure I've written anything that quite captures the stench of the scam so succinctly.

Cigar Man can say better than myself the clothified nature of the bloated budget of Pima Community College and its over saturated plethora of senior executive vice presidents paid outrageous sums to wear a suit and clap at the rollout of the latest TREO initiative to stimulate the creative class.

I couldn't make this up. PCC is going to pay Nina Trasoff $5,000 to do a series of radio infomercials.

PCC's cash cow has been cut. The charade is that putting Trasoff on the radio will boost interest in PCC courses, thereby increasing its tuition revenue. The scam is that PCC's enrollments are already maxed because the brutal economy and tuition increases at the University of Arizona are causing large numbers of students to choose PCC for the first two years. The radio stint is a way to hand Trasoff a chunk of change because someone wants to.

Did you catch the pay grade of adjunct faculty at PCC? $2130 for an entire semester.

If you think you can transform a workforce paying course leaders $710/month, you're Bob Walkup.


Blogger Sirocco said...

That's $2130 per class though. Teach 4 classes and you are $8520 a semester.

Still not a lot compared to what a number of extraneous suits get paid.

8/24/2010 7:46 AM  
Anonymous Pamela said...

Interesting article, as usual. I heard Nina's promo on 1330AM yesterday. Her background-- before the City Council-- was media and PR. Maybe someone approached her, but it is just as likely that she came up with the idea and pitched it to them. PCC most likely pays The Jolt for the spot also, right?

Re: adjunct pay for PCC faculty, teaching at Pima is like community service. I taught at the UA (until I was laid off in 2004 in a round of budget cuts) and at Pima after that.

At the UA, the program I ran paid my salary. The UA paid me *nothing* extra to teach the class. (I did it because I wanted to increase my teaching credentials.) At Pima, I was paid a pittance to teach the same class. I had UA students who opted to take the class from me at Pima because it was cheaper and more accessible, and the class sizes were less than half.

Also, to save money, the UA replaced me with grad student who had no teaching experience and whose major was in a different field from the class. Consequently, the UA students got screwed on the deal after I was laid off-- higher-cost, larger class with an inexperienced grad student teacher.

8/24/2010 8:48 AM  
Blogger Cigar Man said...

Your math is correct, Sirocco, but not applicable. Adjunct faculty are not permitted to teach more than six units (2 classes), which means they make at most $4260 per semester or $8520 for the whole school year.

Pamela is right. Teaching at PCC is like community service. Adjuncts cannot live on such pay, which means they are retired people, people whose spouse makes the real money, or people scraping out a living by piecing together other jobs in restaurants.

X4mr's point, and he is spot on, is that PCC faculty ARE NOT the set of course leaders that serve corporate training needs.

Yes, PCC does have some decent teachers, especially among its full time (and at least semi-decent paid) faculty, and some programs and courses are worth the tuition, but only in the context of vocational (machine shop) or personal enhancement (art appreciation) training involving modest skills.

The kind of expertise used in real corporate training, like what Matt did at SAIAT, could never be done with PCC faculty.

What Pamela said also reflects the sad reality of the UA getting butchered by the state. Increased class size, more courses taught by graduate students with no teaching skills, etc., and tuition shifting students to PCC are all happening.

As x4mr suggests, the radio show is a charade. Not one person is going to take one class because Cloth Queen Nina spouts about the value of PCC programs. I agree with him that O'Dell must get cloth, because his article delivers it perfectly. This is yet another example of cloth finding a way to hand cash to one of its own.

8/24/2010 9:02 AM  
Anonymous Observer said...

Maybe Nina could have Joe Snell as a guest speaker to talk about PCC courses creating a creative class that fuels the entrepreneurial spirit to drive 21st century economic development.

He could introduce the new modifications to the enhanced blueprint to promote prosperity in the region.

Larry Hecker could come on the show and talk about how we have now laid the foundation for real progress.

8/24/2010 12:34 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

One of the more interesting aspects of choosing Nina Trasoff to hawk PCC on radio is that she doesn't seem to know much about it. According to the article, she took two language classes at Pima (God knows when) and now she's a spokesperson?

Maybe Nina thinks this is her first step in becoming a public speaker of some sort where there is more money to be made.

I've heard her speak and I suggest she try something else.

8/24/2010 1:29 PM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

Liza raises a good point about Trasoff. What does she know about training or education? Part of the reason Tucson, and Arizona for that matter, is in the shape it's in is because it doesn't give a damn about education.

Arizona's education statistics are among the worst in the nation. Remember a few years ago when the cloth tried to put some white guy with no education experience in charge of TUSD? He said Hispanics didn't value education.

If I remember right, the TUSD board read x4mr's blog and gave the job to an experienced woman. I don't remember her name.

This radio show is what x4mr says it is. Nina thought up an easy way to score $5000 for a few hours work, if empty rhetoric qualifies as work.

You can tell O'Dell has a PHD in cloth. He knows it when he sees it, and good for him for writing it up and publishing. This radio show is a perfect example of people being paid to produce empty air and zero substance.

For her to have Snell on the show would be choice.

8/24/2010 5:59 PM  
Anonymous Another Anon said...

Clearly, Pima College administration is "out of touch," despite the fact that many of us real people have used their service.


8/24/2010 8:30 PM  
Blogger Sirocco said...

Hmmmm ... I didn't realize there was a two-class limit for adjunct faculty.

I guess that is to make a clear distinction between them and full-time faculty for legal reasons maybe? If not, what's the justification? It seems like this would prevent the school from having fewer, but more capable, adjunct teachers.

8/25/2010 9:12 AM  
Blogger Cigar Man said...

Your speculation is in the right direction, i.e. labor laws and keeping a clear distinction.

Consider benefits like health insurance, 401K match, relative job security, etc.. Adjuncts are slave labor with no status, no rights, no benefits, nothing. To have an adjunct teach a full load while denying the benefits enjoyed by full time faculty is politically untenable.

At both the university and community college level, adjunct faculty are in fact an exploited workforce. With graduate students, less so, because the graduate students (usually) are also compensated in the form of their own education and graduate degrees.

The use of part time faculty and low paid instructors continues to climb in higher education. At all but the most elite institutions, tenured faculty has been declining and continues to decline as a share of those teaching.

x4mr - are you teaching algebra this fall?

8/25/2010 11:12 AM  
Blogger x4mr said...

Actually, yes. I teach the 116E, which is a challenging course because the students are weak (too weak to take the regular course). We meet twice as often.

I don't make much, but the math department makes it very convenient (the class meets half an hour after my day job ends). I enjoy it, and yes, you are right about tenured faculty and the use of part time faculty as well as a new distinction of instructors called "lecturers."

"Lecturers" are a way to obtain full time dedicated instructors for low pay. They do get benefits and usually (but not always) can count on keeping their jobs.

8/25/2010 11:58 AM  
Blogger The Navigator said...

I am so heartened that you have returned to some teaching and make a difference for 30 or 40 (I'm guessing) young minds each semester.

I won't say how I know, but I know that you have already gained a reputation as a fantastic teacher, and that your classes fill to capacity early with students requesting the waiting list.

Of course the students seek the best teachers.

Just like that one math class you taught at SAIAT, you are helping the weak or damaged gain strength and succeed. You are worth five times what they pay you.

By the way, I find it of considerable amusement that you didn't last a month, not one month on campus, before you contacted the math department about teaching.

The slaughter of SAIAT was an unconscionable atrocity.

Tucson's loss is Kentucky's gain.

8/25/2010 7:02 PM  
Blogger Liza said...

Tucson will always suck.

8/26/2010 8:13 AM  

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