Rate My JIL 2018: to be fair my head only just 67 percent exploded. 

Oh, hey. Didn’t see you there! Well, imagine this. I’m just minding my own business, watching my daughter chase butterflies around the backyard and enjoying some much-needed time off from anything resembling a serious writing schedule.

And then this comes across my desk, an early listing for what I suppose could still technically be called a “job opening” in the field of German Studies. Hold on to your butts, because I’ve not seen anything like this before. All emphases are my own.

University of Illinois-Chicago. 
Visiting Lecturer-German Basic Language Program Director for AY 2017-2018.

The Director will coordinate 14 sections in the blended basic German language sequence (first through fourth semester), supervise and train about 10 teaching assistants, teach three advanced language and culture courses, and participate in departmental events, such as the High School Day.

Qualifications: Candidates must be ABD (PhD preferred), have a strong teaching record, and have a background in Second Language Acquisition or a related field. Native or near-native competency in German is required. Preference will be given to candidates with experience in language program direction, materials development, and computer-mediated learning.

Currently this is a 67% position for $28.000 and benefits are prorated.

Starting date for the TA orientation is August 21, 2017. Classes start August 28, 2017.

I’m currently visiting my parents in Oregon (hence the aforementioned backyard). Some undetermined time in the past, my mom went grocery shopping and forgot a gallon of milk in the trunk of her Acura sedan. Eventually, the car started smelling bad enough that she did some investigation, but by then it was too late, and the offending dairy product had, in its metamorphosis into a solid, rotten mass, spooged out of its original container and contaminated the entire trunk. It’s been sunny and warm every day in Oregon for the past three weeks, and interior temperatures of the Acura routinely top 110 degrees.

Yesterday my husband attempted to open the trunk of said car so that we could put the stroller in, and the stench physically knocked him over. It is impossible to sit in this vehicle without gagging. The Schumans could currently park that automobile in downtown Eugene, smack in the nexus of Unhoused Personage Central, with its doors wide open and the keys in the ignition, and even a guy who hasn’t seen the inside of a building for three weeks would be like DUDE, THIS IS VILE, NO THANKS. I understand that I am a routine hyperbolist, but please believe me that in this situation I am simply describing facts.

Please also believe me that the only thing auf der grünen Erde Gottes that churns my stomach more than a whiff of my parents’ Acura is this fucking ad for an alleged job.

Let us review. These folks want an experienced language program director to come on immediately and rescue them, as someone obviously just quit (can’t imagine why) or was fired (perhaps for wanting to eat and pay rent in the same month). This experienced language program director will teach a 2-1 load of advanced classes, supervise ten graduate dipshits who don’t know what they’re doing (aka me circa 2007) and put out all their fires and deal with all their student’s crises and complaints, develop FOURTEEN COURSES, and “participate in department events,” all for the princely sum of TWENTY EIGHT THOUSAND human Earth dollars per annum in the twelfth most expensive city in the United States. (“Don’t get me started on “prorated benefits.” WHAT THE FUCK DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?)

Oh, but it’s all right, because it’s a “67%” position, so. What, pray tell, would the full-time version of this shit-show require? Here’s my woman-hour breakdown of this job, and this is with Schuman-level projected “effort,” which itself translates to about 67 percent (if that) of what your average desperate recent PhD would do.

  • Developing fourteen sections of four different courses (first through fourth semesters) using a new book and a new curriculum (the chances that you’d be coming on to a program that used the exact book/curriculum that you’ve taught with before are low, even in the small field of German): 15 hours/week. (Again, that’s if you are an ENORMOUS slacker such as myself.)
  • Developing, prepping, grading and assuming 24-hour email concierge and grade-grievance duties for one’s own “advanced” language and culture courses which are not the same as the “basic sequence,” and we’ll imagine this is the two-course semester and not the one-course semester: 15 hours/week. (Once again: you have to be a SUPER confident/experienced/slackery pedagogue to even get it this low.)
  • Putting out fires for your ten bullshit grad students that you supervise and their 200 bullshit students: 5 hours/week AT MINIMUM, probably closer to 10.
  • Contact hours in the classroom: 6hr/week
  • Office hours (2 per course per week, as required by most universities): 4hr/week
  • Miscellaneous “department events,” email listservs, faculty meeting nightmare bullshit, and general day-to-day bullshit: 30 min/day=2.5 hrs/week (again, that is only if, like me, you answer all colleague emails with three words and beg off most events and meetings).

We are currently up to 50+ hours a week of on-the-clock work, and that is only if one is doing a very bad job (which, it should go without saying, a position like this calls for).

(Of course, even the “full-time” nonexistent version of this job would only pay about $42K, but that’s another rage-stroke altogether.)

$28K. For what is by any reasonable account a full-time job and then some. In Chicago. You’d be better off adjuncting about four courses a semester, and that is the full-ass truth.

There no excuse on Earth for listing a job like this that “prefers” an earned doctorate in good faith. The only thing I can think of that even made this job possible is that the administration of UIC wants to destroy the German program completely, but they can’t do that blatantly, so this is how they’re doing it. Here’s the conversation I imagine took place between the chair of the UIC foreign languages department (or whatever they have; I am way too busy dealing with car smells to look that shit up) and whatever administrator is particularly eager to destroy German at UIC.

CHAIR: We need a new language program director immediately.
ADMIN: No you don’t.
CHAIR: No, really we do. We have 300 students in our beginning program and it needs someone to run it.
ADMIN: No you don’t.
CHAIR: I assure you we do. I am begging you.
ADMIN: You get no new positions.
CHAIR: *weeps*
ADMIN: Please stop that. You’re making me deeply uncomfortable.
CHAIR: *absentmindedly fastens noose out of belt*
ADMIN: I’ll tell you what. I’ll give you a 2/3 appointment that pays less per year than what my daughter’s third birthday party cost–and I guarantee you some desperate recent PhD sucker will be happy to apply for it.
CHAIR: *whimpers*
ADMIN: Good meeting! *leaves*
CHAIR: *writes ad, hates self*

Any other scenario—like one where the people in the department themselves put together this job on purpose and thought it would be a good idea to advertise—is simply too heinous to contemplate, so I’m not going to.

Now, what to do? Simple. Nobody apply for this job. Do not apply for this job. Do not. Do not do it. Do not give this job the dignity of existing. Do not give people who think it’s acceptable to advertise a job like this, that pays so little and asks so much, even the slightest hint of legitimacy. Kill this job before it can multiply.

Jesus H. Fuck, this year is gonna be grim.

PS: if you liked this, might I recommend a book you also could possibly like? Tell your friends ;). 

78 thoughts on “Rate My JIL 2018: to be fair my head only just 67 percent exploded. 

      • It’s not about making excuses. It’s about identifying the problem, which doesn’t even have anything to do even with the hypothetical admin. that the chair is talking to. That’s a Dean. S/he’s handed a budget too. So is the Dean’s VP. Fixed pot of funds, zero sum thinking with spending. The problem is political and budgetary at the state level. If you really want to improve pay and working conditions for adjuncts, and improve overall the state of higher ed., that needs to become a political priority.

        There are changes/improvements that can be made immediately by a board committed to prioritizing the actual education of students (in terms of budget allocations within the university), but in a state U system those are political appointees. The problem is political top to bottom.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I’ve heard this a lot, but in this particular situation, I am inclined to think it’s buck-passing. If all this dept could get was $28K, they should have posted an ad for an adjunct. You just cannot have a (very overloaded) full-time job, call it “part-time,” pay it poverty wage (sub-poverty in Chicago!) and then not expect a shit-show. I don’t deny the IL crisis or the systemic devaluing of education (a completely and utterly lost cause in the current political climate, I’m afraid), but I think it’s actually beside the point of the folks who wrote this ad and decided to post it. All i can hope is that nobody applies for it.

        Liked by 2 people

      • It’s really hard for me to disagree with you without knowing the specific institutional context. Some President may have told some VP to tell some Dean to tell a Chair to write this job ad. But, I have been at some institutions where faculty suggesting paying someone $25K a year for someone to be an instructor teaching a 4/4 load. It was a jerk Business instructor acting with contempt for writing instructors — this is all you’re worth. That means the person dumb enough to take that job (the local HS paid about $13K a year more) was viewed with contempt by the persons who created the position just for taking the position.

        It is absolutely true that the only solution is for no one to take this position, and on top of that, to quit adjunction completely, or just take one section. When students can’t get classes without a full time hire at decent pay, THEN admin. will have to find the money somewhere.

        SCAD has about 12K students and the Pres. makes $9.8 million a year. How many adjuncts could be converted to full time positions if the President just made $5 mill a year? Let’s say the cost of a $45K a year position is about $60K including benefits. That’s 80 full time jobs at a cost of $60K a year if the President took a pay cut from a disgustingly obscene salary to a really obscene salary.

        The only other political solution I see is to say that fed. financial aid is not available for institutions who don’t have at least 90% of their courses taught by full time instructors. That would fix things right away.

        Liked by 3 people

    • It’s funny that you’re even comparing an insanely exploitative $28k/year university job to what are generally pretty stable, well-paying, union represented high school positions. I mean, a quick scan of the JIL can tell us that we’d “literally” be better off teaching high school than taking a solid half of university jobs these days. I think it’s time to move past the idea that high school is beneath us.

      I loved reading this post, though. If we can’t laugh about it, we’d be crying all the time.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yeah I wrote about that a long time ago, at the dawn of NextGenPanKisses in 2013. Teaching high school is something many of us would be LUCKY to do, and many more of us are not qualified to do.

        Liked by 2 people

      • It’s funny to me that you take issue with my comment and then wind up agreeing with it.

        The point to me is that you don’t need to spend tens of thousands of dollars and 5-7 years or more earning a Ph.D. to teach HS at most public schools. Who’s better off: someone with an MA and $10K of debt teaching HS, or someone with a Ph.D. and $50K of debt teaching HS? It’s not about anything being “beneath us.” It’s that we’re not trained for that (HS teaching is a very different thing), and we don’t need the education we do in fact have to do that job, and especially not the debt.

        I agree that HS teaching is generally a good gig in terms of providing a stable income and excellent benefits. It’s also true that most public school teachers don’t last 5 years. There are some high end private schools that hire Ph.D.s, and IB programs need them, I think, but otherwise if you really want to teach K-12 it’s idiotic to earn a Ph.D. to do that.

        Liked by 2 people

      • After a year visiting and another as a full-time adjunct – I got certified to teach high school. I’m starting my first position in September. I start at more than most tenure-track positions, I get benefits, paid summers off, and I can sleep at night. Student teaching was actually fun and evaluations/observations are not torture. Totally worth it.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Monica — My wife has been teaching HS off an on for the last ten years or so, and she’s ready to give it up. There’s a reason most public school teachers don’t last more than five years. If you find yourself at a good school in a good area with minimal behavior problems, supportive admin, and decent pay you’ve struck gold. Never leave.

        My wife’s first teaching job was at a very highly ranked public HS in FL. She had a student fail, having credit for only 10% of her work and attendance. When the student and her mother protested the grade, the administrator raised it to a D with a 60% average, saying that “we start students at 50%.” The students there felt confident they could get a teacher fired. This is not to mention the shenanigans carried on at the district level, such as bussing students from strong schools to failing schools to give the failing schools a quick boost in test scores.

        It’s very dumb to idealize HS teaching as well. That system is at least as dysfunction as higher ed, if not more so in some ways. But, those jobs at least have cheap health insurance and stable, if not usually very high, pay.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Teaching high school would be tough for a whole host of reasons. The biggest for me would be the bureaucracy and lack of professional independence (a lack of independence when it comes to both the school district administration and the teachers’ union). Few other professions (physicians, attorneys, architects, engineers, etc.) works under a restrictive bureaucracy.

        Liked by 2 people

    • I’d have to say not in public school in IL. You’re hosed here regardless of what level you teach in public education. You’d have to go back and read 4 years of political reporting at the state level to really grasp how bad the education outlook is here.

      Liked by 2 people

  1. The comparison to rancid milk is 100% spot-on. Here’s a few more points:

    “blended basic German language sequence”: They’ve cooked up a Rube Goldberg-esque approach to teaching that solved some personnel and curriculum problems back in 2005. Now it’s got some issues, and they need someone to come rescue them. But without changing anything.

    “computer-mediated learning”: Someone heard at MLA ’14 that they could raise enrollments by creating “online” classes, whatever that is. While you’re coordinating 14 sections of 4 different classes, could you add some “online” classes, too?

    “participate in departmental events, such as the High School Day”: Can you guess whose job it is to plan, promote, and run High School Day? Why else do you think it’s mentioned in the ad? Don’t worry, though. You have 10 grad students to help you take care of everything.

    They call this 67%? $28,000? That’s shameful.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I made more money 30 years ago as an accountant with an undergraduate degree and two years of experience. Is this job posting emblematic for this type of position or an outlier?

    Liked by 1 person

    • This is not an outlier for arts and humanities. Universities have been gutting FTE for these programs for some time. It is the business model of higher ed. How cheaply can Gen Eds be offered in the humanities to offset increasing expenses in STEM (research faculty, facilities), athletics (unless you are one of the Big Five self-supporting programs), and administration. In my state, all students take approximately 1/3 of their total credits in Gen Ed requirements, most of which fall into humanities requirements. It benefits deans and provosts to outsource as much of these credits as they can to adjunct labor. Two adjuncts teaching four, three-hour classes costs a lot less than one faculty member teaching four, plus benefits. This then frees up resources for other projects. The flip side is, if you are too efficient with this, you will never get full time faculty lines reinstated or instated for your unit. But hey, you look good to boards for your “financial stewardship.”


  3. To follow up on what some others have said — as the jobs at colleges and universities get so terrible, why do new PhDs not take more “off-brand” work? Teach high school, or become a loan officer at a bank, or something, and make at least twice what this offers. Plus, the schedule you lay out above leaves the person no time for her own research, presumably what she really wants to do. Is it really impossible to write and get published as an “independent”? (Maybe it is, I have no idea.)

    Is it the stigma against working outside the academy? Is it that people who step outside tend to realize how hopeless it really is and don’t come back?

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would say because that’s why they went into it — to get that increasingly non-existent TT job. Most of them haven’t been advised well because their advisors care more about recruiting students to keep their programs going than they care about the students themselves, and students tend to trust their advisors, so they don’t do their own research into the market. Being a student for a long time creates a sense of dependency too, so most of us are not ready to be proactive, do our own research into the job market, and make smart decisions even as we approach graduation, much less before we get sucked into the program to begin with.

      The first and most intelligent decision is to not pursue a Ph.D. to begin with unless you can do it, somehow, debt free. Same goes for law school. After that, the second smart thing is to get a private sector job right away, or start your own business, and adjunct one class a semester just to keep your hand in it, working on publications and applying for jobs. If you’re lucky enough to get an offer, you can compare it and the work you’ll be doing to your life now and be able to make a smart, rather than desperate, decision like taking a $28K job that will work you 50 hours a week.


      • The conversation has passed this by, but I’ll say: It’s not correct to compare a PhD in something like German to a law degree. A law degree is three years and, while many have trouble finding jobs when they graduate, jobs exist and some pay quite well. A PhD is many years and seems to lead to slavery jobs like the one profiled or no job at all. Loans are less of a problem when you are actually making a living.

        Also, while it’s sort of a myth that a JD prepares you to do anything that isn’t being a lawyer, you can be an entrepreneur as a lawyer in a way that you can’t as a PhD; i.e., you can start your own law firm but you can’t start your own German department.

        So, while I’d agree that it seems like getting a PhD is not ever going to be a good idea in today’s climate (barring personal wealth), whether getting a law degree is a good idea depends on the student and her circumstances and mindset. To give the most lawyerly of answers, it depends.


    • Depending on your field and experience, it’s not so easy to “become a loan officer at a bank, or something.” Most private sector employers are looking for people with relevant skills and experience, and strangely they don’t think writing a doctoral dissertation on some obscure topics counts.

      Liked by 2 people

      • My Orchideenfach PhD has been welcomed by a series of private sector employers- but I’m in IT, and they’re used to quirky employees.


      • I got a Ph.D. in French, and decided to go into IT/software (I was lucky in that software engineering has been a persistent hobby of mine since childhood). In fact, I switched careers while still completing the final stages of my dissertation.

        I was happy to list my (soon-to-be and then actual) Ph.D. on my resume, and every single one of my employers and potential employers has loved it. It’s a good discussion point, for one. It also makes you stand out in the crowd. Lastly– it has probably helped my salary negotiations, too. Even though it’s not a relevant degree, it’s still a degree and proof of certain skills and experience (analysis, research, independent/remote work, etc.).


    • Dear Overestimated:

      I think getting a Ph.D. is comparable to getting a law degree in a number of ways. The point isn’t that law jobs exist or not. The point is that law schools have been over-producing JDs for about a decade now and there are 2-3x as many graduates as there are available jobs, at least. There are very low numbers for those TT foreign language jobs, but that’s also partly because there are few programs, which also means a smaller pool of recent Ph.Ds.

      Overproduction of law school grads — that law schools were criminally encouraging by lying about placement rates — also compounds the problems with starting your own “law firm,” which for many people is a one-person show chasing ambulances. That’s hardly stable income. Public defenders have a more regular gig and benefits, but that’s scraping the bottom for pay. It’s the equivalent of being a public school teacher with just slightly higher pay, and in some cases, not even that. Law school is also notoriously expensive, even compared to Ph.D. programs. Here’s a good discussion of the state of law school in terms of cost vs. pay:


      I would only add to this discussion that it’s meaningless to paint a wide brush of complicity. Spreading blame makes it harder to solve the problem, not easier. Faculty at my school formed a subcommittee, did research, made recommendations for higher pay for adjuncts, and it all went nowhere because the school has been over budget for a couple years now. I work at a school, by the way, where the president is in the lower quartile in terms of administrator pay. This is not a place known for frivolous, self-indulgent, or lavish spending.

      How much adjuncts get paid and how many FT positions there are for adjuncts is primarily a budget concern. At some places Deans or Provosts have a lot of latitude with budgets, at other places, even the VPAA doesn’t. The worst thing about it all is that adjuncts are used to serve a general education curriculum that no one is invested in: no one goes out trying to generate excitement by saying, “We’ll be the best school for freshman comp teaching there is!” Everyone wants to build up the majors. I think that’s short sighted, but that is how it works almost everywhere.


      • Most important thing to say here: don’t be complicit in your own exploitation. Walk away. In the current environment in most colleges and universities, FT positions won’t be created until they are absolutely necessary to cover classes. When freshman leave a school because there are no classes for them, then you bet schools will find the money to create stable FT positions to cover courses previously taught by adjuncts.


  4. My friend, let’s call him Joe, earned a Fulbright to study Russian poetry, and was a highly honored PhD in Slavic Languages ten years ago, when there were exactly two positions open in his field nationally, and both of them had adverts painfully similar to this one, one at UIUC and the other at UW-M. AT MLA that year he learned that there were over 300 applicants for both, and yay! him! he got offered both. Seriously. And neither one was TT, but the UW-M one at least had a 3 year provisional contract, with a University option to decline to renew with 12 months notice. So there was that. Now, in the “even shitty stories occasionally turn out ok” department, he did a bang up job and they converted it to TT. But, yeah, academia has completed its corporatization conversion, as these sorts of position adverts are common in business–we want someone with ten years of experience for an entry level position that pays less than a living wage.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Wow! I think this is literally the worst job ad I have ever seen. And I’ve spent a year job searching in the nonprofit sector, so it’s not even the salary that shocks me (I’ve been offered full time jobs that pay what this would at 100% with no benefits…I took a glamour postdoc instead and now I’m trying to figure out how I can sell out when it ends).

    I assume “coordinate 14 sections” probably means “be the official instructor and deal with the paperwork and problems of the 10 TAs who are REALLY teaching the sections,” not “develop a new curriculum,” but that doesn’t make it any better. It just makes it look an awful lot like a fast food or retail “management” job – hey, you’re in charge so you get to be considered exempt from overtime rules and pick up everyone else’s slack for FREE!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I can’t find this job posting online to check, but is this definitely 28k and not 28.000/hour? Also in my experience the listed salary is what’s given if it’s a full-time position, so it would be 67% of 28/hour.


    • If it is a .667 appointment, that means they’re paying you for 27 hours a week of work. Even at the $28/hr, on the standard nine-month academic contract, that’s . . . a little more than $27,000 per annum. Plus “pro-rated benefits” (whatever those are).

      Unfortunately, this is a turkey job whichever way the number goes.


    • These kinds of positions are almost never listed hourly, as salaried positions are not paid on the basis of hourly wages. I took it to mean $28K a year, meaning the full time version of the position would be $47K a year. Not great for that much responsibility, but that would be at least something close to a real job since it would come with benefits. The biggest problem is that the position isn’t FT.

      By my calculations, if the pay is ⅔ time at $28/hr, then it is full time at $47/hr. That’s $1880 a week or 97,760 a year. I think we can rule out $28/hr. as the intended pay.


      • It depends on the titling of the job, though. The person who wrote this email (remember this is an “early listing”, not the actual position description) calls it a visiting lecturer, but it could be a staff position, which ARE sometimes posted as hourly. But yeah, even if it is hourly, for a 9-month position at .667 it’s, funnily enough, still $29,134/year. I was also wondering if the benefits were ON TOP of the $29, or if they were deducted from it. My first job as an academic staff member at my current university paid me $31,000 minus what was taken out for taxes, benefits, pension so my take-home was something like $19,000. They definitely, definitely weren’t asking for ABD for that, though. I just thought the period was weird, but have realized since I posted that comment that it’s likely the person who sent the posting is European, where they use the period instead of the comma.


      • Ugh, sorry, I don’t know why my brain started using 29 instead of 28. Please ignore my math above.


      • I think those are very good points still, though, Emily. “Early listing” should be made more of, perhaps, and there are significant differences between VAP jobs and staff jobs.


  7. Whoever takes this job is definitely a victim of predatory and exploitative hiring practices, but it’s the “dipshits” who will suffer the most.


  8. Typical Schulman job. Doesn’t contact the school for comment, doesn’t understand the political context, singles out an institution that’s been brutalized by Rauner, writes a cutesy little fantasy of evil admins, and flails in the comments in response to folks who actually know what’s going on.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do this job at another institution and Schulman pretty much got the hours right. It shows she had respect for her language coordinator and paid attention. The chair of the advertising department has done the job and the dean comes from the German Department. We can analyze all of the many reasons that bring the profession to this point and logically conclude that many jobs pay better than $23/hour-even the same job in another place. My starting salary 20 years ago for the same job was $37. But it is not sound fiscal policy (wherever the decision gets made) to hope to find a young, enthusiastic, well-trained SLA PhD who is healthy and independently wealthy.


    • And we thank her for it! Universities and administrators are not the victims, here. They are collaborators.


  9. If this job wasn’t bleak enough already, the UIC German department is housed in an aging Brutalist tower that looms over the rest of a fairly ugly chunk of campus that has freeways to both the north and east. The windows in the tower are recessed, so it feels like you are in some sort of concrete cave that bizarrely has a view of the Chicago skyline. I was only there once for a short visit, but the interior of that building is one of the most oppressive and unpleasant spaces I’ve ever experienced.


  10. The conversation you describe in this post is pretty much exactly the one that took place in my department, except with the outcome that there was no .67% position offered, and the dean’s response was to hold graduate funding ransom until the current language coordinator was fired. In the neoliberal university, budgets are always someone else’s fault, even when the administrators are literally holding the money in question.


    • Clarissa, one of my trolls insists that I’m the bad guy because I don’t know the public Illinois market. As someone more familiar with said market, can you confirm that your starting salary was higher than 28K? 😝


      • Ok by that metric this job should pull in $129,000, since the person is the instructor of record for 17 courses. Your core argument, that this is a 2-1 teaching job with “some admin,” is hilarious. It is a full-time administrative position with a 2-1 load thrown on top for shits.


  11. If the numbers are right, this ad is an insult. If the numbers are wrong, it is a mirror of the department, namely sloppy and careless. I worked for the same money 17 years ago as a FT ESL instructor in an intensive English program in Arkansas. That meant 20 class contact hours, office hours, contributions such as designing professional development workshops, organizing outreach, creating, launching, and teaching a certificated online teacher-training course, rewriting the curriculum, and evaluating other instructors. It kept me very busy.

    Disclosure – the terminal degree at the time for my field was a Masters, which I had.

    Later, I taught high school, gaining the necessary certification as I taught. Setting – urban Oakland, CA and San Jose, CA. The pay and benefits were great, far exceeding college instruction salaries, but there were also costs. Due to the budget crisis in California at the time, I got a pink notice every March. It stated that my job might not be funded the following year. Thankfully, by July, the funds were in place and I was employed, but the wait was taxing. Both school districts were emotionally difficult gigs, not only due to the usual homework resistant, cell-phone using, socially driven, and badly behaved teens, but also because the district lacked funds for even the basics like a librarian in the library, or a tech for the 100 computers. More heartbreaking, many of the students entered the classroom with no skills, including reading. It was sad and grueling at the same time, and it called upon stamina such as that required by my tour in the Peace Corps and the dig-deep creativity of a third world posting to find ways to teach a 10th grade literature curriculum to students who read at a 3rd grade level.

    The ad you so humorously parsed ignores the depth of skill and energy required to create a productive and results-driven classroom.


  12. A favourite trick on a sink-estate around Oxford was to try and entice both police officers out of the patrol car and when out of view another miscreant would pour a pint of milk on the back seat. A slow brewing revenge which led to the car being taken off the road to have new seats. It was never the same though.


  13. While I didn’t read all the way throught the comments, I did scan and it seems no one addresses your horrifying dead trunkmilk issue. Buy a large can of cheap coffee and pour it in the back of the trunk. Let sit a week or two then vacuum out.

    Worked for a fish snafu in my trunk.


    • Thank you for addressing this EXTREMELY IMPORTANT ISSUE. The Schumans are big outsourcers so the Retchmobile is at the detailers’ at prez, but what do you wanna bet that they’ve done exactly that? Little works better to absorb odor than coffee–and, bonus, little smells better to me. If it were the coffeemobile I’d never want to get out.


  14. Make no mistake, I completely agree with the gist of your post that the salary offered for this undergraduate director position is pitiful. Discrediting this kind of non-tenure track position to such a degree is a serious error, considering the role this person assumes in nurturing current German students and potential future scholars of the field. However, it is your implied stance on graduate students with which I take serious issue. I’m not sure if I misinterpreted your tone, but I assure you, the graduate students I work with are not “bullshit” or “dipshits,” by any means. Yes, the undergraduate director is very important in keeping graduate students on track, but all of the “supervising” in the world will not actually teach 14 sections of language courses. That’s up to the “TAs,” which is a misnomer, because, let’s face it, they are the sole instructors of these courses. I find it disingenuous that you express such outrage for the devaluing of the undergraduate director position, while simultaneously devaluing the very people (graduate students) who carry out major work for said director, just because they are further down on the totem pole. There is clearly a structural problem of exploitation for non-TT positions like this, but don’t pretend that graduate students aren’t also subjected a level of exploitation, at the bottom of the hierarchy, strung along for much lower pay by perks such as “tuition waivers”.


    • You misinterpret my tone. I was basing my comment on my own self in 2007 when I taught German for the first time and required no small amount of training and oversight. People who don’t know how to teach yet need guidance and that guidance takes time. If you’re more concerned with one word I use to be funny than the future of your discipline of 28k jobs forever, I don’t know what to tell you.


  15. I was recently-ish a grad student (not, ahem, a bullshit one ;)) in this very department. I’m speaking from my own impressions, and not for the person who was language program director at that time, but: that job is a shit ton of work. The person I knew who did this job did it admirably, and I really hope they got paid more than that (the budget crisis was a slightly smaller trash fire back then, so maybe the department was able to wrangle more money, oh please god let it be so), because there is no way in hell this is a 67% appointment, or that this is adequate compensation. Thanks for calling attention to this.


    • I’m very sorry I used that shit nomenclature. I was trying to find a colorful way to emphasize that much of the time, training and overseeing 10 grad students who are just learning to teach a FL is no small matter.


      • Aw, I knew what you meant! Anyway, you’re right – teaching 10 grad students to teach FL is a huge amount of work, and some of the stuff beginning language teachers say/do/ask probably does feel like bullshit to someone experienced. The person who held this job when I was there chaired weekly meetings with grad students to talk about teaching issues (although OF COURSE the grad students would also constantly burst into their office in a panic at unscheduled times, especially when the “blended learning” parts of the basic language program would glitch, which meant that no matter how well the LPD had scheduled their time, they were constantly being interrupted, but I’m digressing). At these meetings this person was able to literally solve every teaching problem that every one of those grad students had – *because this person already had many years of teaching experience and a PhD*, also known as “extremely specialized high-level skills and qualifications for which a person should be fairly compensated”.


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