Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Thinking Out Loud

I suppose that there is nothing keeping us bumping class sizes up to the maximum allowable by the fire code. We could squeeze 45 students into a class for most of the intro math courses.

Of course you do realize that we aren't the only game in town. We're paying people with a masters degree in math about $30,000 a year to teach a full load here. In a building with no air conditioning and 10-Base-2 internet (did I mention that part of this building has been condemned?). To low-level students who are frequently indistinguishable from community college students. The community college doesn't pay any worse than we do. I hear they have better a/c and more parking. And smaller class sizes. And, yes, it's true that the private college near the airport won't hire on a permanent full-time basis if you only have a masters, but all their classes have fewer than 20 students in them. And their photocopier doesn't break down nearly as often as ours does. Our campus probably has several "staff" positions that pay better than teaching math. I'd suspect that a decent number of people in the math department could go work in institutional research or statistical consulting or IT or even student services.

We could bump the class sizes up to whatever the rooms would hold. But I'm guessing that we'd be stuck staffing those ugly and bloated courses with the adjunct who we swore not to hire ever again and whoever else we could trick into working under these conditions. I suspect that most of the folks teaching at this level could nearly quadruple their salaries by going to work for an investment bank. If it's not worth working here, I wouldn't be surprised if the best people left. But there's nothing really stopping us from running large sections of college algebra.