[Homestead] Cost of College

Bill Jones billj at harborside.com
Sun Feb 20 14:28:13 EST 2005

That's what I made, almost.  For a single male in the City it was like 
being rich.  I never looked at the amount of taxes taken out.

Actually our class size was higher.  I never calculated in real terms 
what fraction of the college's dollar was actually going to me, but 
since I was at the lower end of the pay scale (doing it mostly out of 
love), with the higher class size (they're paid by the body) I suspect 
that only about 25% of the take went to the teacher.

English and math are in a class by themselves, almost, with large 
amounts of detailed homework that need correcting.  But most college 
math teachers don't grade all the homework (checking every last pencil 
stroke would be ideal), since there's no specific requirement to do so.  
It's highly correlated with the bestowal of tenure, whereupon no one 
looks over their shoulder.  Many have a system where they grade just a 
few of the assigned problems in detail, but don't tell the kids exactly 
which problems, so if you don't do the hardest ones you'll likely fail 
the assignment.  But it's pointless anyway at the lower levels to grade 
homework, since there are published solution manuals that one can just copy.

You're quite correct.  The $5 billion spent on lower-end college in CA 
is just the beginning.  Many more prima donnas await in the CSU and UC 
systems, but I have no data on the expenditures.  But I've observed (as 
a student) that people with Ph. D. degrees are routinely teaching 
everyday beginning calculus, when the same topic is easily taught by 
anyone with a master's degree (or lower, in the event of real 
competence) for much less salary.  But in fact you find the opposite.  
Over the years the CSU and UC have been purged of anyone with "only" an 
M. S., and the CCC has been similarly purged of anyone with "only" a B. 
S.  And you'll find another parallel; collectively those low-level 
courses (that could easily by taught by someone one degree lower) are 
typically more numerous in the class schedule (especially when measured 
in terms of units, rather than sections) than upper-division or graduate 

I just always wonder why we can't open up the teaching profession to all 
those who can, instead of dogmatically choosing teachers on the details 
of their sheepskin.  Albert Einstein wouldn't have been allowed anywhere 
near an elementary classroom, in the world created by the teachers' 
unions, because he (I surmise) didn't have an elementary ed. teaching 
credential.  Who knows, he might have made a bad teacher.  But why 
wouldn't one want to at least give him a try?


Marie McHarry wrote:

><<Bill: But there's no doubt that $100 a unit is about the minimum you could run 
>a college for, especially with fewer suits running around scheduling 
>faculty meetings.  It's the same number you get if you figure from the 
>point of view of teachers' salaries vs. class size.  A teacher is paid 
>$30,000 to manage 30 enrollees in 5 classes per semester, two semesters 
>a year. >> 
>I hope your pay scale is a little out of date, though I fear it's not.
>Twenty-five years ago I got US$15000 to teach 3 classes of writing per
>quarter (20 students/class). That was a more-than-40-hour-per-week job --
>more like 50 or 60 because I read all the stuff the kiddies wrote, commented
>on it, and explained how they could re-write. I wouldn't even consider 5
>classes of 30 enrollees for $30000. There are better ways to kill myself. If
>you move beyond the community college, costs go up all around. Professors
>aren't going to be working for peon wages, and overhead costs are going to
>be higher, I suspect, at regular universities than at CCs.
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