I support Dan Wightman's positive remarks about part-time college instructors (Letters, Feb. 29), but his situation, teaching one class, seems exceptional to me. Speaking as an officer of the California Faculty Assn. at SDSU, and editor of "The Quarterly Lecturer," the statewide CFA publication for CSU part-time faculty, I know many lecturers who are very professional, very dedicated, but also very much full-time teachers, long-term dependent on these "temporary" part-time jobs for their livelihood.
However satisfying the work, part-time teachers are not fairly paid. Part-time teaching, ostensibly providing "flexibility," avoidance of excessive numbers of tenured faculty, is a money saving device, a two-tiered system which turns particularly dark and paradoxical in the professional setting: Two classes of faculty are created, the lower one accepting unprofessional compensation, diminished academic freedom, and lack of voice in governance to prove, ironically, professional dedication. "Surplus" monies often pay building and administrative costs, rather than fairer salaries for those who do the work of teaching.
The taxpayers certainly get more than they pay for, but I seriously doubt that they would approve saving money by exploiting such a talented and idealistic group of teachers. Positive change is under way, supported by CFA and many decent and generous tenured faculty, but it is not easy, and broader public awareness of the problem would help.