Sunday, April 6, 2014

Still Among the Living

If there were ever a time in my college teaching career that I needed Spring Break, this was that year. Unfortunately, the breaks for my two schools did not align this term and I just had a lighter teaching load for two weeks. I also had a bad cold followed by the flu and those compounded by a recurrent health condition I've had since a child. If I had a dollar for every person who told me to get to the doctor, I could've afforded to actually GO to the doctor!

Here in the United States we recently hit the deadline to enroll in the ACA, or Affordable Care Act---known to many of us as the Not So Affordable Care Act.  A couple of other adjuncts, both in person and on-line discussed with me their frustrations about not being able to enroll.  Most of them work at more than one school. Some of the schools, like my School Two, explicitly will not give us adjuncts more than nine credit hours per term to avoid the new government requirement to provide full time employees healthcare. I suppose since in America that corporations are people, and often more valued than the actual people living in America, they can get away with this. Therefore, though I work more than a full time person, I have no healthcare covered by my employers--School One cut our hours to avoid having to convert any of us to full time permanent employees due to our long term work histories (this was told to us out loud and in person, it was not related to ACA avoidance as some presume).  This made our once affordable coverage coming from living wage checks impossible to afford on our drastically reduced pay.

Like my adjunct colleagues, I enthusiastically checked into the ACA early on. Though it is somewhat situation-based, the lowest price plan has horrendously high deductibles. The second one was too much a month.  The next one up was absurdly too much.  Other folks like me had the same basic assessment.  To make matters worse, many states including the one in which I live, refused to expand low income programs, thus leaving a big gap between who gets coverage by the state and those who can afford to pay for their own.  A great deal of adjuncts are caught in that gap.

However, onward we drag ourselves to get to work.  I worry about canceling classes at either place, unwilling to be seen as someone neglecting my duties.  I don't want to give any place any reason to fire me.  The fact that I speak up for adjunct issues is probably enough to land me on some sort of hit list, if anyone has been paying attention.  Additionally, one of my classes only meets once a week and to call that off would be a nightmare to reschedule and still get the students all they need for the term.  The very worst part has been my severely reduced lack of energy.  Energy is a valuable commodity when teaching five writing-heavy classes at two schools 58 miles apart!

During this time I calculated midterm grades for around 97 students and graded approximately 327 papers. This doesn't count quizzes and small in-class work. I still have a backlog of about forty rewrites and some on-line discussions to score.  I hope to finally get these off my conscious this weekend.  I do not like hold work more than two weeks, but I found myself forced to prioritize those assignments needed to continue other projects and let these sort of terminal ones wait.  It bothers me anyway. It isn't doing my usual best.  At one of the schools for certain there is a question on the end of term survey that asks about my promptness in returning work:  I will get hammered on that, and rightly so.  It isn't like me to be so sick or slow.  There's some shame in that.

I hope to get back to my regular posting schedule.  I've missed this and there have been strange and not always wondrous developments to report.

Now, it's time to sleep.

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