Recently, Gov. Janet Mills proposed a minimum salary of $40,000 for Maine teachers. 

Though I applaud the proposal, I think Mainers need know to know that full-time adjunct professors with the Community College System and the University of Maine System earn less than that amount. In short, adjunct professors earn around $2,100 to $2,300 per course with the Community College System, and between $2,900 and $3,900 per course with the University of Maine System.

When one factors how full-time employment is equal to eight courses per academic year, your average full-time adjunct professor only earns between $17,000 to $32,000 per year. Additionally, they are not eligible for health benefits. In sum, they earn around $15 to $18 per hour — the average wage of the custodial staff at both institutions.

In Maine, then, higher education is coming at the cost of requiring highly trained teachers to work for poverty wages. As I playfully noted to a colleague, this might be termed “Crimes Against Humanities.”

Such a modest wage, too, leads to a high turnover rate so that departments find it difficult to maintain consistent curriculums. There is also an issue of equal pay for equal work in that full-time professors are paid significantly more to teach the same courses.

Augusta, then, needs to be aware that hundreds of adjuncts already earn significantly less than the lowest-paid elementary school teachers. Additionally, because Maine funds around 40 percent of the Community College System’s budget, such an undignified wage reflects badly on the state.

Finally, as teachers who are training the next generation of accountants, teachers, nurses, etc., we are job creators and are as vital to the economy as our entrepreneurs. Let’s then expand the governor’s proposal to include adjunct professors.

 

Dennis Camire

adjunct professor

Central Maine Community College and University of Maine at Augusta

West Paris


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