News | Academics

TC students say pay gap for TAs unfair

Teachers College students are paid substantially less than Columbia students to serve as teaching assistants and to teach in the Core Curriculum—a disparity that has many TC students up in arms.

Core preceptors from TC earn slightly more than half of what preceptors from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences earn, and TAs in TC classes generally make no more than a fifth of what TAs in Arts and Sciences classes make. And despite claims that TC’s finances are improving dramatically, student leaders say that administrators have not yet committed to a specific plan to increase funding.

Teachers College administrators dispute that an unfair pay disparity exists, but TC students say that the issue is real and one of basic equity. Justin Snider, a TC doctoral student and former University Writing preceptor, said that while he was willing to teach for free, the pay gap between TC students and GSAS students is not right.

“You shouldn’t pay people differently based on their affiliation,” Snider said. “At the end of the day we’re all doing exactly the same work, so how do you justify the different pay?”

‘Equity in education’
The Faculty of Arts and Sciences, which includes Columbia College, the School of International and Public Affairs, the School of the Arts, and the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, pays graduate students—including TC students—$6,000 per semester to teach undergraduates in the Core. But preceptors from GSAS, who are typically in their sixth or seventh year of doctoral study, also receive an extension of their full fellowship stipend to teach Core classes—which brings their total funding to almost $12,000 per semester—as well as free tuition and reduced fees.

TC, though, does not offer this additional funding, meaning TC preceptors only get the $6,000. According to GSAS Associate Dean Jan Allen, TC informed students in January 2009 that, due to deteriorating finances, they would no longer be able to offer any fellowship support to TC Core preceptors.

Allen said she anticipated that TC would reestablish this level of support as soon as they had the budget for it, but in the meantime, GSAS students make twice as much money as TC students do while teaching the same classes.

Jay Shuttleworth, a doctoral student and a Contemporary Civilization preceptor this year, noted that TC “champions equity in education.”

“It would be a good idea to seek equity in education for its own students, not just in theory,” Shuttleworth said.

TC Deputy Provost John Allegrante said that since the additional funds GSAS preceptors receive come from GSAS-specific fellowship support, the actual pay for teaching in the Core is the same for everyone. He added, though, that improving financial support for doctoral students is a priority for administrators.

“While we currently cannot match the level of support that GSAS has provided its full-time doctoral students … President [Susan] Fuhrman and Provost [Thomas] James are deeply committed to strengthening doctoral funding support and implementing a model that would more closely resemble that of GSAS,” Allegrante said in an email.

In Fall 2008, three TC University Writing instructors persuaded administrators to award them three points of tuition funding in addition to their base salary. That credit was not awarded in subsequent years.

The preceptor pay gap has led some students to question TC’s financial relationship with Columbia. GSAS awards the doctorates to Teachers College Ph.D. students, but TC is also a legally separate institution, with its own trustees, budget, and endowment.

That creates a “kind of finger pointing” when it comes to preceptor pay, Snider said. “Both parties say it’s the other school’s responsibility.”

‘An enormous amount of work’
The difference in compensation is even greater between TAs in TC courses and TAs in non-Core Arts and Sciences classes. Standard pay for TAs for Arts and Sciences classes is $5,000 per semester. The pay for TAs at TC varies between departments, but students say that it is typically in the range of $800-$1000 per class per semester.

Allegrante said in an email that there are “fundamental and important differences” between serving as a TA in undergraduate classes and serving as a TA in graduate classes, with the graduate courses taught at TC entailing significantly less work for TAs. He also said that the administration has launched a “full-scale review” of TA pay and responsibilities.

But students dispute the assertion that TAs for TC classes do less work than their counterparts for Arts and Sciences classes. Many said that the responsibilities for TAs at TC are not clearly defined—in contrast to Columbia’s clear guidelines—and that as a result, TAs often perform extensive duties without adequate compensation because they are eager to gain teaching experience.

“There are plenty of cases where TAs are given an enormous amount of work, including basically teaching the class,” Ruaridh MacLeod, a CC preceptor and former University Senator from TC, said. “Professors deliberately abuse this kind of opportunity, because people … have to get some teaching experience on their CV.”

TC Student Senate President Vikash Reddy said that even though requirements for TAs are unclear, he’s sure that they’re being exceeded.

‘They won’t even bother’
Last March, the TC Student Senate met with Fuhrman—who recently signed a new five-year contract to remain president of TC—and, according to those present, Fuhrman agreed that pay levels for preceptors and TAs were not ideal. Some students are skeptical of the school’s commitment to change, though, noting that TC administrators have touted TC’s improved financial situation without making any concrete commitments to increase funding.

“They have no interest whatsoever in following up on these vague promises,” MacLeod said.

Fuhrman has publicly embraced the goal of improving funding for doctoral students, which several students described as lagging behind that of peer education schools. Currently, 10 percent of TC doctoral students receive full funding, and Fuhrman said in her recent State of the College address that she wants to see all students receive full funding.

“There are members of the administration who are very committed to seeing a change,” Reddy said.

But many students have questioned whether administrators are serious about improving pay for preceptors. In her last State of the College address, Fuhrman said that “we have restored TC’s financial health” and announced a 30 percent increase in fundraising and a strong endowment performance in the last fiscal year.

Joshua Warren, a TA and student life chair in the TC senate, said this increased revenue may not make much of a difference to students.

“It’s a lot of money that’s going around, but not to the teachers … at least not to the adjuncts and not to the TAs,” Warren said.

Warren and others also cited a lack of transparency about TA positions.

“Everyone’s kind of running their own ship,” Warren added. “The way the information flows isn’t always as transparent as we’d like it to be.”

MacLeod said that administrators’ claims that they don’t have the resources to improve pay are “patently false.”

“The history alone suggests they won’t even bother,” MacLeod said.

henry.willson@columbiaspectator.com

Comments

Plain text

  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Your username will not be displayed if checked
CAPTCHA
This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Image CAPTCHA
Enter the characters shown in the image.
Anonymous posted on

This is a very misleading article. They do not get any increase in salary, some just get a one semester additon to their fellowship which could be worth up to six thousand. Also the GSAS students have many more yeaqrs of education.

+1
-2
-1
Anonymous posted on

I think you'll find, as per the previous 'Spectator' article on how changes in GSAS policy (i.e. not funding 7th and 8th year students, decreasing GSAS doctoral student admissions, etc.) have affected the average profile of their Core preceptors, that GSAS students do NOT have 'many more yeaqrs [sic] of education.' 

In fact, they have exactly the same levels of doctoral experience as the average TC preceptor, but significantly less teaching experience (i.e. hands-on teaching, including at College and graduate level). Despite this, TC is happy to broadcast to the entire academic community that the skills, experience, knowledge and commitment ('expertise', in a word) of its own students are worth precisely half that of their CU colleagues...

And don't get started with sniffy, superior comments about TC doctoral students being of a lower calibre than CU students. As mentioned in the article, GSAS oversees the PhD process at TC, and grants the degrees. That means that TC PhD students have to satisfy the same requirements as do other GSAS doc students, including GRE scores at admission (not that that exam is worth anything - 1200+ is no bother for anyone with a brain).

+1
+3
-1
Anonymous posted on

TC is not broadcasting anything but good sense. Why should TC pay you to teach CU's student's? I still have not heard or read a reasonable rationale for that. Perhaps that is because there isn't one.

+1
-4
-1
Anonymous posted on

Thumper, It's not that TC doesn't pay us to teach CU students, it's that TC doesn't give us any financial support whatsoever. GSAS PhD students are funded, as is the practice at most graduate schools. PhD students are compensated for their research and intellectual labor (which remains the property of the University) with stipends, free tuition and reduced student fees. This is not the case at TC, where we pay full tuition (and higher tuition than at GSAS), receive no stipend and, depending on the department, limited support in the form of redeemable tuition points, scholarships, or work-study. Arguably we work more than GSAS students, taking on outside jobs, in order to make ends meet, and the time we have to commit to work outside of our education, taking away time from our studies, contributes to the more general educational iniquity we experience. 

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

I agree. They don't even make a good, clear distinction between CU TAs at CU, TC TAs at CU, and TC TAs at TC. If the problem is the pay disparity between CU TAs from CU and CU TAs from TC, then there is a legitimate beef if the extra money for CU students is part of the salary. If, however, the extra pay is as a portion of their fellowship, scholarship, or other form of doc-student compensation, then that is not necessarily unfair, only unfortunate for TC students that their institution does not fund them as well as CU funds its doc students. BTW - is there even an issue here RE: TA pay at CU? I cannot tell from this article if CU pays TC TAs less than it pays CU TAs. The article is not particularly well written in keeping these distinctions clear.

+1
-1
-1
Anonymous posted on

KevJohn, don't blame the article - the distinctions are ambiguous! thank the article for bringing this issue to light and hope we see follow-up articles to explain the details more thoroughly. 

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

TC students are technically GSAS students, and TC is one of the highest ranked graduate schools of education and the highest ranked graduate school part of Columbia. That said, the fact that they don't fund doctoral students is disgusting.

+1
+2
-1
Anonymous posted on

I can't believe undergraduates get paid extremely more money than PhD candidates (less than 1% of the U.S. population)!!!! These processes are why the OCCUPY movement is happening in our own backyard.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

120th street is the widest street in NYC (metaphorically).  TC wants to
claim it is part (affiliate) of Columbia but the student teaching
assistants at Columbia are paid more than the adjunct professors (with
their PhD) are paid at TC.  Teachers College is taking advantage of its
teachers (TAs and adjuncts) and using the Columbia name to create false
expectations for new students.  Each TC student enrolled in a three
credit class at TC pays tuition for that one class that is about the
same as the combined pay for an adjunct professor and teaching assistant;
and there might be 30 students in that class. Where is the money
going?  What does it actually mean to be an affiliate institution of Columbia? 
Are TC students really Columbia students? Or are we merely Columbia in
name only and actually more like a masters mill than an ivy?

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

 close teachers college. let the cuny system run graduate schools of education

+1
-3
-1
Anonymous posted on

Go screw yourself.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

It's nice that 10% of TC doc students are fully funded. Who are they? I have never met one. I am in the 90% of TC doc students who are barely funded (i.e. less than $15K in aid in 5 years), and I am working as a TA for $800 for the semester - because I need the experience. I am all for changes in funding for future doctoral students, but I have to ask: What about those of us who will graduate well in excess of $150K in debt, who will continue to publish and in so doing, whether we want to or not, continue to bring fame and honor to the name of Teachers College? The school will continue to benefit from our work long after we have left, but we will continue to pay for our choice to attend TC for the next 30 years.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

Try doing six years with a total funding amount of $2200. That being said, none of us 'deserve' any funding. No one is guaranteed a graduate education. There is no inherent right of the academically proficient to have their education's paid for. So much whining from an already mostly privileged class (whether economically, intellectually, or otherwise).

+1
-2
-1
Anonymous posted on

Thumper needs to thump himself in the head (presuming s/he is male, certainly has the stink of male ego). While NYU and many/most other good schools offer 100% tuition and generous living stipends to ALL of their PhD students, there *is* some reason to expect to be funded for the work you do and acclaim you bring to the institution. The adage about paying for your master's and being paid to get your doctorate still applies...just not at TC.

+1
-2
-1
Anonymous posted on

Still an expectation that you should not have had coming to TC. All you needed to do was ask around and you would have known what the funding situation was like before you came. If you didn't do your homework before coming, that's on you. If you knew what it would be like coming in (as I did) then you shouldn't complain.

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

That would be a reasonable point if TC were actually an institution that conducted itself in a reasonable and at least somewhat transparent manner, Thumper.

Instead - and I know this from my own case - students are often mislead, if not outright lied to when they come to interview. I know of many doctoral students, including my own case, who were told that they were being awarded a full funding package and that they should not worry as 'they would be looked after, with GA/RA-ships', etc. These same students found, upon arrival, that the package was nothing of the kind. Even those who may actually have received something like 'full' funding (which is usually just a bunch of tuition points, with no redeemable value) watched the funding vanish or be drastically reduced during the second year, without any apparent justification.

And, given the deliberate policy to misrepresent themselves, programs within the College will often chaperone interviewing students with hand-picked flunkies, who tell all manner of lies about what to expect. These people, being the 'chosen' ones in the 10% who are funded (and never on account of merit, either: it's usually because they either donated money to the program/college; have a powerful relative; or are politically useful to the faculty member in charge of funding (and I say this knowing examples of each type)), will also swear that they live a great life, that funding is not a concern, etc. This means that legitimate questions are met with unrepresentative answers at best, deliberately misleading ones at worst...

If you think that people can then go and research the funding situation at TC, after being told that they'll be funded, and that students live a great life, I'd love for you to tell me where I should start looking. I don't see the College committed to making public any such information, precisely because, as others have mentioned, who gets funded and for what reasons, are not based on any published criteria - they're based on nothing but mercenary motives, greed, vanity, and anything else entirely antithetical to notion of academic merit that you might care to name.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

The first three doc students I spoke to when I visited all told me to beware of the bait-and-switch. They said funding here sucks and if you have another alternative, take it. I had other alternatives, but they weren't in NYC, so I sucked it up, worked 3 jobs, and will get out of here this spring with less than $10k in loans and I did it in 6 years (MA and PhD). Don't tell me you couldn't find info. Grad students worthy of the designation ought to be resourceful enough to not rely only on the publicly posted PR-laden tripe that all schools float. Too many students are dazzled by the TC reputation and fail to look beyond the facade. Those are YOUR mistakes, not TC's.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

Yep, that happened to me. 

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

A previous post of mine was deleted, I assume because it was classified as self-promoting or too personal. The trouble with this issue of inequity in funding, however, is that it is an institutional issue with extreme and devastating personal effects on the lives of students - doctoral students in particular. It is personal.

Teachers College does seem to function more as a masters mill, as TCstudent suggested, than as an institution dedicated to the research and improvement of educational systems in the US and internationally. I suspect that if funding to TC doctoral students increased, so would the quality and depth of our research, as we could spend that much more time dedicated to the causes we care so deeply about.

+1
-2
-1
Anonymous posted on

But WHERE is the funding to come from? Right now, TC would have to increase its MA enrollment by a significant amount AND reduce its doctoral student enrollment significantly in order to fully fund its doctoral students. You think TC is an MA-mill now? Wait until they do what you ask...

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

Thumper, the whole business model needs to change. The government licensing of teachers is also complicit in escalating this masters-mill mentality.  Many students are literally just trying to buy a degrees to certify in an arbitrary state license scheme or to up their pay grade.  Many doctoral students are part-timers with other careers. There is no excuse for not paying our teachers. Students are paying for the classes and not being adequately funded.  Ok but what about the students working for the College why aren't they being paid?

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

Maybe you should ask students who've seen detailed budget reports... Those who have - like the former program assistant who commented below, but there are plenty of others - are under no illusions about whether there's enough money to pay doctoral students. The only illusion is this idea that 'TC doesn't have any money.'

Like Warren says: where does all the money go?

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

I’m
with TCstudent and SorryEdstudent on this: TC is definitely a masters mill, if
you see the year-on-year increase in enrollments, and the fact that some
masters students can barely speak any English.

 

I’m not
sure about the doctoral part – there are some talented students and profs doing
significant research, but all too often mediocrity is allowed to become the
defining feature of what’s produced. This is most probably largely due to the
fact that TC has a policy of, as SorryEdstudent has found, letting in far more
doctoral students than it can either afford (to fund) or support (with meaningful
advisement). Indeed, there is one program I know of where the doctoral
student-to-professor ration is something like 20-30:1. And that’s better than
the situation for the masters students in that program: they have the ignominy
of being advised by a 7th year doctoral student who can’t even
organize their own thesis (hence being in the 7th year, with nothing
to show for it), let alone successfully advise others.

 

I've
also heard from people who've seen the exit surveys. Apparently, it's the only
forum in which students don't hold back for fear of vicious reprisal. And to
say the feedback is 'overwhelmingly negative' on all fronts (including the
quality of taught courses, academic standards, lack of funds and funding,
transparency in relation to all and every decision of important, lack of
accountability from professors all the way up to administrators, failing
resources - especially the Library, which wastes unfathomable amounts of money
on vanity projects such as pressible - the list could just about cover every
facet of life at TC) would be to indulge in either an instance of litotes, or
else a banality - for the simple reason that no other term could sufficiently convey
the force of the anger, frustration and contempt for the way in which students
are treated...

+1
-2
-1
Anonymous posted on

I'm a little late reading these post.  Does anyone know how many doctorate students and how many masters students are admitted?  I'm especially interested in the TESOL program.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

I too have yet to meet this blessed 10 % because funding is handled in a very opaque, if not downright secretive manner.  And given the difficulties that many PhD students openly face to fund their studies and lives in NYC, why would those benefiting from the largesse of a few enlightened program chairs flaunt their good fortunes - which is what these packages amount to given the non-transparent way that doctoral funding is decided.  TC clearly needs to reassess its own institutional priorities beyond the vague promises of an increasingly out of touch administration, but the article shows that the whole university suffers if Columbia affiliates are not allowed to meaningfully participate in the broad educational goals reflected in the Core Curriculum.

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

The first thing to be clear about in this problem is that TC is not like SIPA or the Law School. It is, technically, a completely separate institution with its own trustees, own president, and own endowment. Acknowledge this and you are halfway there. As a result, you must differentiate between a TA in a TC course and a TA in a CU course in the same way that you would an NYU course or Fordham course. They are essentially different schools with different pay structures and it is simply not reasonable to expect all schools to pay the same. So TC pays less. If you don't like it, don't take the job. Further, TC is a grad school only, and thus the TA job is significantly different. Technically, TC TAs are not supposed to grade papers, and as a TA of an undergrad course at CU grading papers is your most significant task. I've been a TA at both places and the CU TA gig was significantly more arduous than TC's.

More importantly, regarding the Core, CU pays Preceptors $6,000 per semester to teach two sections ($3k per class). That CU kicks in an additional $6k for its students is merely a bonus for CU students, and bully for them. CU has the endowment cash to do it, TC does not. Other affiliates may choose to add more for their students, TC included. However, why should we expect TC to give someone $6k to teach CU students? Hey, I teach a class at Hunter–should I demand that TC match that salary? It would be ridiculous to contemplate. TC can barely come up with $1k for a TA in its own courses. It would be foolish to pay someone to do something they are already going to do, especially when it does not even benefit TC students (with the exception of the lucky few who get to teach in the Core). BTW - the average rate per course for an instructor (non-doctorate holding adjunct) at TC is approx $3000, so $3k at the core is on par with that. You can argue that $3k is too little for that work, but you cannot make that argument from a point of comparison.

The problem here is not that TC is taking advantage of its students (at least not in this case); the problem is that CU is 'spiffing' its own students, creating a Jones-effect for non-CU students. It isn't that TC preceptors are getting ripped off, its just that TC preceptors want what CU preceptors get, and that is simply neither CU nor TC's problem; it is the problem of those who feel entitled to more money. Additionally, for 5 years now I have been aware that if I wanted to be a Preceptor at CU I was only going to get $3k per class. I chose to find better paying, if lower prestige, options elsewhere. If you didn't want the gig or the $$$ they are paying, then why did you take it? You knew what the pay was going in.

TC's funding problem is way, way bigger than a few preceptors—students, by the way, that we ought not feel too sorry for. They get a killer line on their CV, excellent experience, and get to teach at one of the finest universities the US has to offer. Oh, and they pick up $12,000/year for their toil. Yeah, so totally exploited. TC's problem is their unsustainable revenue model. They simply cannot "properly" (i.e. competitively) fund doctoral students using MA tuition with an expensive, aging faculty, and maintenance-hungry old facilities.

+1
+2
-1
Anonymous posted on

  "TC's problem is their unsustainable revenue model." YES!

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

no, the problem is this whole system of 'affiliates' that CU is busy running allowing for the presence of dual policies for similar sets of students leading to unsatisfactory educational experiences and unhappy alumni. CU needs to decide whether it wants to be a Cornell or a HYPSMDB. There is a huge need for more centralization and integration within this entire university

+1
-1
-1
Anonymous posted on

Some excellent points, Thumper, old boy. I'll even give you credit for finally reaching the crux of the matter at the end of your eloquent rant: that TC is not, in fact, a viable concern in its current form. But, as with your cartoon namesake, you're a little too eager to overlook the fact that the motivation behind this article is not whining, but to, in a public forum, call TC's bluff on this shoddy pretence that (1) it is a leading graduate school; (2) that it cares about its students; and (3) that the administration (including Susan Fuhrman) continually talk a good game, but simply have no interest in ever delivering on the rhetorical promises.

To address some of the facts that you brush off: (1) TC preceptors are not dreaming up demands for compensation in line with their CU colleagues out of a sense of entitlement. I can say this with every confidence because the TC preceptors before this cohort were paid the same amount as GSAS preceptors, thereby establishing the rightness of the argument that TC preceptors should be entitled to that extra money. (2) This line of argument is actually confirmed by Susan Fuhrman herself when, in the meeting with the TC Student Senate (and in subsequent public announcements), she declared that, in future, she wished to see TC doctoral students given funding, but for jobs that contributed to their academic development. The preceptor position, fulfilling the necessary requirement to have taught at college level for those wishing to go on to professorial positions, is the very paradigm of the job she's talking about, and yet they still refuse to attach any funding to the job. (3) TC does have the money to pay its preceptors in line with GSAS. The article shows this when it quotes the TC website which boasts of the 30% extra revenue from gift income they have achieved as part of their capital campaign - money which Allegrante specifically promised would be used to provide additional money to preceptors, doctoral students and TA's. Again, we have yet to see any evidence that such money will be used for the good of students, rather than to fund yet more administrative jollies, vanity projects and most probably more administrative positions.

The point of the preceptors going to press about this is because they've had enough of the 'BS' TC spouts. It sells itself as a top-ranked ed. school, charges top 5-10% tuition in the nation, and trades heavily on the cachet of the Columbia brand. An yet, the fundamentals show it to be an appalling institution for its students: it does not fund its students or provide resources in line with any of the other top ed. schools (who generally fund doctoral students, and do not admit more students than they can afford to support and advise), the quality of the overall student experience is dire, and frequently masters students who pay through the nose to go there have to supplement their expensive degrees with further courses at other institutions after they've graduated because they find their TC qualification equips them to do nothing with any degree of skill or authority.

So, this isn't really about an undue sense of entitlement. It's more about exposing the years of lies and misrepresentations that TC indulges in (including the practice of verbally promising 'full funding' to prospective doctoral students at interview, only for that funding to disappear or tail off sharply after the first year - verbal promises not being worth the paper they're not written on), at the expense of its students. We regularly hear administrators push the party line that they care about their students and faculty, when it plainly obvious that they run that place purely to line their own pockets, and to indulge their own concerns. Students always come last as a priority, and its about time everybody knew that.

+1
+2
-1
Anonymous posted on

Look, if you (I presume you are a preceptor in the Core and from TC) were receiving the exact same compensation (total wages and stipend) that the CU preceptors get you wouldn't be talking about TC's funding of doc students except to say "sucks to be you" because you'd be getting yours. None of you would be leading this squawk charge. The only reason you attempt to drag in the broader issue of doc student funding is because you don't really have a legitimate claim to that extra compensation enjoyed by the CU preceptors. If you can make it seem part of the big injustice of poor funding, you can rally more support. I get it. Kudos on the political strategy, but it is thinly veiled and has no real chance of success because it lacks essential merit. Plus, people have crabbed about TC doc student funding for decades and it comes down to the simple fact that TC cannot give money that it does not have, and it cannot fund doc students well if they carry an MA to Doc ratio that is nearly 2-to-1; it must be much higher than that to have a chance to fund doc students. Actually, most of we current TC doc students wouldn't have been admitted if TC did the correct thing and reduced its Doc student numbers and increased its MA numbers.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

[Speaking only of the preceptor case, as that's what you choose to focus on]

You don't think the Deputy Provost's agreement, on the authority of the President (who also expressed 'dissatisfaction' with the current pay scenario for TAs AND preceptors), that the preceptor's case for additional funding was valid; and that the extra money was being actively sought out for precisely that end; renders the demand legitimate?You don't think, by paying the entire previous (2008-10) cohort (that's BOTH of them, not merely the one you mentioned elsewhere) of preceptors the full amount in line with GSAS, for the same job, that that legitimizes the claim (both that they deserve to paid the same amount, and that the money is in fact there - and always has been)?You don't think, that even after they'd announced that they didn't have money to pay TC students in line with their colleagues from across CU, the fact that they went ahead and gave (as stated in the article) tuition points to University Writing preceptors establishes prior legitimacy for the demands?Wow.And that's not to mention the other thrust of the article: that President Fuhrman wants to fund ALL doctoral students, particularly through attaching that funding to academic jobs* (the most obvious being TA & preceptorships, but maybe also adjuncting elsewhere).Still don't think anybody should be calling-out administration to back up their promises?  * And, yes, these promises do extend to ALL doctoral students, as per President Fuhrman's pledge. That pledge was made BEFORE the overwhelming success of the capital campaign, a significant percentage of which was - at least the Trustees were told this at a meeting I attended - earmarked for DOCTORAL STUDENT FUNDING. Despite administration's conspicuous failure to deliver on this, I don't see anybody OTHER than those in this article standing up for that commitment to be honored. So, despite your disdain, at the moment, those who've made their voices heard in this article are the ONLY ones championing the doc student cause. Instead of whining about them from the sideline, why don't you actually lend your support to your fellow students and demand the changes we've been promised?Like I say: Wow.

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

The Core Curriculum pay gap notwithstanding, it is certainly true that TAs at TC make between $800 and $1000 per course. I also know, from my experiences as a student, that TA positions  on the CU campus require less work than TA positions at TC but are compensated 3-5 times more. The rationale in Allegrante's email regarding the disparities in work between graduate and undergraduate TA positions is not based on any real data, but rather a justification for the very poor and disgraceful funding offered to doctoral students at TC for their work as TAs.

I also would like to echo the comment regarding exit surveys being the only forum where students express a voice at TC. My experience at TC leads me to agree with that assessment, and I also agree that one of the reasons that students don't speak up is the fear of vicious reprisal that is embedded in the culture of the institution.

The lack of visible leadership by Susan Fuhrman and her top level administrators and their lack of connection with the student body only serves to exacerbate this reprisal culture, as it feels as though there is no one to defend TC doctoral students against a faculty that occasionally has been known to be rather vindictive against those who speak out.

While I have a great deal of respect for some of the individual programs at TC, including my own, the administration is too removed from the student experience to truly understand and respond to these concerns in a productive manner and the systems, policies and procedures of the College are antiquated and unfair. That adjuncts still make $2500 per course when that is what they made a decade ago is unconscionable, as is the level of student dissatisfaction, discontent and mistreatment that is allowed to go on under the banner of one of the leading college's of education in the country. 

The real shame in all of this is that Susan Fuhrman was given another five years as President without any of the Board Members asking the student body what it thought of her leadership, or lack there of.

+1
-1
-1
Anonymous posted on

Susan Furhman's contract renewal will cost over four million dollars over five years and TA gets $800 per semester.  

+1
-2
-1
Anonymous posted on

This makes me physically ill.

+1
+2
-1
Anonymous posted on

All I can say is that I hope I get into NYU for my PhD, because there's no way in hell I'm applying to TC for it. I'm getting my masters, overpaying for what I got, at that, and getting the hell out. I got accepted into NYU for my master's as well but chose TC because of the Columbia relationship...joke's on me, I guess.

+1
-3
-1
Anonymous posted on

Good for the TC Preceptors for speaking up. A very courageous thing to do.

+1
-2
-1
Anonymous posted on

I suppose it is 'courageous' to speak up at some risk to oneself, but it is based on groundless claims of 'deserts'. The price for a preceptor is $12k/year. CU throws extra in for its own students and others are open to do so as well. TC chooses not to. There is no great mystery or conspiracy here. TC simply cannot be faulted for not paying CU preceptors to teach CU undergrads. TC is under no obligation to do so, and it makes no sense for them to do so. Thumper's right - if we agree with the TC preceptor's arguments, then TC should also give $6k to TC students who teach at Hunter, CUNY, Hofstra, or any other place, and that is just an absurd demand to make. Why would one organization pay the salary of the employees of another organization? I don't know what these TC preceptors are smoking, but keep it away from me. I can understand that they want more money, but it should come from CU, NOT TC.

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

Clearly you didn't read the article closely. Your facts/figures/logic are all way off. If TC wants to continue to take advantage of its own students, fine, it should end its affiliation with Columbia and Columbia GSAS (which actually grants the degrees for TC).

+1
+6
-1
Anonymous posted on

James, in what way are my facts and figures way off? Provide a counterargument rather than an unfounded criticism. And, for the sake of argument, let's suppose my figures are off. You still cannot explain to me why TC should pay CU's employees. Coke does not pay Pepsi's truck drivers to deliver Pepsi, even if those same truck drivers drink a lot of Coke. Simply because we are TC students doesn't obligate TC to pay us money in any way shape or form, especially for providing a service to another school. It certainly would be nice if TC provided more support for its doc students - I for one would welcome it. But other than for PR or for the sake of attracting more talented students to its programs, TC is under no obligation to do more than they find is necessary. Enrollments are not suffering, the funding is still crap, and we're all still here. If it is that big of a deal, then show your displeasure with the one thing TC will pay attention to - your tuition check. Give it to someone else.

+1
-2
-1
Anonymous posted on

What a ridiculous analogy. TC PhD's are GSAS students, and TC is part of the overall CU organization. The fact that they won't pay preceptors what they have paid them in the past (precpetors from 2008-10) is simply an indication of administrations attitude towards students.

They do have the money. They even like to boast about it on their own website...

+1
-2
-1
Anonymous posted on

I can't take the ignorance any more: what is ridiculous is that you think you are a CU student by virtue of having your degree rubber-stamped through GSAS. Let me make this clear: TC IS NOT A PART OF CU!!!

TC is a completely separate and independent financial and educational institution. It has its own board of trustees and its own president. SIPA is a part of CU. Mailman is a part of CU. The B-school is a part of CU. TC is not. We just happen to be next door and have managed to negotiate a number of different academic arrangements, the most significant of which is that the PhD degrees are granted through CU and each PhD dissertation committee must have a CU member on it. We are GSAS students on paper, but functionally and more importantly financially, we are not. Claim GSAS status all you want but it won't get you a dime of the CU endowment or the kind of funding CU doc students get. Wanna know why? BECAUSE YOU ARE NOT A CU DOC STUDENT!!

One TC preceptor (and maybe others) got extra funding out of TC from 2008-2010 because she whined and complained and harassed the administration so much. TC essentially, and quite wrongly, acceded to make her go away. It appears that some of the current preceptors think that was a winning course. The problem is, it isn't. They are not going to institute a policy they cannot afford to maintain, nor one that privileges 3-6 doc students over all the others. The preceptors who are complaining about this simply want more money and they are pretending to care about the overall status of TC doc student funding in order to mask their own selfish intentions and to get larger numbers on board to justify their claims. The fact remains that the two issues are and ought to be separate. Let the preceptors fight their own unreasonable fight, but don't get dragged into it under the guise of doc student funding; the latter one is the important issue and cannot be helped by attaching itself to preceptor claims.

+1
-2
-1
Anonymous posted on

Strange.

Only TC PhD students are eligible to teach the Core. EdD students are not. Why is that, you ask? Ah, yes - because having GSAS 'rubber stamp' your degree means that you ARE a CU doc student.

If that's not the case, then why, upon receiving your MPhil (a GSAS degree), do you then appear on the GSAS internal directory? And therein lies the trick. You're not technically a GSAS student UNTIL you have your MPhil (which you're meant to have by the time you teach the Core)...

As you point out, the problem does lie with the grey area caused by TC's half-in-half out status. As others have pointed out, both TC and CU exploit that grey area to their liking, and in different ways. TC doc students DO suffer because of TC's ability to remain financially separate, and CU is more than happy to let that happen (only so long as it meets the minimum level of its obligation - usually half the stated remuneration for a CU position).

And just so we're clear about how much TC students can be seen as GSAS students, even where funding is involved: The reason that preceptor (and all of the others in that cohort) was given the extra money was because TC was legally obliged to provide it. This was because that year they offered the Core position to their students AS GSAS STUDENTS (i.e they did not insist on their separate stipulations). That meant, when they tried to claim foul on the funding obligation, the legal technicalities of the job advert and offer established the validity of the obligation.

If you don't (want to) believe that, why don't you ask one of those preceptors? I know you know at least one of them well enough to have that conversation...

Looks like the only ignorance here is your own.

Lastly: odd that you should be so vitriolic in opposition to your fellow doc students - especially preceptors. After all, the article headline is about 'TC students & TAs,' and most of the people quoted in the article are neither preceptors themselves, nor talking about preceptor pay. 

I'll leave you to think on what your reasons are... 

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

I should clarify one thing: when TC advertised the Core position to its students in their capacity as GSAS students, by not stipulating a separate financial agreement, it was then obliged to follow the GSAS funding model. That model is something like: half the pay ($6000) provided by the Core, second half by the funding stream attached to the student through your GSAS department (usually via the stipend, which is, or can be, converted into a fellowship).

In the case of the 2008-10 preceptors, TC, by not stipulating a separate pay scale, under the terms of the advertised position, became their defacto GSAS department. Of course, as usual, they had no funding stream in place for the students, but were still obligated to pay the money to students who had been offered the job qua their position as GSAS doctoral students. which they went ahead and did...

don't start blaming TC doctoral students for being confused about this, KevJohn. the relationship is not as cut and dried as you, in your blinkered way, want to believe. in fact, it is deliberately unclear, as that way both TC and CU can pick and choose when to exploit it for their own ends, and when to slough off their responsibilities on to each other. which they do all the time, on account of the very real relationship between them.

+1
+2
-1
Anonymous posted on

We shall be in agreement that the gray area is a problem and ought to be cleared up.

+1
-1
-1
Anonymous posted on

You are very adept at making things up and making them sound good; you craft conspiratorial collages like nobody can. I cannot compete with you in the art of duplicity. I will only say that my focus on preceptors is the result of the fact that they have the least to complain about and I judge their claims to be unfounded. I leave the TA thing alone because that beef is more legitimate (though marginally so). Enjoy our time in self-made misery.

+1
-1
-1
Anonymous posted on

Who said anything about being 'miserable'? 'Angry,' is more appropriate: a condition that most, if not all doctoral students at TC share - and usually for the exact same reasons.

After all, you even seem to be angry yourself...

+1
+2
-1
Anonymous posted on

See my reply to Thumper, above, in response to your own misguided reading of the article. KevJohn.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

it's sorta sad when a community needs courage and pseudonyms to talk to each other about such important issues, but at least we are talking, that's a start - the real courage will be needed from the administrators. It won't be easy for them to find more money to pay teaching assistants a fair wage.  The values of our institution, values of education, teaching, social justice, demand that hardworking TC teaching assistants should be paid more than $50 a week (that's the in-house rate, the preceptors issue is another issue too).

+1
-1
-1
Anonymous posted on

If the administration wants to maintain that they're doing everything they can for their students, in particular their Doctoral students, then TC should release its detailed annual budget. We would love to see the actual money that comes in... and where it goes.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

Departments have a lot of freedom to spend their budgets as they wish. Oh, and I can guarantee you that your extra "course fees" are often use by professors to purchase their personal laptops, rather than materials for your course.

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

100 percent correct. I also worked for a program and was appalled at the lack of oversight into how program directors spend funds. The money is there, but professors would rather spend program funds on getting out of work and their own lifestyle, as well as guest lectures and visiting professor gigs for their friends (and networking allies). It's sad and its wrong.

+1
+2
-1
Anonymous posted on

If that's true how are the budgets determined?  My department secretary says we are always over the budget on TA pay already as it is.  But that's obviously because the budget is consistently set too low.   At what level of the College is there any oversight?  Who sets/approves department budgets?

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

One of the most fascinating things about TC is that it doesn't have a VP of Student Development or Student Affairs. In fact, the the institution did not have a student activities office until 2004-2005. If that does not say something about the culture here and the lack of attention to student needs, I do not know what does.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

The last thing we need is another high-paid administration position at TC.  One of the biggest problem is the top-heavy TC administrative salaries and the redundancy of some of that administrative staff if we were instead better integrated with CU.  

+1
-1
-1
Anonymous posted on

While I think that, experience and qualifications being equal, all preceptors should be paid equally regardless of the institution from which they hail, I also don't think it is TC's responsibility to pay CU's teachers for them. The article and the complaints by TC preceptors essentially confuses two separate issues. The first, equal pay for equal work, is elided by CU through the technicalities of CU's arrangements with its affiliates and its funding relationship with its own students; you don't have to like it, but they are not obligated to change it. The second is TC's limited funding of its doc students. Unfortunately these two issues are being mashed together, to no benefit for either.

If I was a student at CUNY and got a preceptor position, I could not expect CU to pay more than what they offer for the position. TC's affiliation with CU is only slightly closer than that of other consortium schools and is not a reasonable argument for getting the extra money. Sure, our PhDs are granted by the GSAS and say "Columbia" on them, but we effectively pay cash money for that when we graduate [the $5000 'defense' fee we pay goes directly to CU; call it a licensing fee for the Columbia diploma. The fee and the CU dissertation committee person constitute the extent of the CU/TC relationship - everything else is just courtesy due to proximity]. We have to stay clear about this. The position is tagged for $6k/semester. Period. Now, CU has the money and the inclination to fund its doc students in a particular way and at a particular level, so those that teach the core get a certain type of funding. That's that, and it has nothing to do with TC except that TC does not feel it should pay CU preceptors to teach for CU, which is reasonable.

RE: TC's limited funding of its own doc students, this is a separate issue from preceptor pay. TC doc students simply are not funded as well as CU doc students and that is a bad thing for both TC and TC students. If TC is going to be at all competitive in attracting and retaining bright and talented students, they will need to change that. If TC fully-funded its doc students, would these preceptors still feel slighted? Possibly. Perhaps their perception of the CU preceptors'  'compensation' is overriding what they know to be the 'wage' for the position, and nothing short of identical processes and dollar amounts will suffice. Regardless, CU is not obligated to fund TC's doc students any more than TC is obligated to pay CU's preceptors, so if Preceptors want more money they should take their claim to CU. If TC doc students (who also happen to be preceptors) want more funding, they take that claim to TC, but to combine them is counterproductive and silly.

+1
-2
-1
Anonymous posted on

You make a good argument, TedHamatNY, but I think you are the one to confuse the issue. At no point in the article do I see any TC preceptors suggesting that CU pick up the tab for TC students: in fact, I see pointed calls for TC to actually deliver on the litany of promises it has made down the years to address the dire funding situation of its doc students. Not least, as has been explained above, TC preceptors have been paid the same amount as GSAS preceptors in the past; Susan Fuhrman emphasizes how she is committed to securing funding for doctoral students who work in academic jobs; and Allegrante has specifically promised that part of the Finance Campaign funds should be used to pay preceptors on top of what they currently receive...

So, no, nobody's eliding anything. What people are doing is pointing to the insubstantial rhetoric and the inconsistencies coming directly from the mouths of TC administration, who in person recognize that precpetors, TAs, and doctoral students ought to be better funded.

And this idea that TC PhD's teaching the Core are doing CU's work, and shouldn't be paid by TC is a red herring. Allegrant and Fuhrman claim that they don't think this way. What's more, the College is more than happy to encourage doctoral students to apply for these positions. After all, the prestige of the position on a CV translates to better job prospects, and better job prospects for its students is something TC desperately wants to be able to claim.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

Roger should work for Fox News as he is adept at twisting meaning. I do not state that CU should pick up the tab: I suggest that if the TC preceptors see this as an equal pay for equal work issue, then they should take it up with CU, not with TC. Further, I make no bones that it is fine to ask TC to "address the dire funding situation of its doc students" as you put it, but that they should not do so in the context of preceptor pay as that makes no sense.

Unfortunately, Rog, it is you who are confused. My "eliding" comment is in regard to CU being able to fend off the issue of equal pay by categorizing (without duplicity) the extra pay for its own doc students as stipends attached to their doc student status and not as wages. It allows them to not have to make any amends and it technically proves that everyone is being paid the same for being a preceptor.

Recognizing that "precpetors, TAs, and doctoral students ought to be better funded" is absurdly and deliberately generalized, and to put your stock in anything so emptily general suggest that you deserved to be punked by the school. A fool and his money....anyway, I will flat out state, regardless of where Fuhrman or Allgreante stand, that TC in NO WAY should pay preceptors a dime simply because they are preceptors. It makes no sense at all to do so. It does, however, make sense to improve funding for its doc students.

The "red herring" you call out is no red herring but a logical argument. TC SHOULD NOT pay TC students who happen to be preceptors at CU simply because they are TC students who happen to be preceptors at CU. Effectively, that is what the TC preceptors and you seem to be saying. This makes these preceptors out to be a special class of doc student by suggesting that it makes perfect sense for TC to give them the extra funding. But why? Why should THEY get an extra $6k? Because they are preceptors? What about other TC doc students who are not fortunate enough to already be getting $6k and the experience of teaching in the core? Doing this will only increase the disparity in funding that already exists, and in terms of teaching and income options for TC students on any of the CU or TC campuses, only serves to make the 'rich' richer [and don't start whining about the fact that $6k does not make one rich; you should understand the point without getting that way].

Again, to say that TC should provide more funding for ALL of its doc students is reasonable, but that underscores my point that it should not be demanded in the context of preceptor compensation, which is where this article began and the whining of TC preceptors sits (I know three of them, and two of them complain about it all the time). Preceptor compensation is one thing. TC funding of doc students is another. Mixing them together only reduces the effectiveness of both arguments. They are separate issues and the preceptors have an interest in drawing them together; their own self-interest. Don't fall for it.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

As an alumni of Columbia as well as Columbia TC I was very disheartened to read this article. First, for those who want to disparage and dismiss TC I can only say that some of the most rigorous and rewarding coursework I have completed was at TC. There are some mediocre programs at TC, but there are also some of the best minds in higher education. They produce talented teachers, school deans, professors and researchers with each graduating class. I can also say that my degree from TC has carried much more professional weight, as it remains one of the top ranked graduate schools of education and the highest ranked graduate school of Columbia University. I have no doubt that the preceptors from TC are of the highest quality. BUT, in agreement with TedHamet, the problem is less a problem of Preceptor pay (though I think they should get whatever they can), and more a problem of funding priorities in general. It is sickening to learn that doctoral students are not supported at TC. As an alumni, this will affect donations - I for one will NOT be joining the 'Dewey Circle' this year. Columbia is also not blameless. They cannot play it both ways, claiming TC as their graduate school of education, hiring TC students to teach their classes, and advertising that GSAS grants TC degrees on the one hand, and then dismissing TC as a "separate institution" whenever there's conflict. I have always felt TC should come under the full umbrella of Columbia, or at least comply with ALL University standards (especially funding students), and if TC is not willing to do so, Columbia should hold them accountable.  

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

Here, here, ColumbiaAlumni.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

yes to ColumbiaAlumni - both Columbia and TC are benefiting from the ambiguities in their relationship and it is to the detriment of some students, particularly those that come in with the most idealistic expectations. 

+1
+2
-1
Anonymous posted on

Seconded.

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

I think that, like everything, graduate school is a meritocracy. It is very difficult to get through graduate school, especially as a woman in a city like new york, but I have been able to navigate TC through hard work and hard-won opportunities. I would suggest the others do as well, or go to school some place else.

+1
0
-1
Anonymous posted on

Very brave thing to say Cara. To be at an institution where the students, faculty, and administration are overwhelmingly female is very hard indeed. Keep speaking truth to power, gender clown...

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

You must be joking if you think TC is a meritocracy. They don't even report grades.

+1
+1
-1
Anonymous posted on

As both a graduate of TC and a former instructor I am very disappointed, but not surprised, by the content of this article. When I graduated from TC, we had a different Dean and the College may not have had an overabundance of funds, but Doctoral students felt supported. It has been to the dismay of many alums such as myself to watch TC become a top-heavy, corporate diploma mill where students come last. Good for the preceptors for speaking up. The program Mr. Macleod comes from has one of the worst (and unpublished) retention rates in the entire University, and it has nothing to do with lack of funds. The program director funds certain students very generously, and let's others wither on the vine.

+1
-2
-1
Anonymous posted on

In response to Cara:

While the ideal of a meritocracy is quite attractive, I think it is a bit optimistic to state that grad school, "like everything," is a meritocracy, especially at TC where the opacity of the funding decisions affords no evidence to suggest what, if any, system is in place, let alone a meritocracy.   "Hard work and hard won opportunities" are laudable, and I have no reason to doubt that you profited from both;  however, to dismiss privilege, favoritism, and luck as major factors in the funding 'process' strikes me as naive at best.  What would you say to your many colleagues who are un(der)funded and have no idea why?  "Work harder?" 

Aditionally, I'm not sure why being a woman handicaps you at a school
with a student body is 76% female
(http://www.tc.edu/tcnyc/?id=at..., unless
you believe there's some sort of affirmative action in place that
benefits men.

+1
0
-1