Bipartisan bill proposes including PT faculty reporting requirements

A bipartisan bill proposes including part-time faculty reporting requirements in the Higher Ed Authorization Act.

HB 4983, a bipartisan bill called the “Strengthening Transparency in Higher Education Act,” was approved by the House of Representatives on July 23, 2014.  It now moves to the Senate. The bill amends the Higher Education Authorization act to require the establishment of the so-called “College Dashboard,” which the Obama Administration proposed last year as a mechanism for providing the public with easily accessible information including about college costs and completion rates.

After consulting with advocates for contingent faculty including NFM, the bill’s authors have included two specific reporting requirements with respect to part-time faculty:  the ratio of the number of course sections taught by part-time instructors to the number of courses, disaggregated by undergraduate vs. graduate course, taught by full-time faculty; and the mean and median years of employment for part-time instructors.

NFM had specifically recommended both to Congressional staff and to the Department of Education that colleges also be required to report contingent faculty compensation and other relevant working conditions, but those requirements were not included at this time.

The bill does, however, require that the College Dashboard be tested ” with appropriate persons, including current and prospective college students, family members of such students, institutions of higher education, and experts” to ensure that it is “usable and easily understandable and provides useful and relevant information to students and families.”

In addition, the bill requires that the Department of Education consult with “each appropriate head of a department or agency of the Federal Government” to make sure that information related to higher education published by any other department or agency is “consistent” with that published on the College Dashboard.

These two additional requirements should give advocates some hope. Contingent faculty have recently stepped up their efforts to demand better data collection and accountability around contingent faculty and their working conditions at several federal departments and agencies including the IRS, the Department of Labor, and the Department of Education.

HB4983, which is expected to pass, will support those efforts.  It can be invoked as further justification for accurate data collection and will provide a mechanism through which to require that correct and more comprehensive data  about contingent faculty working conditions, and their effects on higher education, be disseminated to the public.

Read more:

Chronicle of Higher Education. Adjuncts Welcome Congress’s New Interest in Their Working Conditions. July 30, 2014.

Chronicle of Higher EducationHouse Approves 2 Bills Toward Renewal of Higher Education Act. July 24, 2014.

Chronicle of Higher Education. In Passing 3 Bills, House Panel Takes First Step to Renew Higher Education Act. July 10, 2014.

Chronicle of Higher Education. 5 Key Areas of the Senate Democrats’ Bill to Renew the Higher Education Act. June 26, 2014.

Chronicle of Higher EducationHouse and Senate Offer Different Visions for Renewal of Higher Education Act. June 25, 2014.

 

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