How Working at a Community College Is Like Working Retail

The content of this article by Julie Garza Withers at Ethnography.com will come as news to absolutely none of the thousands of contract faculty at Ontario Colleges.  They know what it’s like to have to reapply for their own jobs every fourteen weeks, what it’s like to be treated as disposable or fungible by their employer, and what it’s like to know that their continued employment depends upon keeping their heads down, for fear of negative attention.

The article is significant for many things, but Withers reminds us of the fundamental injustice of the two-tiered employment structure so common in academia: Having two people side-by-side, boasting the same qualifications and experience, and offering equal value to the school, yet working under radically different conditions, for radically different rewards.  She writes:

At Barnes and Noble a low-ranked bookseller with limited responsibilities got paid accordingly; at the community college however, all of us faculty share the same level of responsibilities, but 70% of us are paid a pittance in comparison to our tenured peers.

While this article has a American bent, it applies all-too-well to Ontario Colleges.  The real question that people need to ask is this:  Do we want a Ontario College students to be taught by people to have the same working conditions and job security as retail employees?  Does that model promote the attention and commitment that Ontario’s students deserve?  Is that model appropriate to the function that Colleges serve for Ontario’s society and economy?

 

e duobus duo?

Well, yesterday’s post was probably the first time in a few years that one interesting tension in the Ontario College Faculty bargaining unit was mentioned in print – namely, the fact that our bargaining unit includes both Full-Time faculty and Partial-Load (contract) faculty. If memory serves, that fusion of groups in the bargaining unit was originally the result of a court ruling in the early days of the Bob Rae government (on the grounds of gender equity, I believe), but I’ll be happy to be corrected by somebody who might have more accurate, first-hand recollections.

In the past, where any grumbling had occurred regarding any difference in the needs of the two categories, I remember that it typically came from some of the more politically-committed full-timers, who at times expressed dissatisfaction that Partial-Load faculty were less inclined to vote in favour of a strike (since striking isn’t necessarily to the benefit of one who has no guarantee of teaching 15 weeks in the future) .

But judging from the e-mails that I’ve occasionally fielded as a Local President, and the occasional hallway conversation, it appears that more of the discontent is now coming from Partial-Load faculty, who increasingly question whether the current composition of the union can ensure that the interests of contract faculty can be adequately represented if yoked to the interests of Full-Time faculty.

It’s an interesting question, both on the level of principle and practice. I hadn’t really planned to open this particular can of worms, but I think that it’s an issue that’s probably best worked out in a respectful, mediated forum like this one, so . . .

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We’ll devote today’s post to two opinions—both providing very different responses to yesterday’s reader contributions, which suggest that Seneca’s jettisoning of Partial-Load faculty positions is rooted in the new Collective Agreement and, more fundamentally, in the dynamics of bargaining that (according to at least one opinion yesterday) are rooted in the mixed FT/PL composition of the bargaining unit.

Our first contributor argues that the selfishness of Full-Time faculty ensures that contract faculty will be treated as . . . fungible.

You nail the elephant in the room munchin’ up the munch. I’m F/T but would be happy with 60K a year if EVERYONE made 60K, janitors, deans, P/T and F/T. Fat chance. Too many faculty think they get their salary because they are “special”–many feel hard done by if they don’t get a raise. When a raise is dangled, they grab it, to hell with other issues. The F/T bourgoisie’s interest ain’t that of the P/T precariat. But the incremental acceptance of crappier CA’s will get us all. The writing is on the digital wall: Pearson is applying to be a degree granting institution (surprise); we have given up the cap on sections… it’s going to be e-learning efficiencies innovating our jobs away. If it happens slowly, it’ll stay the selfish status quo. If done too quickly, some might fight back. We’re too busy now buying mutual funds, thinking we have earned and deserve the sunshine. Not much solidarity in that.

Speaking personally, I don’t think that I get my salary because I’m “special”; I think I get it because I’m a qualified expert and award-winning teacher who spent over 10 years as a full-time postsecondary student, accumulating student debt and opportunity costs, in order to obtain a credential that my current position requires. And I can’t speak much to mutual fund investments, seeing as my pre-tax annual salary is currently one-tenth of the average price of a detached house in the city in which I work.

I guess my question would be: Whose interests are best served by the notion of a “zero sum” economy – by the notion that gains to Full-Time faculty must necessarily come at the cost of contract faculty? I’m accustomed to that sort of rhetoric from politicians preaching austerity or “fiscal responsibility”; I’m less accustomed to it from people who bemoan a lack of solidarity.

Our second letter offers a different opinion, identifying Seneca’s decimation of Partial-Load positions as originating less in a Collective Agreement that was voted on by the membership, and more in legislation that was not.

It is depressing to read this. Especially when one considers that even if *all* of the union’s demands going into bargaining had been accepted, as the last three readers hint at, that would not have completely stopped Seneca management from doing what they are doing.

It is all thanks to the highly flawed Colleges Collective Bargaining Act (CCBA) 2008. All of the tools are in the hands of management. Save for one tool. And that’s the ability to organize part-time and sessional faculty. It is not a perfect tool. It is not perfect because even if you were to “blow up” the union and start with a clean sheet of paper as the last reader suggests, you’d still have two separate and distinct bargaining units thanks to the CCBA. Save for a political miracle, I can’t see the CCBA being fixed anytime soon.

That leads to the only possible way out of this funk: have both faculty bargaining units represented by a union and working closely together.

As I said, it’s the only tool we have. It’s amazing what you can do with just one tool though. If you were to take away all of my tools and leave me with just a hammer, it is still a hammer. The old adage may be true that if all you have is a hammer, everything begins to look like a nail! But that’s OK, you can still build plenty of things with just a hammer and nails.

It’s about time we got that hammer.

So, this leaves us with a couple of questions:  Should we understand gains to Full-Time faculty as coming at the expense (or elimination) of Partial-Load faculty?  Just how inexpensive would Partial-Load faculty need to be, in order to convince Seneca management not to replace them with non-Unionized Part-Time faculty?  And who benefits by the fact that such are the questions that we are asking in Ontario, in 2014?

As ever, feel free to respond either to ontariocollegeprof@yahoo.com.

Reader’s Reactions to Stifled Speech at Seneca

So, I’ve had the pleasure of receiving several responses to yesterday’s post about my curious challenges in communicating with students at my college.  I’ll devote today’s post to them.

Let me start by saying that I don’t agree with all the sentiments below — some I disagree with rather strenuously, but since the topic of the day would concern free speech, I’m not in the mood to play censor. Perhaps events in upcoming weeks (or your own responses) might let me revisit some of these ideas, and offer alternative perspectives.

A union Local officer in a Southeast Ontario college wrote:

I read your blog on twitter this morning and I thought I was reading something from another planet!  I can’t believe how your local has been treated.

Apparently the story made the rounds, because another prof from the same college wrote, simply:

Sounds like fascism.

Another professor from the same region discerned a guilty conscience in Seneca management’s handling of its elimination of hundreds of Partial-Load positions:

You can see that it is unethical because it does not pass the “after morning test”. If the head of Seneca college thinks this new model is such a breakthrough in education then why is he not shouting it from the roof tops, asking a city newspaper to extol the virtues of the new model? If the idea is so great it could stand on its own merits. It also fails another test – “in the other guy’s/gal’s shoes” – if the government was to come in and cut the President’s wage in half would he still think its such a great idea and would best serve education for students. One example of poorer education is already happening. As wages are cut teachers are motivated to spend less time giving valuable, quality feedback and instead race through the marking to get done so they can go and work their second job. I would like to know how much money was spent on the people and the vehicle that was following you around all day.

Three other readers connected Seneca management’s behaviour to our new Collective Agreement.

The first — from the GTA — presents the point with an impressive punctuation-to-word ratio:

My question is WHY did 61% vote in favour!!!!  Something stinks!!!!

The second, from Southwest Ontario, sets things out in stark terms:

Welcome to tomorrow, faculty who voted to accept a collective agreement that suspended the right to grieve the article pertaining to hiring full time positions. And those that DIDN’T vote, may they be de-skilled by e-learning, canned, and reduced to security jobs policing the few (finally active) union members. Sigh. Feeling apocalyptic this morning. But thank you for your work and communicatin’….

And if the prospect of future employment as security guards wasn’t dismal enough, another contributor introduces a theory that the interests of full-time and partial-load faculty are incompatible:

Metaphorically speaking (in case security is monitoring this), rage is what I feel inside. An ugly beast, ready to tear into whatever lay before me, ceasing only when the opposition has choked on its last gasping breath. And it sickens me … but he’s who takes care of me when reason and logic fail.

Thankfully, however, my faith in reason is strong.

The problem you have laid out if two-fold … and the biggest “fold” is neglected to be analyzed. It is the union that binds its contract members in impotence.

As I see it, as long as management keeps “the haves” (the full timers) happy, and as long as these voting members occupy a significant portion if not the majority of the contract votes (partly due to the inopportune times PL Faculty are asked to vote), the PL community of “have-nots” will never have a voice.

Furthermore, if management can arbitrarily choose who is represented by the union through the distribution of too few of too many hours, then how can the union effectively represent our needs? They can’t … and there is not a damn thing they can do about it (legally) … especially given that we PLers will never have enough voting clout to vote down a contract that does not rectify this oversight.

I strongly believe we need to push a vote of no-confidence in the ability of our union to represent us, and then reform in a manner which will include all manner of non-permanent employees. We could then push as a solid front, independent of the complacent, over-fed bourgeoisie, and have our own needs met.

Or better yet … rather than create more opposition through having to fight against the FTers and management … we could all just agree that our capitalistic society is a mistake. We could admit that the environment of limitless economic growth that cultivated bulging six-figure salaries does not exist, and we could all agree to accept sliding scale pay cuts for any future FT hires. Perhaps have the starting range enter at $45K/yr and the top end at $75K/yr. This way we could gradually weed out the mistakes of those who came before us, create a more sustainable system of compensation, and free up budget room so that management has incentive to treat non-permanent faculty better.

If this upsets anyone … don’t worry too much. My vote does not even count. I have 14 teaching hours this semester.

 

Picket, and it Won’t Ever Heal…

So, last Wednesday I had the pleasure of trying to provide information to students at Seneca College’s campus on York University.  I encourage you to catch the account from members of CUPE 3903 – here’s my own take.

Necessary background: Seneca College senior management is implementing a “staffing model” change that would see up to hundreds of unionized “partial-load” contract faculty positions converted into non-Unionized “part-time” or “sessional” contract faculty positions. For those contract faculty, it means that they’ll head home over Christmas break in December, knowing that if they wish to return to teaching at Seneca in January, they can do so only on the condition that they accept fewer hours, less job security, a lower hourly wage, no union representation, and (in an especially remarkable labour relations coup) the evaporation of all the sick days that they had accumulated over their years of service to Seneca College.

This is undoubtedly best understood as an example of Seneca President David Agnew’s stated “great respect for the vital work” that contract faculty do.

For Seneca College students, this represents a clear threat to the quality of their educational experience. Their part-time faculty would have fewer hours, and would therefore need to work additional jobs to make ends meet. Those other jobs would likely mean that these profs would likely be less available on campus before or after class, and may have less time to respond to student e-mails. Moreover, their reduced classes would likely mean that they would be on campus for fewer days out of the week.

So, after having had a chance to communicate this to my members and the media, it was certainly time for us to let the students know what was happening to the staffing of their own classes, come January.

So . . . talk to students on campus, right? Simple enough?

Not quite.

Seneca management denied the Union’s request to provide information in “cafeterias and other non-teaching areas of the campuses where students congregate, for the purpose of informing students and other members of the Seneca community of imminent staffing changes at Seneca, and to solicit opinions of such”. After all, such revolutionary activities as handing out leaflets in a cafeteria could, in the words of management, “disrupt students as well as the College’s operations”.

I am not making this up.

So, given this refusal, the task was to distribute information on public property near the campuses. This was particularly interesting at York University, where Seneca has set up shop in two buildings that are located inside York University’s Keele campus.

What follows is a rough chronology of the day’s events. The events are all true; the times given may be imprecise:

8:00: The assembled union members arrived (accompanied by support from OPSEU Local 613 and CUPE 3903). We were immediately monitored closely by a security guard dressed in black, who insisted that we “stay off Seneca property”. Somewhat awkwardly, he demonstrated an ignorance of precisely where Seneca property began and ended in the outdoors of a York University campus. To “clarify” the matter, he wandered off on occasion, speaking on a radio to his “manager”, and failed to return with concrete information.

8:10: It didn’t take long for us to identify the black SUV with tinted windows, in the parking lot across the street. It had a videocamera set up on the dash, and proceeded to videotape us throughout the entire day. According to eyewitness reports, the security guard inside the SUV was wearing sunglasses, which is perfectly normal behavior for somebody sitting in a vehicle with tinted windows on a cloudy day. The videotaping, of course, would have absolutely nothing to do with any attempt on management’s part to intimidate contract faculty from demonstrating, for fear of losing future employment.

9:30: An executive member of a student group came outside to talk with us, offering to take some of our leaflets, to distribute to students.

10:30: The same student group executive member returned outside, saying that he had heard that a new Seneca College policy had been created that day, banning student groups from distributing flyers. Such ridiculous rumours are, of course, perfectly normal in institutions of higher learning.

11:45: I went inside the campus to get some tea, and ended up in conversation with two colleagues who stopped me in the hallway, asking how the campaign is going. When I showed them copies of the flyers that I’d been distributing to students, I was immediately apprehended by a new security guard, who had been following me. When the security guard told me that I was forbidden from distributing materials to students on campus, I pointed out that I was distributing materials to my constituent members, not students.  The security guard then announced that he had to follow me until I left the building, which is perfectly normal behavior for an school administration that is not at all paranoid.

1:45: Again outside handing leaflets to students, one student declined a leaflet, mentioning that she had heard that it was “illegal” for students to carry Union flyers into campus buildings. It is, after all, perfectly normal for students of a postsecondary institution to be afraid of being arrested for carrying a leaflet on school property.

Now, I’m quite confident that the silly rumours about student groups not being able to communicate with other students, or about students facing prosecution for carrying or distributing union literature about their own learning conditions are just that: silly rumours.

But I am struck how an administration’s effort to crack down on free speech on campus – whether through regulation, surveillance, or intimidation – ends up leading immediately and almost inevitably to such rumours. The day started with union members being told that they couldn’t hand leaflets on school property; it ended with at least one student believing that she could be punished for holding the wrong piece of paper on campus.

And I do wonder about the effects of that on her education. Particularly on how she understands her relationship to her school differently than she did the day before.

And I wonder how the day’s events square with Seneca College’s educational mission – particularly the aspects of the Academic Plan that assert the school’s mission of teaching students such core literacies as “communication”, “information literacy”, “creative thinking”, “social responsibility”, “inquiry and analysis”, and “critical thinking”.

And at the end of that day—a day of being videotaped and followed—I came to some conclusions, not about Seneca College but about the nature of authoritarian governance.  I concluded that authoritarianism is borne not of strength but of insecurity. And I concluded that insecurity is the inevitable attitude for rulers who aspire to irresponsible power: those who wish to avoid the ethical obligation to respond to criticism. Such rulers, I assume, must find themselves unwilling or unable to candidly defend their choices to those they affect, and therefore fear those choices being scrutinized and discussed in the light of day, in the spirit of “social responsibility”, “inquiry and analysis”, and “critical thinking”.

And I wonder whether that fear would be perfectly normal, if they themselves believed that their actions were morally defensible?

Academic Freedom in Ontario’s Colleges (Part Two)

One of the curious details of this round of negotiations is the fact that it’s being carried on concurrently with the contract negotiations for Ontario’s high school teachers.  And in those negotiations, I think we can sum up the Ontario government’s current negotiating position as “Accept our offer, or we’ll criminalize your rejection of it”.

Certainly one detail that’s buoying the government’s position in its negotiations with OSSTF (and, presumably, college faculty) is the fact that the Catholic secondary school teachers’ union (OECTA) and the French secondary school teachers (AEFO) recently agreed to two-year deals that saw wages on the salary grid frozen, and a 1.5% salary cut in the form of three unpaid days off.

Worth noting, though (and almost completely unreported by the media, which focuses almost entirely on easily-digestible financial issues), is the fact that those two unions did manage to make some tangible non-monetary gains in the areas of Academic Freedom and Job Security — two areas that were ranked as very high priorities at the College Unions’ Contract demand-setting meeting back in April.

With job security, if I understand correctly, OECTA’s new contract specifies that new full-time hires must come from the pool of experienced contract teachers.  As for Academic Freedom, the new contract gives the teachers control over testing in their classrooms — a legal backgrounder describes the contract as granting “autonomy for teachers in applying diagnostic assessment“.

Are these significant gains?  Well, let’s note that the Catholic school boards seem to think so — two of the boards have refused to consent to the deals struck by the province, and are trying to overturn those deals, on the (seemingly valid, in my opinion) grounds that the school boards — not the province — are the teachers’ employers.  More specifically, they say that the province’s deal “strips the boards of important hiring and managerial rights”.

So, to recap, the province has currently offered the high school teachers a contract that includes salary grid freezes, offset with gains in academic freedom (in the from of testing), and job security (in the form of binding full-time hiring provisions).

And, to recap, the province has offered the College professors a contract that includes salary grid freezes, with no  gains in academic freedom (since faculty would continue to have no power over testing) and or in job security (since the security language proposed by the College management’s bargaining team would not concern the staffing of new full-time positions, and would also be easily circumvented by managers).

And so, amazingly enough, if the province got its way with its proposed contracts for both secondary school teachers and college faculty, we would end up with a situation where Elementary and High school teachers would actually have more academic freedom than College faculty, as specified in their Collective Agreements.

Which returns me to a theme that I had discussed before — how should we understand Academic Freedom in Ontario’s Colleges — and why faculty and students both need it.  I spoke on this issue at an OPSEU-sponsored symposium in June, and I’m posting Part Two of  my remarks below.  You can find Part One of my remarks (posted earlier) here, and I’ll also encourage you to check out Marcus Harvey’s keynote speech on Youtube.  I also note an 2009 FAQ backgrounder on Academic Freedom from OPSEU here: The proposed contract language is out of date (from the last round of bargaining), but the first two pages offer some useful context and explanations.

My thoughts below.  As ever, feel free to respond at ontariocollegeprof@yahoo.com

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Part Two: The Fallacies that Underpin Our Current Lack of Academic Freedom

Currently, without academic freedom for college faculty, the model of educational decision-making power at Ontario colleges rests upon a false dichotomy: The notion that the content of education is divorced from its modes of delivery. 

To clarify, one of the preconditions of colleges’ grant degrees was the stipulation that 50% of the students’ classes be taught by faculty with terminal degrees in the field.  Clearly, PEQAB believed that it was essential (or at least 50% essential) to have trained, experienced experts deliver the curriculum to the students. At the same time, however, PEQAB did not feel that it was essential to have such experts shape the curriculum of those classes, or the class’ learning outcomes, textbooks, mode of course delivery, length of classes, or modes of evaluation.

The content of education was understood – or misunderstood – as independent of and unaffected by its form. And as a consequence, the vast majority of college professors currently have no official power or shared power to shape any of those decisions, and we can only appeal those decisions according to workload standards, not academic ones. 

The logic here resembles that of the shop floor, by which professors are understood as the manual labourers conducting a narrowly-circumscribed set of tasks, with no say in how the machinery is designed, nor the purposes it serves.

The false distinction between the form and content of a class upholds a second contradiction that shapes management-faculty relations: the college management’s belief that the same professors who allegedly possess the expertise and qualification to determine how material is taught are also simultaneously understood to lack sufficient ability or judgement to have the power to decide what material is taught.

One particular example of this false distinction between a class’ structure and its content concerns the determination of how students are evaluated in their classes. Currently, managers hold the exclusive power to determine, for example, whether students are evaluated using essays or using multiple-choice tests. While professors are understood to have the necessary expertise to decide how to deliver content in the classroom, the current model understands them as unfit to decide how best to appropriately evaluate the quality of the students’ learning and performance, and their role in the decision-making process is therefore merely a consultative one.

I chose this particular example because it led to a specific moment in the last round of bargaining that was, for me, particularly enlightening about the college management’s view of faculty. One of the union’s proposals was to have modes of evaluation determined collectively by the faculty teaching each course, with managers invited to decide if 75% of the faculty weren’t able to agree upon how the students in the course should be evaluated.

On CBC’s MetroMorning I heard a representative of the college management claim that that particular proposal would prove wildly expensive to the colleges. His reasoning would be that all faculty in all courses, in an effort to work less, would choose to give written assignments to their students (and thereby teach fewer students), regardless of whether, say, essays were appropriate to the subject matter, or an effective way to evaluate students’ understanding of it.

I’m not sure which confused me more – the idea that the people who are described in the colleges’ marketing material as being uniquely qualified to responsibly teach college courses are somehow unable to be trusted to select the best method of evaluating those students, or the misguided notion that making students write essays instead of multiple-choice tests somehow leads to less work for the professor.

But again, denying professors the academic freedom to effectively impact decisions about how to evaluate students rests upon a hard and fast distinction between what is taught and how it is evaluated – a distinction that is false (and probably nowhere less so than in the field of writing) and one that in my opinion finds no support in any educational research that has been performed since the 1970s.

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Follow-up: Apparently my comments at the beginning of the post (on the secondary and elementary school negotiations) covered ground that was already clearly discussed last week on the Union’s negotiations website, www.collegefaculty.org.  That posting, moreover, has the additional benefit of discussing salary negotiations among University faculty and secondary school teachers.  I recommend that you check it out.

Strike Authorization Vote Called (and One More Nursing Facilitator Reaction)

Welcome back, sports fans! 

Well, judging from the increased number of page-views over the last couple of days, I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that you’ve already heard that the Union’s bargaining team has requested that the OLRB conduct a Strike Authorization Vote among the Union membership.

No word yet on when that vote might be conducted (although it was requested for Sept. 6).  But you can get all the details on the bargaining team’s official announcement bulletin (which features an impressively fulsome description of the conciliation process, to boot). 

That bulletin also includes a breakdown of some of the major issues at stake in negotiations, which I’ll try to look at in some detail (and/or glibness), in future posts.

Today, though, I wanted to wrap-up some thoughts on what I believe to be the most important issue currently on the bargaining table — the introduction of a new “Clinical Facilitator” job category, that would radically restructure the instruction in programs that feature on-site, clinical, or practicum instruction.  It would take a significant amount of teaching away from professors, and assign it to facilitators who lack job security, overtime, benefits, or an hourly rate that compares to faculty wages.

I communicated my initial impressions of the job category here and here, so instead, I’ll turn the attention to an e-mail that I received from a Nursing professor in a Southwest Ontario college: 

I read this news of a proposed Nursing Clinical Facilitator with great trepidation and angst. It seems as if we have seen this before. I think the last time they were called “technicians”. Some colleges tried this in the early 00′s but quickly found this ineffective and problematic.

I agree with the comments that a very large disconnect will occur between classroom and theory in nursing. In addition, the College of Nurses of Ontario has already discussed the possibility of converting those registered nurses who do not “practice” nursing any longer into a special category that will strip these nurses of their privilege to return to clinical practice without a refresher program. This fact alone has some nurse educators, like myself, questioning whether they will remain in teaching if this occurs. I value my clinical expertise too much to throw it away to teach exclusively in a classroom. Clinical is what I enjoy, and I can make the connections between theory and practice for my students.

Clinical teaching is exhausting and carries a very high level of responsibility: Not only do you have the eight students to monitor, but also the eight to sixteen patients that the students are assigned to provide care for. In addition,before clinical, you have to spend 3 to 6 hours of researching the patients’ condition, then there is the double-checking of skills, medications and documentation before you leave the clinical area. Once you get home, there are anecdotal notes to write on each student’s progress, and the marking of clinical worksheets and assignments.

If the students do an 8 hour shift. You are there early and late, making it a 9-10 hour day for the teacher. In addition, the marking etc. is another 8-10 hours per week in a degree program. No one in their right mind would do all that for an hourly rate that is less than what they make at the hospital, where there is no preparation or homework to take care of, outside the hours of your shift.

The simple fact of the matter is that when people do not feel adequately compensated for their work, they put less effort into it. This will result in a significant decrease in the quality of clinical experience that nursing students receive. This translates into less competent nurses looking after you and your loved ones. Do you really want this for your health care system?

I’m struck by one of the points that this contributor started off with — it seems to be one that I hear over and over again, to do with the problems that come when the colleges try to disconnect of theory and practice.  In short, the introduction of Facilitator positions would almost enshrine that disconnect, since a reduced number of professors would be left to teaching “theory” in the classrooms, while a substantial number of (worse paid) facilitators would be teaching the “practice”, on site.

Now, I tend to focus on practical arguments over principled ones, so my first reaction to this division of labour was that it would probably have a negative impact on students, who currently benefit from the fact that the people who teach them in the classroom are often the same people who supervise them, on-site.  (In fact, I’ve heard both faculty and Chairs of programs with on-site practicums make these very claims.)

And yes, I think that it would disrupt the educational process to disjoin theory and practice in the way that the College management’s bargaining team proposes to do.  But the more I think about it, the more I’m pushed away from the simple question of practical effectiveness, and towards a more abstract philosophical principle:

Ontario Colleges pride themselves on providing practical education.  The vast majority of College programs are designed precisely to combine theory and practice. The effort to divorce the two by creating two separate job categories to administer the instruction of each represents a disturbing abnegation of the very mandate of Ontario College education.

As I’ve said before — and as this correspondent reiterates — our work is important because the work of our graduates is important.  Nursing faculty are important because nurses are important.  And nurses are important because patients are important

And I think that neither professors nor students nor patients nor colleges are well-served by the effort to blithely remove professors from the clinical setting.  I don’t think that there’s a Teaching hospital on earth that would take such steps where the instruction of future doctors were concerned.  And I think that the onus is on the Colleges — and perhaps the province — to provide an educational and professional justification for what must be understood as a radical change in the instruction of future nurses.