I was enjoying the prattle of the still sort-of anonymous Law Professor who posts at insidethelawschoolscam.blogspot.com/. He’s been named by others but I’ll keep up the facade. He pointed out that he gathered the most hate mail for suggesting that being a law professor isn’t that hard and many of his comrades take advantage of it.
Hoo boy. He’s said that everyone who’s had the energy to write is a hard worker and ready to proclaim it. I was tempted to suggest that he was sort of wrong about this point because for all of academia’s flaws, it manages to hire workaholics who churn out papers and ideas left and right. If I think about all of the work that my colleagues do, I’m sure that the taxpayer is getting a good deal.
But the LawProf pointed something out: It doesn’t matter if a professor works 80 hours a week if only 10 hours are devoted to the students. The other 70 hours could be spent in a spa getting a massage or in the library generating yet another paper that people won’t read. From the students’ perspective, there’s little difference between the lazy professor who spends just 10 hours with the students and the workaholic who spends the rest of the day and night writing up another conference paper.
And the students are largely paying for much of this. I know, I know that grants help with some, but there’s a huge amount of the tuition dollars that are diverted to pay for research and other stuff.
This is why I was so disappointed by the collection of essays at the NYT analyzing Rick Perry’s plan to build a new University of Texas that charges only $10k for all four years put together. Most of them were sentimental fools who seemed to think that the answer was just more public funding. (And who is this sugar daddy? Does it matter whether we call the payment “tuition” or “taxes”? )
The only solution is to cut back dramatically on the research subsidy from the students. Until this happens, there’s no chance of getting to $10k.