My friend, Jilly Dybka, found this depressing article online: Disappearing Jobs. She posted a link on her Poetry Hut blog. I'm re-posting it here, because I think it's really important information, particularly for new graduates with terminal degrees in English and Creative Writing especially.
"The number of job postings in the MLA’s Job Information List will be down 21 percent in 2008-9, the steepest annual decline in its 34-year history. For English language and literature, the drop will be 22.2 percent and for foreign languages, 19.6 percent."
It gets worse. Ever since I taught at California State University, Long Beach back in the early 1990s, I've been trumpeting my assertion (now fact, IMO) that English departments (if not all Liberals Arts departments) would be retiring tenured professors and would NOT be replacing them with tenure track graduates, opting instead for cheaper adjunct faculty. Having been adjunct at a couple of institutions, I know -- believe me -- how little one gets paid for that role. Can we say below the poverty line??? I understand, on one hand, how states and thus universities are having to tighten their belts, so to speak, but it's been this way for 15-20 years now and it's just getting worse! I think, frankly, using this recession as an excuse to go virtually all adjunct in new hires is a cop out and a damn bad one too! As I said, back in the prosperous '90s, departments were doing the same thing, so it's nothing new. I recognized this as I started on my third degree some years ago. Foolishly, I went ahead and finished that degree, with no realistic intention or opportunity regarding teaching in a tenure track position. And while I did receive scholarships and teaching associate positions, etc., I owe a solid 65K in student loans for 13 years of higher education. Frankly, it makes me ill.
I didn't know when the MLA would come out with this news, but it does not surprise me in the least. And I think it's merely a precursor of things to come. At some point, English classes across the country will be taught largely by underpaid, bitter, no-benefits adjuncts, many of whom might not represent the best possible education for their students. (But that's another topic, actually....) My undergraduate alma mater, the University of Tennessee, is currently facing a reported $100 MILLION budget shortfall and is having to destroy the school, almost literally. Entire departments are facing obliteration. That makes me ill too. At some point, it could conceivably lose its accreditation and what then? That's obviously a worst case scenario, but its plausibility frightens me, and it should you too.
English, creative writing, and foreign language jobs are disappearing, at least tenure track jobs. Will things ever turn around? I think not. What do you think?
Causes Scott Holstad Supports
PEN, The Authors Guild, Sierra Club