Recently Gov. Janet Mills proposed a minimum salary of $40,000 for teachers in Maine. Though I applaud the proposal, Mainers need to know that full-time adjunct professors within the community college system and the university system earn less than that. In short, adjunct professors earn approximately $2,100-$2,300 per course with the community college system and between $2,900 and $3,900 per course with the University of Maine system.

When one factors how full-time employment is equal to eight courses per academic year, the average full-time, adjunct professor earns only $17,000 to $26,000 per year. Additionally, they are not eligible for health benefits. In sum, they earn between $15-$18 an hour — the average wage of custodians at both institutions.

In Maine, then, higher education is coming at the cost of adjunct professors working for poverty wages. As I playfully noted to a colleague, this might be termed ‘crimes against humanities.’ Such a modest wage, too, leads to a high turnover rate, so that departments find it difficult to maintain consistent curriculums. There is also an issue of equal pay for equal work, in that full-time professors are paid significantly more to teach the same courses.

Augusta needs to know that adjuncts already earn less than the lowest paid elementary school teachers. Finally, as professionals charged with training the next generation of accountants, teachers, nurses, etc., adjuncts are job creators and are as vital to the economy as entrepreneurs. The governor’s proposal should be expanded to include adjunct professors.

Dennis Camire, West Paris