The Indianapolis Resolution
Executive summary / goals:
The authors & co-signers of this document wish our professional organizations, institutions, and departments / programs in Composition, Rhetoric, Writing and English to work towards reducing the extent to which departments and the field writ large use and exploit contingency to solve problems that primarily benefit the more secure members of those units. Further, while we acknowledge that some instructors want the option of contingent positions, institutions should work towards a default state in which everyone who enters the profession is treated like a professional. To achieve those ends, we endorse reforms that may better ensure institutional compliance with fair labor practices; that incorporate labor study into graduate pedagogy and professional development; and that support research into the impact of labor practices on the teaching and learning of writing.
Below is the collaboratively conceived and composed Indianapolis Resolution. Writers include writing center directors, WPAs, contingent faculty, tenure-track faculty, tenured faculty, and graduate assistants.
We invite members of the Composition/ Rhetoric/ Writing community to add their names below. After accumulating signatures, we will formally share the document with our professional organizations.
A bit of background:
At a pre-conference workshop sponsored by the Labor Caucus of the Conference on College Composition & Communication (CCCC) in Indianapolis in March 2014, the group gathered found themselves discussing the Wyoming Resolution. We began reimagining that foundational document for our 21st century contexts. Excited by this prospect, we decided to dedicate the second-half of the workshop to actual drafting, using social media to invite other conference attendees to join us. The Indianapolis Resolution was born.
In the year that followed, those interested attendees from the 2014 CCCCs session continued to work collaboratively online to draft and revise the document. The Labor Caucus then held an open discussion of the revisions as its sponsored panel at CCCC 2015, where we received further feedback and continued to revise.
We acknowledge that no document is perfect, yet we ask you to endorse it if you support its spirit and most of its provisions. Thank you.
(Updated May 30, 2015)
WHEREAS, most post-secondary teachers with primary responsibility for teaching writing are contingent, as are increasing numbers of Writing Program Administrators and Writing Center directors;
WHEREAS, a caste system has emerged in the discipline in which the salaries and working conditions of most post-secondary teachers with primary responsibility for teaching writing remain (and have remained so since the Wyoming Resolution in 1987) fundamentally unfair as judged by any reasonable professional standards (e.g., unfair in excessive teaching loads; unreasonably large class sizes; salary inequities; lack of benefits and professional status; barriers to professional status; and barriers to professional advancement);
WHEREAS, the November 2013 revision of the Statement of Principles and Standards for the Post-Secondary Teaching of Writing failed to address labor substantively, removing all specific recommendations for class size and workload, and locating ambiguous references to working conditions at the end of the statement; and while we acknowledge that the March 2015 revision includes specific workload recommendations but does not change working conditions’ location on the Statement’s priority list;
WHEREAS the disciplinary status of composition/rhetoric/writing studies has solidified since 1987, resulting in the proliferation of independent writing programs, graduate programs, departments, and all the accoutrements of disciplinarity including journals, conferences, and CIP Codes;
WHEREAS a long history of position statements and exhortations from CCCC, WPA, MLA, ADE, NCTE have not provided mechanisms that compel specific, concrete, demonstrable changes in working conditions;
WHEREAS, we contend that inquiry into the effects of insecure labor provides important data about teaching and learning;
WHEREAS, labor-focused research has the potential to improve both working conditions and teaching practices;
WHEREAS, currently, there exists a dearth of support for creation, publication, and dissemination of research into labor and its effects on teaching;
WHEREAS, in the spirit of both fulfilling the vision first announced in the 1987 Wyoming Resolution and preparing future writing studies professionals to be labor-responsible colleagues, advocates, and administrators, we call for reform and sustained action at the levels of institutional compliance, disciplinary pedagogy, and scholarly research.
THEREFORE, be it resolved that:
A. At the level of institutional compliance,
1. We call upon disciplinary and professional organizations such as NCTE/CCCC, ADE, MLA, RSA, and CWPA to consolidate and publicize the numerous extant professional standards documents on one user-friendly, accessible website; and where appropriate to revise or update those standards.
2. We call upon these professional organizations to contribute at least one board-level member to an inter-organizational labor board.
3. We call upon this board to develop a seal of approval that would be issued to departments/programs that fulfill current disciplinary standards for reasonable and equitable working conditions.
4. We call upon this board to hear grievances from faculty who believe their departments/programs have violated the current standards as clearly outlined through the action of provision A.1.
5. We call upon this inter-organizational labor board to establish and publicize clear protocols for investigating those grievances.
6. We call upon this board to establish a process for announcing the results to the grievants and to the accused in such a way that would first allow non-compliant departments/programs to work internally to remedy the situation before results are made public.
7. We further call upon this board to establish a process for making public a program/department's failure to remedy a violation of professional standards (A.1) for working conditions
B. At the level of pedagogy, we call upon our disciplinary and professional organizations to:
1. Draw explicit attention to the reality that material conditions are teaching and learning conditions--that current labor conditions undervalue the intellectual demand of teaching, restrict resources such as technology and space to contract faculty, withhold conditions for shared and fair governance, and perpetuate unethical hiring practices--as the central pedagogical and labor issue of our times.
2. Recognize issues related to labor as central components of all pedagogy/training courses, professional development initiatives across the curriculum, and pedagogically-focused conversations at national conferences, asserting that these topics must be a part of graduate and undergraduate teacher training, as well as professional development for current faculty.
3. Create a clearinghouse of information about how disciplinary professional statements such as CCCCs 'Principles for the Postsecondary Teaching of Writing,' NCTE's 'Position Statement on the Status and Working Conditions of Contingent Faculty' and CWPA's 'Portland Resolution' have amply codified best practices for reasonable and equitable working conditions, and where appropriate are in need of updating; how innovative teachers and administrators have made compelling, forceful, and successful arguments to help their institutions improve working conditions for all faculty.
C. At the level of research, we call on our disciplinary and professional organizations to support efforts to:
1. Offer more material and professional support and opportunity for the creation, publication, and dissemination of quantitative and qualitative research into the impacts of the labor system on the teaching and learning of writing.
2. Consider research into labor and its effects on teaching and learning with the same intellectual weight and scholarly respect as other subjects in our field.
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