A few years ago, there was a call for tenure-track faculty to "just say no" to any hiring of contingent faculty instead of tenure-track lines, and if that meant courses didn't get taught, well, tough beans.
Now, I like the principles behind these idealistic stands, but I am wondering about how these would work in an economic environment like this one where state legislatures continually raid the higher ed budget to fund other things, where double-digit decreases in state funding are the norm, where tuition is mandated by the state not to increase, and where some governors may well destroy great university systems so that they can make the destruction a cornerstone of their conservative credentials. See
How might the conversation go at Everystate University? I'm hypothesizing that it might go something like this in the worst case:
Words and Widgets Faculty: "We need to teach 100 sections of Words and Widgets 101 next semester, but we don't have enough faculty."
Admin: "Increase course sizes. Put 'em in an auditorium. Hand 'em some clickers."
Faculty: "No, we won't increase course sizes."
Admin: "Okay, hire some contingent faculty."
Faculty: "No, we made a pledge not to do that. In fact, we need 10 new tenure-track teaching faculty in our department right away to teach 3 sections apiece. We will also need you to fund the search costs. If you don't do that, we can't and won't offer 100 sections."
Admin: sounds of crickets
Time passes. True to their pledge, the Words and Widgets Department offers only 70 sections of Words and Widgets 101. Many angry phone calls from students later, the department and Admin meet again.
Faculty: "See? We can't offer these courses without enough tenure-track teaching faculty."
Faculty. "Not gonna do that. It would threaten our educational mission and break our pledge."
Admin. "Here's 70% of your last year's budget, then, since you only taught 70% of the students. Oh, and we now have an agreement with MOOCs-R-US to teach the other 30% online."
Faculty: "You can't do that. You have to run it through the Faculty Senate."
Admin: "Oh, can't we, though? Bwahahahaha!"
This doesn't mean that the noble ideals aren't worth fighting for. They are. But in my pessimistic moments, I wonder about how these might fare in the world of academe as it currently exists.
Edited to add: See Bardiac's roundup at http://bardiac.blogspot.com/2015/06/teaching-track.html