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Give TAS credit for their work

By Jared Aragona
Arizona Daily Wildcat,
December 7, 1999
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To the editor,

I am writing to disabuse you of some of the erroneous assumptions you are under as expressed in the editorial entitled "Teaching assistants deserve pay increase." The first is the notion that GATs work less than thirty hours a week. It is certainly in our contracts that we work twenty hours a week, but consider the following:

Most GATs spend six hours per week teaching; a minimum of three hours per week in office hours; since GATs do not assist a professor or lecturer, at least three hours per week preparing class lectures and activities; a minimum of one hour per week preparing assignments and handouts; one hour per week answering student e-mails; and at least two hours per week grading daily assignments, in-class exercises or quizzes. This totals a conservative 16 hours, but a far greater amount of time is spent elsewhere.

Unlike many other courses, English teachers cannot use Scantron to evaluate their students. Composition students write three 4-7 page essays per semester and are required to turn in a minimum of two drafts. Most classes also require a midterm, and all require a final exam. This amounts to an average of about 275 pages of student writing that needs to be read, evaluated and responded to eight times per semester. This increases the total hours GATs spend working to over an average of thirty hours per week, let alone twenty.

In your editorial, you also make a ridiculous analogy between GATs and fast food employees or seasonal mall workers. Aside from the obvious difference in required skills necessary to hold these types of jobs, GATs manage 50 people, more than most fast food employees, mall workers or corporate managers.

Finally, your criticism of GATs (both male and female) receiving health care for dependents and childcare services is based on fallacious reasoning. Because some GATs do not have families does not mean that the benefits would not be available to them should they have families in the future, thus those GATs are not being treated unfairly because they don't have families. Further, it's a slippery slope to conclude that benefits for teachers at the university, who happen to also be students, would result in the necessity to grant such benefits to all students, although childcare services for all students would be a great thing.

I hope you will amend these erroneous assumptions for your readership.

Jared Aragona

English department GAT

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