GPSC proposes revamping of university's TA program

By Zach Thomas

Arizona Daily Wildcat

The GPSC recently announced a $3.3 million proposal that seeks to change the way Teaching Assistants are trained and increase their job benefits.

TAB, the proposed TA Benefits package, would not only reduce tuition and health insurance fees for TAs, but also would sponsor a yearlong, mandatory teacher-training program for rookie assistants.

"The current two-day training structure is not intended to teach skills," said Mitzi Forbes, chairwoman of the Employment Concerns Committee, a subcommittee of GPSC. "Our proposal involves teaching people how to teach."

TAB's teacher-training program comes as a partial response to last year's general call for putting more tenure-track faculty in the classroom. Taught through the College of Education, the biweekly program would offer seminar-style lectures on effective instruction.

The other $2.9 million of the program's proposed funding is earmarked for in-state tuition waivers and health insurance coverage for all TAs. Roughly $2.2 million would go toward the tuition for the 1,200 graduate TAs employed by the university. At $606 per student, general health insurance would be provided through the UA Student Health Center.

"The worst thing is to to feel like you're conscripted for slave labor," said Rob Canfield, an English Department TA. "It would make me feel like I'm a part of the team."

"The package as a whole is going to greatly increase the caliber of graduate students we can attract," said Lisa Rashotte, ECC member.

The TAB proposal will be debated and revised by the GPSC over the upcoming months and then presented to the Strategic Planning and Budget Action Committee as an all-funds request.

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