adjective: incapable of being defended, as an argument, thesis, etc.; indefensible.

Synonym:  baseless, groundless, unsound, weak, questionable.

origin of un + tenable – 1640-50  Middle English

British dictionary definitions:

  1. (of theories, propositions, etc) incapable of being maintained, defended, or vindicated
  2. unable to be maintained against attack
  3. (rare) (of a house, etc) unfit for occupation


  1. The status quo is untenable.
  2. Today, educators in America are put in the untenable position to provide equitable learning to all students with neither the proper funding resources nor administrator discernment as to how to manage the resources, both human and monetary.

The origin of UN

a prefix meaning “not,” freely used as English formative giving negative or opposite force in adjectives and their derivative adverbs and nouns (unfair; unfairly; unfairness; unfelt; unseen; unfitting; unformed; unheard-of; un-get-at-able), and less freely used in certain other nouns (unrest; unemployment).         [Thank you, Dictionary.com)

The workload of a teacher far outweighs the load of nearly every other profession in the U.S. save for those in which the pay is actually commensurate with the work as in the legal and medical fields. Such is not the case with teaching. In the past five years, public school educators have been placed in a headlock spending 10 hours or more per day working well beyond a regular laboring life. More than inspiring students to learn, building lesson plans, writing curriculum, grading, setting up labs, writing posts for those whose classes include an online component, keeping up with our students’ lives, and helping them to achieve goals and lifelong fulfillment; our second jobs of unpaid work include massive volumes of data collection about our students that demonstrates exactly what they learn and what they don’t whether they earn an “A” or a “C” or any other grade.  The grading system that has been formerly used to identify the value of a particular student’s contributions to their coursework and measure their “takeaway” is being pushed aside for more drill-down evidence gathering.  We must now keep in check the exact binary code of what they learn and how they learn it, input the information into a system, wait for it to spit back results of aggregated and dis-aggregated data for us to read and discuss…rinse, wash, repeat.

Although we have reduced the classroom output to statistics-gathering, one can learn from the information to apply some changes that may better serve the classroom. The assessments can provide information about a particular assignment that needs further grooming. However, the amount of time it takes to work the numbers and refine can be daunting in an already overloaded schedule.

Faculty who teach at community colleges have varying degrees of extra hours of service per week that they must contractually provide to the school. This can be achieved in myriad ways from Academic Senate committee work to coordinating various aspects of  program offerings. Depending on the committee or the program, this extra service can extend far beyond the service details and add up to what would be considered another part-time job, all for no extra pay – in other words, volunteerism. The act of volunteering generally feels good for the soul and one who volunteers usually receives kudos for such work. However, a huge amount of free work that never ends and increases over time in addition to one’s paid work adds up to OVERWORK. This leads to stress and dis-ease. Such is the state that I have come to in the past two years of over-over-OVER work-work, overwork. (unrest)

Consider volunteerism on a committee that helps faculty achieve best results in writing new and updating old Course Outlines of Record.  Next consider adding membership on the Academic Senate Executive Council that assists with myriad issues pertaining to assistance in the governance of the college with regard to Academic and Professional Matters (aka: the 10+1). Add a full teaching load in a specialty department that includes not only providing tuition in both lecture and labs,  grading quizzes and exams, reading student papers and reports, but also completing written and verbal evaluations of students’ creative work and projects. This equates to a 90-hour-per-week workload for which one is paid 40. (And in our particular circumstances at my college, we are paid less than our 2007 wages in the 4th most expensive city in America.) Unfair

Compare this to several jobs in the same workplace that pay far more than the teacher’s salary, but complete the workday at 5p. There exist many lucky souls who finish by sundown and go home to their families to enjoy the important part of one’s life. Some among the administration’s staff are paid upwards of $40-50K MORE annually than faculty, and their jobs do not include the daunting task of inspiring a student body comprised of a huge population of under-served citizens, preparing students for university transfer, helping veterans who seek education and training on the promise from the GI Bill, first time college students, those aspiring to skills in workforce development, those in need of basic and remedial education, the lifelong learners, and even homeless students. The administrative professional’s job is to support and serve the administration. But I often ask myself why they are paid so much more than those of us who actually bring the students to the college? (Unheard-of) When did the switch occur that an administrative professional earn more than a teacher or has it always been this lopsided? Many of my colleagues read about various jobs posted in HR that are quite enticing because some of the jobs pay far more for less hours spent working and provide an affordable life in this expensive city.

As for me, I am always exhausted. My stomach hurts most days since I carry my stress there and my brain goes off in ticker-tape mode around 3-4a every morning beckoning me to wake up and catch up. Sometimes lately, I think about how nice and freeing it would be to merely swim out into the ocean, past the waves, to drift in the freedom of the big deep beyond.

Then, BLINK!   I wake up…

learning_wordle-716728    swimming-ocean

About danaj33

writer * department chair of Broadcast Electronic Media Arts and audio faculty at City College of San Francisco * music composer and producer * always in discovery mode, learning, living, loving, and laughing.
This entry was posted in Absurd, Education, Life in San Francisco, People, Politics and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to UnTENable

  1. Pingback: UnTENable – DanaJae

  2. bringsbeauty says:

    Wow! You left not a stone unturned with this BLOG entry…. Most excellent. Thank you!

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