David Levy, former Chancellor at New School University wrote an op-ed a few days ago arguing that professors were paid too much. Teaching 9-15 hours a week for 30 weeks a year, that's a pretty sweet gig, especially for $80,000-150,000 a year.
Paul Krugman, a professor at Princeton, wrote a response in the New York Times, arguing that professors don't have it so easy, just look at the salaries and teaching loads of professors at large state schools and community colleges.
Fair enough. The cushy life isn't universal to all professors. Some professors are saddled with 4/4 teaching loads (that's four classes per semester, not four credits), have classes that require a lot of grading and feedback, and are still expected to do research and writing on top of that. But, that's not a defense of the professoriate, just a defense of those at the bottom. Don't lump them all together.
Mitchell Rubinstein (New York Law and St. John's Law) decided to weigh in on the Adjunct Law Profs Blog:
My take on this is that anyone who thinks being a professor is easy because it only involves teaching 3 classes a semester does not know what most professors do. Teaching is only a small part of what they do. To teach 9 hours a week, the professor must prepare. They must also keep abreast of the latest developments in their fields. Many also spend a considerable amount of time doing research, meeting with students and serving on faculty committees.
Not so fast!
Now we're in the law professor context and all the arguments fly right out the window. Three classes a semester? That is very unusual. The original Levy article described professors teaching 9-15 hours a week, and Krugman's article looks at a similar workload. But for law professors that is next to unheard of. A 2/2 teaching load is on the heavy side for a law professor, that's about 10-12 credits per year, not per semester. Many work far less, often teaching no more than 5-6 credits each year.
If you're trying to make ends meet as an adjunct, yes, it's incredibly rough. Teaching 24 credit hours of humanities undergrad classes a year might only pay only $16,000-20,000 a year, and that's if you can get that much work. But anyone who thinks a law professor's job is hard because it involves teaching 3 classes a semester does not know what most professors do, because it sure as hell isn't teaching 3 classes a semester.