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Volume 44, Number 2  March 2013 Community College Council of the California Federation of Teachers American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO

State budget The numbers are better, but serious policy changes proposed by Governor Brown require discussion, especially if adult education is folded into the community college system.

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CalSTRS looking to protect long term picture If nothing is done, chances are that CalSTRS will face a significant shortfall in three decades. Luckily, we have time to address the problem.

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McDowell elected chair of Student Aid Commission

The California agency responsible for disbursing $1.7 billion in student aid is headed by a Los Angeles Community College District faculty member, whose goal is “to make sure everyone who needs to be a student can be.”

California Federation of Teachers 1330 Broadway, Suite 1601 Oakland, CA 94612


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City College of San Francisco faculty trying to keep the

“community” in community college

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P E R S P E C TI V E   March 2013


President’s Column Carl Friedlander, CFT Community College Council President

Is the accreditor discrediting accreditation? I

f you work at a college laboring to get out from under some sort of accreditation sanction, you’re not likely to be a fan of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). Even if you work in one of the handful of community college districts that have managed to stay sanction-free over the last decade, you may view the hours and dollars spent on “ACCJC compliance” at your college as a mandated misuse of precious human and financial resources. Meeting and documenting of accreditation as compliance compliance with accreditation intervention—in stark contrast standards is not a favorite faculty to its traditional collegial role.” activity anywhere in American Why is accreditation turmoil higher education—especially in concentrated in the California the brave new world of Student community colleges? I believe Learning Outcomes (SLO’s). it’s because the ACCJC leaderHowever, most of us acknowlship, more than the leadership of edge that self-regulation through any other regional commission, peer and professional review has inappropriately embraced a makes, in theory, great sense, particular “education reform” and know that SLO work, like agenda. This Commission’s it or not, has become part of zealotry is roiling the system and accreditation. Faculty across the poisoning faculty attitudes about country may grouse about the accreditation itself. work involved in accreditation, Consider the following: but only in the California com• ACCJC sanctions colleges munity colleges do faculty find with a frequency and ferocity themselves fantasizing about unheard of in any other region shifting to a new Commission of the U.S. (or in the fourthat can accredit our colleges or year section of WASC). The even substituting state oversight comparative data is clear and for ACCJC oversight. We conmind-boggling. sider these desperate alternatives • In response to a recombecause the relationship between mendation from the ACCJC and the California com2009 Chancellor’s Office munity colleges has become Accreditation Task Force to rather toxic. “develop more non-public ways to communicate to camCompliance intervention vs. puses their need for improvecollegiality ment,” ACCJC President ACCJC argues that its everBarbara Beno replied that stricter and more directive ACCJC “moved to all pubstandards and policies are the lic sanctions…in response to unavoidable result of prespressures from the DOE.” sures and mandates from the Yet other regional accrediting U.S. Department of Education: commissions continue to treat pressures and mandates that and describe “Warning” as “a escalated dramatically under private sanction.” So is it D.C. Bush/Spellings and have barely or Novato (where ACCJC abated under Obama/Duncan. is based) demanding that all Washington D.C. is, indeed, part sanctions be public? of the problem. As Judith Eaton, • ACCJC’s singular focus should the respected President of the be ensuring that standards Council for Higher Education are met. Yet President Beno, Accreditation (CHEA) describes along with other ACCJC staff, it, “Federal law and rules now serves on the Advisory Board constrain the peer and profesfor the Campaign for College sional review process of accrediOpportunity (CCO). The tation, taking us down a path work of CCO is controversial

The CFT represents over 120,000 educational employees working at every level of education in California. The CFT is committed to raising the standards of the profession and to securing the conditions essential to provide the best service to California’s students. President Joshua Pechthalt Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Freitas Senior Vice-President Lacy Barnes

within the system. There should be a firewall between ACCJC staff and the boards of community college advocacy organizations. It is similarly inappropriate for ACCJC to take positions on legislation affecting the community colleges, as the Commission has recently done. Returning to Lumina its $450,000 grant for “exploring use of the Degree Qualifications Profile and Tuning at community colleges in California” would be another way ACCJC could clarify that the Commission is

good thing. However, it is an affront to democracy to tell trustees that they put at risk the accreditation of the colleges they were elected to represent if they speak out on issues they care about or communicate with a wide range of individuals, constituencies and interest groups rather than relying almost exclusively on the perspective of their district’s chancellor/ superintendent. These kinds of behaviors by ACCJC leadership compound the problem of the federal pres-

This Commission’s zealotry is roiling the system and poisoning faculty attitudes about accreditation itself. about ensuring standards, not spearheading a reshaping of community college education. • Finally, ACCJC must stop using the threat (or fact) of accreditation sanctions to undermine California’s system of locally elected board of trustees. Providing training to trustees about accreditation and their role in it is a

sures and make many faculty feel that accreditation in California today has almost nothing to do with “peer and professional review” and is instead about ACCJC spearheading an aggressive (and, many believe, misguided) “reform” agenda. Spearheading a “reform” campaign is not the business of an accrediting commission.

Mark Your Calendar March 15 - 17

CFT convention, Sheraton Grand, Sacramento

April 8 - 9

CFT Lobby Days, Citizen Hotel/State Capitol, Sacramento

May 4

CFT Committees, Marriott, Manhattan Beach Community College Council, Marriott, Manhattan Beach

May 5

Cover: AFT Local 2121 members Abdul Jabbar and Jacob Picheny, among others, rallied outside the City College of San Francisco Diego Rivera Auditorium while CCSF interim chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman spoke inside to a nearly empty room on January 11. See story page 3. Chris Hanzo photo

The California Federation of Teachers is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.

CFT State Council, Marriott, Manhattan Beach

Perspective is published three times during the academic year by CFT’s Community College Council. Community College Council President Carl Friedlander Los Angeles College Guild, Local 1521 3356 Barham Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90068 Email Direct inquiries regarding the Community College Council to Carl Friedlander Southern Vice President Jim Mahler AFT Guild, San Diego and GrossmontCuyamaca Community Colleges, Local 1931 3737 Camino del Rio South, Suite 410 United Labor Center Bldg. San Diego, CA 92108 Northern Vice President Dean Murakami Los Rios College Federation of Teachers AFT Local 2279 1127 – 11th Street, #806 Sacramento, CA 95814 Secretary Kathy Holland Los Angeles College Guild, Local 1521, 3356 Barham Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90068 Editor Fred Glass Layout Design Action Collective EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS Direct editorial submissions to: Editor, Community College Perspective. California Federation of Teachers 1330 Broadway, Suite 1601 Oakland, CA 94612 Telephone 510-523-5238 Fax 510-523-5262 Email Web To Advertise Contact the CFT Secretary-Treasurer for a current rate card and advertising policies. Jeff Freitas, Secretary-Treasurer California Federation of Teachers 2550 North Hollywood Way, Ste. 400 Burbank, CA 91505 Telephone 818-843-8226 Fax 818-843-4662 Email

Although advertisements are screened as carefully as possible, acceptance of an advertisement does not imply CFT endorsement of the product or service. Perspective is a member of the International Labor Communications Association and AFT Communications Association. Perspective is printed and mailed by Eagle Press in Sacramento.

Union Bug

March 2013   P E R S P E C TIVE

Whose college?


Keeping “community” in community college

City College of San Francisco fights for its life F or the last year, San Francisco Community College faculty have been under siege, not just from a newly-hostile administration, but from an accreditation commission that has threatened the District’s very existence. To protect their institution, faculty have worked with students and community leaders, given up wages, campaigned for ballot measures to secure new funding, and defended their vision of community-centered education. Unfortunately, AFT Local a committed, student-centered 2121 has been forced to fight faculty, and high-quality librarat a time when cooperation ies and counseling, but said the is needed to save the school. college’s governance, planning “Our hope was that the college and leadership were inefficient, would look at a long-term plan and that it had not adequately to stabilize it,” says Alisa Messer, documented “Student Learning local union president. “What we Outcomes.” have, however, is an administraThe commission also said tion that isn’t interested in talkDistrict fiscal planning was poor. ing with us.” Over the past three years of the CCSF has 85,000 students and state’s fiscal crisis San Francisco 1650 faculty. It serves more stu- has endured a $53 million loss dents than any other community in revenue, and suffered a $6 college in California, with an million operating deficit last annual operating budget of $200 year. The unions and previous million. chancellors had avoided layoffs In the spring of 2012, the through temporary concessions. Accrediting Commission for But the ACCJC said there had Community and Junior Colleges not been enough cuts or can(ACCJC) began its normal celled classes, that too much accreditation cycle. Six years (92%) of the budget was spent ago it had made various recomon personnel, and that too few mendations to the District, but administrators were on staff. issued no sanctions. Yet in July In other words, CCSF was 2012, it found the District defifaulted for keeping the cuts away cient in 14 areas. The commisfrom the classroom. sion gave the college credit for When the ACCJC issued its

Chris Hanzo photos

CCSF faculty remind the administration that San Francisco voters want their parcel tax to go to programs, not reserve funds, and that accreditation agencies are supposed to help, not hurt, public education.

report, it put CCSF on “Show Cause” status, the most serious sanction short of shutting down the college entirely. Faculty reacted with shock, and community leaders questioned the need for endangering the college’s future.

Emergency measures Just prior to the release of the commission report, the faculty union and the District had agreed to emergency measures, identifying more than $8 million in savings from faculty, including a 2.85% wage cut for the 2012-2013 school year. Then faculty, students and labor campaigned for state Proposition 30 to prevent further cuts, and citywide Proposition A, a parcel tax to plug the hole in the District budget. In their ballot argument for Prop A city political leaders, including trustee Anita Grier, promised that funds would be used to “maintain core academic courses...provide workforce training... provide an education that prepares students for four-year universities; keep City College libraries and student support services open; keep technology and instructional support up to date, and offset State budget cuts.” Opponents, represented by the Libertarian Party of San Francisco, borrowed the ACCJC’s arguments, including the charge that 92% of the budget was used for salaries, and that department heads had too much power. District budget projections showed several possible election outcomes. In the worst case, if both Props A and 30 failed, the District projected a shortfall of $24.5 million. Without Prop A, the hole would be $10 million. But if both passed, the District projected a modest surplus. In late October the CCSF board appointed a “special trustee,” Bob Agrella, past president of Santa Rosa City College. The board retained its ability to meet and make decisions, but Agrella was given the power to veto decisions about the school’s response to the ACCJC. On November 1 the board hired an interim chancellor, Thelma Scott-Skillman, retired president of Folsom Lake College near Sacramento.

Upending expectations In November voters passed Prop 30. Prop A won with 73% of the vote, and the college community felt more hopeful. In December, however, District negotiators announced they would impose a 4.4% “annualized” wage cut on faculty, retroactive to July, on top of the previously negotiated 2.85% cut. The administration refused to bargain, claiming the contract gave it the right to take such action, and imposed the cuts. As of January, faculty had lost an additional 9% from each paycheck. Scott-Skillman produced a new budget projection. On the line where Prop A income

college would use the money for keeping classes and accessibility. Now the administration is doing what people feared,” she says. “Students are scared about the future of the college. The administration must do what it takes to keep the college open, without squeezing out the most at-risk students or forcing extreme cuts on the faculty.” The use of ACCJC recommendations to justify extreme salary cuts worried community college union leaders across the state. In a letter to CCSF trustees, 16 CFT local officers warned, “Maintaining the college’s accreditation is paramount...but your actions at the bargaining table directly

CCSF students and faculty rally January 11 against interim chancellor.

had been listed previously there was—nothing. The District had decided to use all Prop A monies ($14 – 16 million) to increase reserves and fund pension liabilities. The administration claimed this was a mandate from ACCJC, regardless of promises to voters. The San Francisco Labor Council warned, “San Francisco’s labor leaders and their unions—and many rank and file members—helped organize, finance, and lead the way to secure significant new revenue sources for the college... [but] the District is failing to engage in constructive contract negotiations and instead proposing further concessions.” AFT 2121 filed a grievance and an unfair labor practice charge, accusing the District of violating the contract through the imposed cuts. Agrella told the state community college board of governors these objections were keeping the college from meeting the ACCJC’s recommendations by the March 15 deadline.

What people feared Shanell Williams, urban studies major and president of the Associated Students at CCSF, worked on the Prop A campaign. “Many people asked us how we could be sure the

threaten this progress and should stop. The CFT will not stand for accreditation being used by the District as an excuse for advancing additional, permanent pay cuts and reductions in health benefits and threatening to impose them if the union doesn’t acquiesce.” By March 15 the District will tell the ACCJC the steps it has taken to meet its recommendations. Newly-elected trustee Rafael Mandelman says that meeting the commission’s recommendations should be “a collaborative process that requires a lot of input from students, that has to be negotiated with employee groups.” But faculty, staff and student groups have generally been left out of the decision-making, while concerns have been raised about the ACCJC process itself (see sidebar page 6, and President’s Column on page 2). The precipitous and unprecedented move of CCSF being placed directly on “Show Cause” status without any intervening sanctions left faculty and observers across the state wondering about ACCJC’s motives—a mystery deepened by the agency’s lack of transparency. But some parties were more forthcoming. Continued on page 6



P E R S P E C TI V E  March 2013


2012 elections bring big wins for college faculty


assion. It is the key ingredient for great teachers, advocates for social justice, and public servants. Dedication to the common good shaped the lives and careers of two part-time community college teachers elected to the California State Assembly in the November 2012 election.

Garcia: honest government and education Cristina Garcia first made headlines in Los Angeles when she took on corrupt officials in the City of Bell. Crooked managers and councilmen were bleeding the city dry, leaving few municipal resources to improve the lives of hardworking residents. Garcia’s efforts carried risks. Assassins had tried to take out honest reformers in neighboring South Gate. Undeterred, she rallied with others under the aegis of BASTA, the Bell Association to Stop the Abuse. Honest government was important, but Garcia knew that ensuring upward mobility for people of modest beginnings also required education. And not enough of her childhood friends and neighbors were going to college, and not enough college students were matriculating through the system.

Garcia, with a passion for math and statistics, became a teacher at Los Angeles City College. She also pursued her own education, becoming a doctoral candidate at the University of Southern California.

Gomez: LACCD and AFSCME Jimmy Gomez’s multiple passions took him to the Los Angeles Community College District and to AFSCME, where he represented unionized nurses. Gomez identified with community college students because he was once one of them before earning degrees at UCLA and Harvard. Garcia and Gomez are the two most recent professors to become state elected officials and to bring their classroom insights into the public policy realm. The most notable predecessor to start as a community college teacher is Judy Chu, another Los Angeles instructor, who won

a seat in the state house before going to the U.S. House of Representatives, where she continues to advocate on behalf of higher education and for educator interests.

Only two of many These state legislative races represent only two of the many contests to engage community college instructors, staff, and students. Measure A, a parcel tax to financially assist San Francisco City College, proved to be the most animating local issue. AFT Local 2121 mobilized its members, forming an alliance with the United Educators of San Francisco, which represented K-12 teachers, classroom aides, and community groups such as the Chinese Progressive Association. In San Diego, college professors and classified employees made history by helping to elect a pro-labor mayor. The life of Bob Filner, a former AFT professor and longtime member of Congress, is likewise driven by passion for justice. Working with John Lewis and others in the Student Nonviolent

Newly elected Assemblywoman Christina Garcia taught at Los Angeles City College.

Coordination Committee (SNCC), Filner risked his life registering African Americans to vote in the South in the 1960s. In addition to these state and local candidates, and local parcel measures, community college instructors and staff partnered with students to pass Proposition 30, to bring new revenue into the system, and to defeat Proposition 32, which would have limited labor’s collective voice in the political arena.

Looking forward, CFT is developing a short and long term strategy: sponsoring a bill, Senate Constitutional Amendment 4 (Leno) to lower the undemocratic two thirds threshold to pass local parcel taxes in the current legislative session, and, in conjunction with community allies, beginning to explore ways to modify the business portion of property taxes under Proposition 13. By Kenneth Burt,CFT political director

Budget numbers good, budget policy bad


he budget for community colleges looks much more positive following the passage of Propositions 30 and 39. We need to thank the Governor for the brighter fiscal outlook and his emphasis on higher education. However, the Governor would like to implement very serious policy changes that will require equally serious debate and discussion. For example, the Governor that becomes less funded proposes to shift responsibilover time while we remain ity for Adult Education from accountable to maintain its K12 to the community colleges quality? for $300 million. There are In addition, since the many questions that need to be Legislature continues to underresolved, such as: fund current community col• how will this shift affect our lege missions, do we really need current for-credit basic skills another one? programs? A number of districts sup• will we need to change our port this shift, and a trailer bill is minimum quals for Adult Ed already in print, so this may be faculty, and how would they a train that has already left the fit into our current salary station and we might not be able schedule? to stop it. I think that the pros• how might this affect student success rates that have become pect of gaining $300 million for community colleges is coloring central to our accountability? what may be a bad policy deci• will community colleges be sion, especially if we move forwilling to contract out those ward before many of the issues services to current Adult Ed have been resolved. programs at the high schools? • is $300 million enough to take Buying down deferrals over what was once a $900 The Governor proposes $179 million program? million to buy down exist• will the Legislature coning deferrals and what he calls tinue to fund Adult Ed in the “wall of debt.” This would the future, or will it become lower the total year-over-year another mandated program

deferrals from $801 million to $622 million. While I believe it is important that we support the Governor on his promise to the public that he will address the “wall of debt” I think we can do that while at the same time providing more money for programs. Over the course of Prop 30 (7 years) we only have to average $115 million each year to buy down the entire $801 million. That means there would be an additional $64 million available for programs such as restoring categoricals, growth/ restoration, and COLA.

the operation over to a private MOOC provider such as Udacity, Coursera, or edX. Can we just say no!? [See article on page 7 for reasons why—ed.] The Chancellor’s Office is willing to have a central online common portal, and its staff say they don’t believe that Governor Brown understands how many online classes we already provide in community colleges. The Governor proposes a 5-year phase-in of funding apportionments based on completion rather than on census date enrollment. Districts that

The Governor proposes that no state support would be provided for students who exceed 90 units. This would have a serious effect on students in high unit load majors. The Governor proposes $16.9M to enhance online education efforts in the community colleges, including the creation of a centralized “Virtual Campus” with a single hosting system, and possibly introducing Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), and turning

would lose funding due to completion rates would have that money shifted to student support services. In effect it would be cost neutral; but districts with historically low completion rates would suffer because they would lose courses, faculty, and students, and those same districts

may not reach their enrollment targets, which would further reduce their funding. Districts might respond by reducing the number of difficult courses, by offering more classes with high completion rates, and/or by lowering academic standards.

Serious effect The Governor proposes that no state support would be provided for students who exceed 90 units. This would have a serious effect on students in high unit load majors, such as nursing/allied health, the sciences, or on anyone who wants to change majors. In addition, the number of returning students who have degrees and want retraining for a new career or to advance in their current career would face a serious roadblock. I have highlighted just a few budget policy issues. There are many more. It is critical that the Community College Council remains vigilant on the budget or we may face serious setbacks in academic quality and the success of our students. By Dean Murakami

March 2013   P E R S P E C TIVE




Projected shortfall for 2046

Improving the fiscal health of the teachers’ retirement system P

ublic employee pension funds have taken serious hits due to the fiscal problems of the past decade, first with the dotcom bust, and then the 2008 Wall Street crash and recession. The funds invest money contributed by workers, employers and sometimes government bodies. When the market rises and the value of investments increases the funds do well. But when the market falls the value of those accumulated contributions falls as well. the time Hendricks and others The California State Teachers retire. The fund has a projected Retirement System (CalSTRS) shortfall of $64 billion, looking is no exception. In the worst at what it will have to pay out year of the current recession, by then. 2009, it lost 25% of the value of its assets. That precipitated a Defined benefit plan discussion in California that has CalSTRS is a defined benefit been a long time coming. plan, meaning that the benefits This isn’t a crisis teachers receive on retirement are defined by a formula, not Sharon Hendricks, a member by the amount of money in the of the Los Angeles Community College Guild, AFT Local 1521, fund. Currently the formula for those employed through the end is also the elected community of last year is called “2% at 60.” college representative on the Teachers who retire at that age board that oversees CalSTRS. receive 2% of their final salary “This isn’t a crisis,” she emphaat retirement times years of sersizes. No one is in danger, she vice. For those hired starting this points out, of losing his or her year the formula is “2% at 62,” pension, disability or survivor which advances the qualifying payments—the benefits funded age two years. by the system. “But we have The formulas are actually a long term problem. We can more complicated (detailed fix it, but we have to take information is available on the some action now. I’m going to CalSTRS website, retire myself in 30 years, and The average pension replaces like many other members, I about 53% of salary at retirement will need the benefits then that CalSTRS was built to provide.” in 2012. CalSTRS members don’t receive Social Security for The problem CalSTRS faces their CalSTRS-covered employis that the combination of the ment, so the pension is often a contributions currently being retiree’s sole income. Further, made by school employees, most CalSTRS retirees don’t school districts and the state of California, plus the expected rise receive employer-paid health in value of the fund’s assets over coverage after 65. CalSTRS benefits are funded time, is not enough to meet the by contributions from teachers fund’s expected obligations by Photo courtesy of Sharon Hendricks

Los Angeles AFT member Sharon Hendricks, elected community college representative on the CalSTRS board, is working with new legislators to help them fix CalSTRS’s longterm funding issues.

(8% of their payroll), employers (8.25% of payroll), the state (5.25% of payroll) and investment earnings. Those contributions haven’t increased for a long time—the last employer increase was 22 years ago, and for teachers, 40 years ago. The impact of the fiscal crises, however, makes it unreasonable to count on investment returns alone to restore the system to full funding. In order for this to occur CalSTRS estimates it would need to earn at least 17% in investment returns each year for the next five years, followed by 25 years of 7.5% investment returns to achieve full funding in 30 years; no one thinks that’s going to happen.

Options The state Legislature, therefore, passed Senate Concurrent Resolution 105 in 2012, telling CalSTRS to give it a choice of options for fixing the problem. The CalSTRS board of trustees has no power, under the state Constitution, to change contribution rates. This can only be done by legislation. The Legislature is on the hook if the shortfall isn’t fixed. Fiscal predictions say that without action, the fund’s assets will be

“We have a long term problem. We can fix it, but we have to take some action now.” gone by 2046. If that happens, the state would have to pay benefits due under the plan from its general fund. Last year the fund paid $10.7 billion in retirement, disability and survivor benefits. Of the alternatives, one would be to do nothing and hope insolvency doesn’t occur. Another possibility considered in the report to the Legislature is to increase the rates of contribution. For this possibility CalSTRS developed a set of questions, including defining the financial objective, the schedule for achieving it and for implementing increased contributions, and how much the contribution increase should be for each of the three contributing parties: CalSTRS members, employers and the state. The objectives could include fully funding the plan’s obligations, setting an arbitrary funding goal, avoiding the depletion of its assets, or just delaying that. There is neither a proposal yet for the amount by which

contributions would have to be increased, nor a proposal for how the increases would be allocated. “We are not looking at any sudden increases,” Hendricks says. “These would be gradual increases over time. We do have to make increases, but they will be slow and gradual.” Further, they have to be crafted as legislation that passes through the Legislature and is signed by the Governor. The board is just presenting them with scenarios—it is up to elected officials to write the final bill. “We have a lot of new legislators,” Hendricks notes, “for whom this is all new. In the CFT we’ve already started working with CalSTRS staff, and we plan to meet with all the new members quickly, and explain to them how important it is to address this issue.” By David Bacon



P E R S P E C TI V E  March 2013

Whose college?

“Community”, Continued from page 3

For instance, Robert Shireman, director of California Competes in San Francisco, and former deputy undersecretary of education in the Obama administration, wrote an anti-faculty op ed for the San Francisco Chronicle, which has been unremittingly hostile and one-sided in both its news coverage and editorial policies toward City College. In a followup interview in another publication, Shireman

are seniors here for activity or lifelong learning. Not everyone is coming for a degree. We have a college and a community that values this inclusive and diverse approach, and we need an accreditation process that takes this approach into account.” Comments faculty member and Local 2121 Executive Board member Allan Fisher, “Federal government’s pressure on the accreditation commissions to

“Education reformers are concerned about completion rates and increasingly call for ‘performance metrics.’ We see community colleges as institutions serving the broad community.” said that although the commission needed more enforcement tools than forcing a closure, “At some point you have to let the hatchet fall.”

Enrollment drop-off Says Alisa Messer, “In this worldview, education reformers are concerned about completion rates and increasingly call for ‘performance metrics.’ We see community colleges as institutions serving the broad community. At CCSF, our students move in and out, they have jobs and kids, they are here to move up in their careers or retrain. Some are immigrants learning English, while others

sanction more colleges [comes from] very wealthy activists like Bill Gates who represent corporations and large foundations. Their efforts to ‘improve accountability’ through measured outcomes and the demand to push students through faster are likely to discourage students and limit educational opportunities.” Already the college has suffered an enrollment drop-off due to the relentless negative publicity in the city’s only daily newspaper, especially its alarmist reporting that makes loss of accreditation and closure seem inevitable. Loss of enrollment will mean a reduction in state

funding, just as Props A and 30 kick in. One possible lifeline: Assemblymember Paul Fong is introducing legislation that would allow community colleges under severe accreditation sanction, and that have secured a new funding source (such as Prop A), to avoid any loss of current year revenue. This could provide colleges with an important funding bridge, enabling them to preserve access for students while maintaining an appropriate level of faculty and staff to serve them. When the District’s report to the ACCJC is made on March 15, Special Trustee Agrella will ask for either an extension of time, he says, or for the District to be put on probation, a less severe sanction than “Show Cause.”

Organizing Whatever the commission’s decision, it is clear that the staff and faculty at CCSF now have a difficult road to restore confidence and trust in a major public institution, and they are organizing to make that happen. “We can and will address our problems, and we will survive as a college that keeps the ‘community’ in community college,” said Messer. “But it will take some time to repair the damage done by the ACCJC, and by those unwilling to engage

ACCJC by the (inconsistent) numbers Number of accrediting agencies in the country: Percent of the nation’s higher education institutions accredited by ACCJC: ACCJC’s share of sanctions issued in nation in 2012: Number of days prior to ACCJC meetings its own rules require public notice: Number of days prior to January meeting it posted notice: Amount of time prior ACCJC “show cause” sanctioned institutions were given to address recommendations: Amount of time allowed CCSF to address recommendations: Number of colleges without a history of sanction or extreme circumstances ever moved directly from no sanction to “show cause”: the broader community in constructive dialog and change. We demand an inclusive, balanced, and fair approach to ensure that the changes we make are in

6 5% 35% 30 5 two years 8 months


the interest of improving our college and maintaining the learning opportunities that San Franciscans deserve.” By David Bacon

On the line of the post-election budget projection where Prop A monies had appeared before the election, now there was nothing.

San Mateo, Continued from page 8 the California Education Code section 7054, and could be either a misdemeanor or a felony offense. I learned that if convicted of a felony charge, I could spend up to a year in jail for forwarding one political email message to my colleagues. AFT’s lawyer advised the D.A. that the District’s email system had become a public forum by practice, with access protected by the Constitution. Evidence showed that Board members, the administration, and another organization had used it for extensive political advocacy, and that the law does not apply to non-District employees (such as me). Thus began a surreal saga for myself and the leadership of

AFT Local 1493. The ordeal, which felt at times like a bad spy novel, finally came to an end July 12, 2012, with the receipt of another email. This concluding message was sent by an investigator in the District Attorney’s office to our union’s lawyer. It said, among other things, “[I want to] let you know that my report and your submission on the topic have been reviewed by a prosecutor and this office has decided that there is no basis for further action. I will be closing this investigation. I have advised the District [the SMCCD] of this decision.” Though I had assumed that, as someone accused of felony offenses, I would have the right

to read the charges that had been alleged against me, neither I nor AFT 1493’s attorney are legally entitled to a copy of the D.A.’s or his investigator’s report, so we have not received any report. No D.A.’s office has an obligation to provide the target of an investigation with a copy of the reports they have prepared, even after the target of the investigation, who incurred significant legal expenses, has essentially been vindicated. Without the D.A.’s report, I can only speculate, based on the evidence I do have, on why the District would choose to pursue what ultimately must be deemed a frivolous and intimidating charge, which naturally would have the effect of chilling free speech.

The offending email The email I forwarded to a select list of my colleagues was from the sole AFT-endorsed candidate for the SMCCD Board of Trustees, a nonincumbent. However, because the email I had forwarded was essentially no different from campaign email messages that sitting Board of Trustee members had sent on their own behalf to District employees in past election campaigns, I suspect that the D.A.’s report came to the same conclusion I and many others came to, namely that I had done nothing wrong, and that the impetus behind the allegations against me was punitive and retaliatory against our

union for not having endorsed incumbent Board members.

The result: legal fees that could feed a family of four for a decade So in the end AFT Local 1493 spent tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees to address what turned out to be unsubstantiated and frivolous allegations. Now pending with the Public Employment Relations Board is an Unfair Labor Practice charge that AFT 1493 has initiated against the District. The remedy that AFT seeks is that the District should pay all of our legal expenses in this matter. by Dan Kaplan AFT 1493 Executive Secretary

Educational technology

As teaching and learning technologies become more sophisticated, some observers see them as an increasingly viable set of alternatives to traditional classroom models. Here and in coming issues of The Perspective we will examine, from varying points of view, some of the contentious logistical, philosophical, and political problems associated with integrating especially web-based technologies into community college education.—Editor


he rush toward the creation of massive open online courses (MOOCs) is catching on in higher education like wildfire. All it takes, it seems, is to wave a bit of money around, talk up the brave new world of technological innovation, bash the “failed” world of higher education as we know it, and the privatization troops have administrators in a fit of unexamined, swooning technophilia. dismissed as part of the corrupt MOOCs are designed to old world of failed higher eduimpose not improved learning cation, troglodytes as afraid of but a new business model on this bold new magic as cavemen higher education, which opens were of fire. the door for wide-scale profiIn the San Diego Community teering. Public institutions of College District we have dared higher education then become to step in front of the vaunted shells for private interests who train of progress that many of will offer small grants on the us see as nothing more than a front end and reap larger profits repackaged Taylorism for acaon the back end. demia. The San Diego City The MOOC crowd promCollege Academic Senate ises cost savings, efficiency, recently passed a resolution improved access and the answer decrying the move toward to our “completion” woes. The MOOCs. The resolution folconcern as voiced by Arne lowed on the heels of a faculty Duncan himself is that in our

Demoting professors to the level of information delivery systems may be gratifying to our detractors and financially attractive to bean-counters, but it won’t improve education in the process of “transforming it”; it will degrade it. quest to increase completion, maintain quality and save money: “The last thing we want to do is hand out paper that doesn’t mean anything.” Wethinks he doth protest too much.

The heart of what we do In our view, the central philosophical flaw in the MOOC paradigm is that proponents believe that there is nothing to be lost in turning professors into glorified tutors, parts of a larger information delivery system. What this misses is that the heart of what we do as college educators has to do with the


their purposes at the same time. It’s nice work if you can get it.

Unthinking technophilia In the meantime, our job as professors, according to the dictates of the emboldened technocrats, is to become ropemakers for our own professional hangings. The debate here is not really one about technology and higher education, as most of us know that online education is now a permanent part of the educational landscape with legitimate uses. No, what this MOOC debate is about is whether we blithely open the door to the gutting of what is most precious about what we do. If the unthinking technophilia and new Taylorism which MOOCs represent ends up killing face-to-face education as we know it, it won’t be because the technology offers a superior form of education. It will be because our visionless political and educational leaders have almost entirely abandoned

educational values for market values. As many scholars have noted, in the era of neo-liberalism we have just about given up on the notion of education as a public good rather than a mere commodity. Let’s hope we don’t allow this near-total triumph of market values to destroy one of the last public spaces in our society not completely determined by greed and instrumentalism. As opposed to the creed of the forces of privatization, we believe that there are still things whose value cannot be determined by the market, and that education in a democratic society should be much more than an instrument of our economic system. By Jim Miller (adapted from “Unthinking Technophilia,” a longer article that appeared in Inside Higher Ed, January 14, 2013, co-authored with Jennifer Cost, Peter Haro, Jonathan McLeod, Jim Mahler, and Marie St. George) Jos Sances

Petri dishes And that’s the big lie behind this allegedly noble quest to provide much broader access to higher education and improve student learning. There is not a bit of proof that MOOCs will do so in any meaningful way. The notion is to turn community colleges into Petri dishes for MOOC experiments, principled objections be damned. There are costs to cut in the public sector and dollars to be made in the private sector. The much-hyped arrival of MOOCs has been made possible by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a host of the usual corporate education reform suspects, who have long been involved in a full-court press propaganda campaign for their venture/vulture philanthropy. Critics, meanwhile, are

presentation at the San Diego Community College (SDCCD) Board of Trustees meeting in response to administrative attempts to circumvent the departmental and collegewide shared governance process so as to rush through grant applications for MOOCs at both City and its sister college, San Diego Mesa College, before any campuswide discussion had occurred. This resulted in Chancellor Constance Carroll declaring a one-year moratorium on MOOCs in the SDCCD while a task force investigates the appropriateness of this new form of instruction for our district.

immeasurable human interaction that we have with our students and the vital social experience of the face-to-face classrooms. This is something that simply can never be reproduced by a new technology, no matter how advanced. Demoting professors to the level of information delivery systems may be gratifying to our detractors and financially attractive to bean-counters, but it won’t improve education in the process of “transforming it”; it will degrade it. But to the academic Taylorists, who don’t believe in anything that can’t be quantitatively measured, this kind of thinking is destined for the dustbin of history. The brave new world of MOOCs will give lots of people who can’t go to Harvard access to “Harvard,” but it won’t be the same. Indeed, the future of higher education will be less egalitarian and far more twotiered with the sons and daughters of the elite still receiving real top-quality educations while other folks will get something different, quick, cheap and easy. But this tale of two futures is perfectly in line with the thinking of the plutocrats who brought us the “productivity revolution” in the business world. There they got a smaller number of American workers to labor longer hours for the same money and fewer benefits while increasing productivity and bringing record profits for those at the top. In the realm of higher education, they can blame the colleges for the fact that fewer graduates are prepared for employment in the austere marketplace that they fostered while milking our schools for profit and transforming them to


Giulia Forsythe, used under CC share-alike License

MOOCs: Making the rope for our professional hangings?

March 2013   P E R S P E C TIVE


P E R S P E C TI V E   March 2013

Local Action Los Angeles Staff Guild wins agreement for classified employees who teach For years, full time classified employees in the Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) taught classes, according to their discipline, as adjuncts in the District. They received their pay for each job, and no one worried about it. In 2003 an administrator decided that full-time classified employees who taught part-time must reduce their classified assignment by the number of hours they taught. The reasoning: the federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) mandates paying time-and-a-half for work over forty hours per week. The administrator feared the District might become liable for greater payments to those people who fell into the double category, and convinced the rest of District administration to be fearful too.

The FLSA, passed in 1938 as a crucial part of the New Deal’s labor-related legislation, put in place national wage and hour rules, including a minimum wage, standard daily (eight) and weekly (forty) hours of work, and mandatory time and a half pay for work over forty hours in a week.

Not abstract The AFT Staff Guild, Local 1521A, representing classified employees in the nine campus district, was determined to find a way for its members to teach without penalizing them with a loss of other work hours. This was not an abstract issue. Currently more than 120 district employees fall into the category of full-time classified workers who also teach. Pamela Atkinson, a full-time Computer Network Support Specialist since 1985 at Los Angeles City College, has also taught computer science and computer technology since

2000. She is on the Staff Guild’s negotiations team, and unlike District administration, she took the time to read the FLSA. “It’s a fairly complicated thing,” she admits. Atkinson determined that the hourly rate paid adjuncts (a special rate negotiated by the Guild’s sister local, the L.A. Faculty Guild, AFT Local 1521) already qualified as better than time and half, compared to classified salaries. So there was no conflict, after all. The union leadership consulted with the administration over a long period of time in an effort to resolve the issue. Even with the research findings, the administration lacked a timely response. The union filed a grievance. Finally, in January 2013 deputy chancellor Adriana Barrera and Staff Guild president Velma Butler signed a Memorandum of Understanding. It stipulated that classified employees who teach are, in effect, already receiving at least time and a half

compensation for the classroom hours, and therefore will no longer be required to reduce their hours working classified, if the adjunct assignment is outside their regular classified assignment. If it is during the classified assignment, the employee needs supervisory approval, and will revert to a flexible schedule.

Sounds trivial, but... Pamela Atkinson greeted the news with relief. “Three hours reduction per week may sound trivial, but when you add it up over a year’s time, and ten years’ time, it makes a real difference in lost pay, seniority, and vacation accruals.” Joanne Waddell, president of the Faculty Guild, gave credit to her sister local. “This is huge. Everyone wins. The Staff Guild deserves a lot of credit for their persistence. It helps to be right. But it helps even more to be persistent.”

San Mateo District calls in D.A. after union staffer forwards political email—Bizarre 6-month criminal investigation follows On October 24, 2011, I forwarded an email to my AFT Local 1493 list (which consists of around 55 colleagues of mine in the San Mateo Community College District and in a few other community college districts) entitled “I don’t want to be alone,” written by a candidate who was then running for a seat on the San Mateo Community College Board of Trustees. A couple months later, the District forwarded my email to the San Mateo County District Attorney. The District Attorney’s office launched an investigation into my forwarding this email to my personal, professional mailing list. The allegation was that my forwarding of this email violated Continued on page 6

McDowell named chair of Student Aid Commission

“Our goal is that students and taxpayers get the most bang for their buck; we try to make sure it’s well-spent.”

eligibility about 80% of the for-profit schools because they didn’t have a high enough graduation rate and as a group, too many of their students were defaulting on federal loan repayment. “They were loading students up with debt that they couldn’t pay back. The for-profits use a disproportionate share of financial aid, and often their students are not prepared well for jobs. Our goal is that students and taxpayers get the most bang for their buck; we try to make sure it’s well-spent.” Along those lines, McDowell says, “I intend to work closely and cooperatively with all the agencies the CSAC interacts with, especially the governor’s office and the Legislative Analyst’s Office.”

Same motivation As for his motivation, it is no different, McDowell says, from what drives him as the head of the Labor Center at Los Angeles Trade Tech or as a longtime local AFT activist. “I have spent my entire adult life fighting against tuition and

Photo courtesy of Kenadi Le


ongtime Los Angeles College Faculty Guild leader John McDowell, appointed to the California Student Aid Commission by Assembly Speaker John Perez last year for a four-year term, has been elected by his fellow commissioners to be Chair of the Commission. Chairs serve for one year in that capacity. Dream Act implementation The Commission oversees disbursement of federal student McDowell said that another aid not only for the community goal is implementing the Dream colleges, but for all segments Act. “I want to make sure that of public and private higher students who qualify under the education. The Perspective asked Act get their aid.” Toward that McDowell what his goals were end the Commission has created for the Commission in the com- a Dream Application online. ing year. “It’s different from the Free “We are in charge of oversee- Application for Federal Student ing 1.7 billion dollars of student Aid Form because the Dream aid this year, most of it Cal students’ issues of confidentiality grants,” said McDowell. “My are being addressed.” McDowell goal and the Commission’s goal wants to “ramp up publicizing is that anyone who wants to go the Dream application as well to college should be able to do as the others, because lots of it. Research shows that lowstudents just don’t realize they income students who get aid are could get financial aid, and more likely to meet their goals: this is the way they will learn to graduate, to persist in pursuabout it.” ing and completing their work, Another key issue: McDowell to transfer, to achieve certificates reports that the Commission or degrees.” eliminated from Cal Grant

California Student Aid Commission chair John McDowell wants California to return to the days of free higher education, but in the meantime he’s working on getting financial assistance to all students who need it.

fees in California public higher education. Education should be free for everyone who needs it. Second best to having a free education system is providing aid to students who need to be

there on the biggest scale possible. I still think we need free higher education, but until we have it again I’ll fight to make sure everyone who needs to be a student can be.”

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