Volume 44, Number 3 May 2013 Community College Council of the California Federation of Teachers American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
New CCC president San Diego’s Jim Mahler brings a solid record of local success to the statewide office of CFT Community College Council president.
Online education far from panacea
The governor and legislative leaders say online learning will solve the problem of declining access to required classes, but this ‘solution’ actually undercuts quality public higher education in a number of ways.
A first look at Prop 30’s impact
The promise was that if we pass Prop 30 the revenues will go to restoring deep cuts to public education. A spot check of community college bargaining tables indicates the expected funding is beginning to help.
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On a mission and off the rails
P E R S P E C TI V E May 2013
President’s Column Carl Friedlander, CFT Community College Council President
Thoughts on the way out I
First, thank you for allowing me the privilege of serving as president of the Community College Council for the last six years. The leaders of CFT’s community college locals are smart, committed, and, to a person, a pleasure to work with. I also feel fortunate that my tenure as CCC President encompassed the four years when Marty Hittelman and Dennis Smith were the president and secretary-treasurer of our statewide union and then the last two years with Josh Pechthalt and Jeff Freitas in those roles.
Union-senate partnership would make it extremely difficult for ACCJC to mis-characterize its opposition as “unions resisting accountability.” With terrific statewide and local leaders aided and abetted by topnotch staff, CFT has built a record of impressive accomplishments during this tough six-year period.
CCC and CCA Many of you will recall that during 2008-10 I promoted the idea of unifying CFT’s Community College Council and CTA’s Community College Association (CCA) into a single, dually affiliated constituency level organization with everybody a part of the AFL-CIO. Leaders and staff from CCC, CFT, AFT, CCA, CTA and NEA spent many hours developing a workable framework. When the unification discussions ground to a standstill (for a number of reasons), there were probably more sighs of relief than of disappointment on the CFT side. Unification is not on the horizon today, but I continue to believe that that the current organizational fragmentation limits our effectiveness,
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n my final Perspective column, I want to share a few observations and thoughts on my way out the door. that a stronger partnership between CCC and CCA should be forged, and that unification is a sensible long-term goal.
Union, Senate and ACCJC Though the same people comprise the membership of both, law requires organizational separation between community college faculty unions and academic senates. However, a strong partnership is vital. Effective senates understand and respect collective bargaining and union political engagement; effective unions take academic and professional concerns seriously and work to address them. Without partnership, senate and union are both weaker, and management can easily pit the two faculty organizations against one another. Consider for a moment the fight against the counter-productive overreach of ACCJC, our accrediting commission. The faculty response to ACCJC would be more powerful – and perhaps more sharply focused – if there were greater unionsenate cross-pollination. Union activists should be involved in accreditation – serving as selfstudy chairs, on visiting teams, and even as Commissioners; senates should be considering resolutions opposing ACCJC’s intrusions into bargaining, its efforts to dictate the behavior of elected trustees through the threat or fact of institutional sanctions, etc. Relatively few faculty, staff or managers in our system believe that ACCJC’s work, on balance, has really benefited our colleges and their students. Union-senate partnership would make it extremely difficult for ACCJC to mis-characterize its opposition as “unions resisting accountability.” MOOCs, two-tier fees, two-tier faculty The terrible budget cuts over the last five years have spawned a variety of ill-conceived “solutions” to the problem of shrunken access: MOOCs for credit (and profit), a narrower mission, two-tier fee structures, etc. CCC/CFT has played
Cover: Artist Jos Sances’s conception of the impact of the ACCJC’s accreditation policies on California’s community colleges.
The California Federation of Teachers is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. 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 Perspective is published three times during the academic year by CFT’s Community College Council. Community College Council
Outgoing Community College Council president Carl Friedlander (left) accepting a ‘Dedicated Service Award’ from CFT president Joshua Pechthalt at the CFT Convention in March as he steps down after six years at the helm of the CCC.
a major role in beating back these schemes and will need to redouble its efforts with the new legislators. Speaking of two-tier systems, the “elephant in the community college living room” continues to be the fact that more than two-thirds of the state’s community college faculty are underpaid, under-benefited parttimers. CFT, along with all the other faculty organizations, has consistently called for more fulltime positions and for parity in compensation for part-timers, but progress in Sacramento and in most districts has been modest because new revenue has been limited. The striking exception has been the bargaining that created such outstanding pay and benefits for the part-timers of CCSF. Part-timers there fared so well in a zero sum game because full-timers sacrificed to make it happen. In a similar but much smaller way, I’m proud of the local leaders that comprise the CCC for their near-unanimous
support for AB 950 (Chau), our sponsored bill that would limit full-time overload to no more than an additional .5 FTEF for full-time faculty during regular terms in order to provide some additional opportunities for part-timers. While the number of actual classes involved is relatively small, the bill is important. CFT sponsorship of AB 950 shows our fulltime faculty are willing to make some small sacrifices, not just wave the flag for part-time rights. Unfortunately, it is a bill that none of the other major faculty organizations have so far been willing to endorse. *** That’s some of my list. Once again, thank you for the chance to serve as president of the most dynamic council within the California Federation of Teachers. I leave knowing that the CCC will be in extremely capable hands.
Mark Your Calendar Jun 24-28
CFT’s Union Summer School, Asilomar, Pacific Grove
AFT TEACH conference, Marriott Wardman Park, Washington, DC
CFT Executive Council, CFT Office, Burbank
CFT Committees, [TBA], [North] Community College Council meeting [TBA, North]
CFT State Council, [TBA], [North]
CFT Council of Classified Employees Conference, [TBA], [North]
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 Email email@example.com Direct inquiries regarding the Community College Council to Jim Mahler Southern Vice President Dean Mancina Coast Federation of Educators AFT Local 1911 2701 Fairview Rd Costa Mesa, CA 92626-5563 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 firstname.lastname@example.org Web www.cft.org 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 email@example.com
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 Network. Perspective is printed and mailed by Pacific Standard Print in Sacramento.
May 2013 P E R S P E C TIVE
photo courtesy of Jim Mahler
Newly elected CCC president
Organizing and politics: a formula for winning J
im Mahler’s dad was a longshoreman. Family awareness about the concerns of working people couldn’t help but rub off. Just a year after the younger Mahler went to work at San Diego City College he ran into Larry Schwartz, then the president of the Faculty Guild, in front of the copy machine. “I told him I wanted to get active in the union,” Mahler remembers. “He turned to me and said, ‘Come to the meeting at my house on Saturday. You’re on the E Board.’” At the time, the budding local had 37 members, having just decertified the California Teachers Association chapter. “We held our meetings in a faculty office,” Mahler laughs. “Now we hold them in a hotel ballroom.” Today Mahler is the president-elect of the CFT’s Community College Council. He hopes to help other community college unions draw from the San Diego experience, where the Faculty Guild has grown enormously as a result of organizing combined with political action.
Engineering education Mahler’s way of seeing faculty union problems undoubtedly stems in part from his education as an engineer. After growing up in the Bay Area, he got a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Physics and a master’s in Mechanical Engineering at UC Berkeley. He became interested in teaching while working as a teaching assistant in a program for underrepresented students. After graduation he got a job with oil services giant Schlumberger in Mexico and Argentina. “Even then I was thinking about getting a job in a community college, helping prepare the students I’d seen having trouble at Berkeley, so they’d have a better shot at making it through the system. I knew, though, that if I didn’t work at least a little as an engineer, I’d never come back to it. I wanted to give it at least a couple of years, and in Latin America I got a chance to get my Spanish down.” After putting in time on the oil rigs, Mahler began job hunting in San Diego, attracted by its warmth, urban environment, and diverse mix of students. “Things fell into place,” he says, “because of those degrees in math and science, plus I had some bilingual skills.” At San
Diego City College he started by replacing faculty members on sabbaticals. Within a year he was working full time, and after another year got a permanent position.
Fish out of water That was when he met Larry Schwartz by the copy machine. “At first I didn’t understand what they were talking about at union meetings, or the language they were using. I was a fish out of water.” But Schwartz recognized his high level of interest, and became his mentor. Mahler’s first job was to sign up new members as the adjunct rep on the executive board. One reason union members were dissatisfied with the CTA chapter was that it had agreed to a 2-tier contract; newly-hired faculty couldn’t advance on the schedule and had fewer rights than longer-term instructors. Once CFT won bargaining rights, it got rid of the 2-tier arrangement.
for part timers. This time the union won the fair share vote; its resources grew.
No more divide and conquer That year the local decertified the California School Employees Association as representative for the district’s classified employees. “This was really a vote to eliminate the separation between faculty and classified employees,” says Mahler. “In the past, in effect the faculty had negotiated for everyone else, and whatever raise we won set the standard for everyone else. Now we negotiate together, which makes us much stronger.” By law, each unit has to negotiate a separate contract. “But the district can’t use divide-andconquer tactics any longer.” With new resources, the union also went after a group of instructors who teach at the 32nd Street Naval Station. This group had voted for CFT previously, but decertified their own local when the district promised improvements. “The promises were broken, of course,” Mahler explains. “But we told them we’d help only if they came into our existing local.” They agreed, and the
“Part of my goal at the CCC is to export this model. If it can work in east San Diego County, one of the state’s most conservative areas, it can work in a lot of other places too.” That won a lot of support for the new union, and it began to grow. When Mahler got tenure, he became the contract rep on the union board. He would go to the other two district campuses, Mesa and Miramar, handle faculty grievances, and recruit. When Schwartz suddenly passed away in 1995, Mahler ran for union president and was elected. The Faculty Guild had earlier lost votes for ‘fair share,’ the provision in which all people in the bargaining unit pay the costs of representation. But then it coupled the ratification vote on the 1998 contract with another fair share ballot. The contract was popular because it won a 6.3% raise, binding arbitration and benefits and job security
union remained the bargaining agent even when the Navy switched from San Diego to Florida State University. The union grew again when it absorbed instructors in the district’s continuing education program. In 2000 the union made a strategic decision to win a different relationship with the district’s board of trustees. “In the past we’d just wait and see who was running, and then endorse the candidates who made us promises,” Mahler recalls. “Those promises would be good for about 30 days after the election, and then they’d turn on us.” That year the union found its own candidates for two board slots – one open and one
Incoming CCC president Jim Mahler has been an activist local president in San Diego, and intends to do the same as CCC president.
occupied by an incumbent. Each side spent over $100,000, and the union candidates won. “We bankrupted the local,” Mahler says. “We had to juggle money just to pay monthly bills afterwards. But it made a big difference.” Just before the election the board had voted to contract out food services. Afterwards the decision was rescinded, and 50 jobs were saved. “We were getting the crap beaten out of us in a long drawn-out contract fight. Two months after the election we settled. If we’d lost the election, who knows what would have happened. But we won, and everything was good.” Every election since then the union has run candidates, and all five board members support it. When the district chancellor wouldn’t implement state-mandated pay equity legislation, the board overruled him and put the money on the schedule.
Not “temporary” Today the district employs 600 full-time faculty and 1700 part-timers. The membership percentages are 95% and 75% respectively. In 2008 the Guild won union representation rights for yet another unit, at San Diego’s three community college campuses, and its seven continuing education centers, where hundreds work as temporary hourly employees. “Temporary” is a misnomer, since the district has employed many for years. At the beginning, the Guild thought there were about 500 hourly workers, but discovered that there are sometimes as many as a thousand. Like many districts San Diego had a long practice of hiring temps for 175 days, laying them off, and then hiring them back. The union used its board support to win district agreement that these temporary workers could vote in an internal
election, instead of using the cumbersome and timeconsuming PERB process. Eighty-seven percent voted for the union. A similar political strategy was used at the adjoining Grossmont-Cuyamaca district, where faculty belonged to an independent organization, United Faculty. According to instructor Michael Golden, teachers saw their biggest problems, like erosion of tenure and skyrocketing health benefit costs, couldn’t be resolved locally, “The district became more corporate, and would litigate every issue. We didn’t have the resources to fight effectively.”
Union supporters on board Golden and others set up an independent political action committee, and ran a high school teacher and union leader for the district board. Mahler came in, as an individual, to help on the campaign, using the experience accumulated in San Diego. Greg Barr, the union candidate, won election. Two years later they elected another teacher union activist from National City, Mary Kay Rosinski. And United Faculty leader Mary Graham was elected to the San Diego Community College board. During that campaign, Grossmont-Cuyamaca faculty decided to join forces permanently with the Guild, and filed petitions for AFT representation signed by 72% of the unit. By last year, all five members of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca board were union supporters also. “Part of my goal at the CCC is to export this model,” Mahler says. “It’s pretty adaptable. If it can work in east San Diego County, one of the state’s most conservative areas, it can work in a lot of other places too.” By David Bacon
P E R S P E C TI V E May 2013
Conflicts of interest besmirch accreditation
ACCJC: On a mission and off the rails that’s the case, then the ACCJC is in trouble.
CCSF as poster child The poster child for ACCJC overreach is City College of San Francisco. The ACCJC gave CCSF “recommendations” in 2006, but ACCJC did not issue a sanction at that time, and this is significant. The ACCJC returned to the college in March 2012 and found the college had not, in its view, successfully addressed the recommendations identified in 2006. When the ACCJC issued its CCSF finding in June 2012, the college was placed on “show cause”—as in, show cause why the institution should remain accredited. This jump from no sanction to the highest level short of closure was unprecedented. Earlier “show cause” sanctions on College of the Redwoods and Cuesta College had been issued by the ACCJC only following failure to address stipulations in previous, lower level sanctions. Equally disturbing, while typically an institution is given two years to deal with its difficulties, the ACCJC told CCSF it had but eight months to address 14 issues that
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t the end of April, the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) filed a complaint with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), and sent a copy to the United States Department of Education. In that complaint, the CFT protested the ACCJC’s action in placing City College San Francisco (CCSF) on a “show cause” sanction in 2012. The document laid out a strong case that no sanction, let alone “show cause,” should have been imposed on CCSF. It also notified the ACCJC that in the view of CFT, the accrediting agency is in violation of federal law and its own rules, and has overstepped its authority in a number of ways. testimony from faculty: the As CFT’s Community widely shared perception that College Council president Jim the people at the top levels of Mahler observed, “We need the ACCJC are vindictive and to get the commission back to where it used to be, as a positive vengeful, and believed to have force for quality instruction, not bumped sanction recommendations from the site visitation as an agency to be feared.” teams up to higher levels “to “Please don’t quote me” teach people a lesson.” If the perception is true, keepIf you talk with faculty at community colleges throughout ing your head down and working on “compliance” would California about their experience of the accreditation process seem the better part of valor; who wants to be known as the in recent years, you hear the individual who turned his or her same thing over and over again. vessel broadside to the ACCJC’s Faculty activists who have been cannons? unafraid to place themselves on public record on a range Beyond the chill of matters, including initially unpopular issues like opposition Beyond the chill cast over to wars or support for progresindividual speech, the threat sive tax policies, are saying, “I’ll and reality of ACCJC sanction talk with you about accreditahas contaminated collegiality tion, but don’t quote me. I between faculty and administradon’t want repercussions for my tion and disrupted traditional college.” methods of problem solving in Why the fear and trembling? many districts. As one off-theACCJC has been issuing sancrecord faculty member confided, tions at a rate hugely out of “On my campus, we worked proportion to other regional very hard, for years, to achieve accreditation agencies. A quara good level of collaboration, to ter of California community create the rules we can all play colleges are operating under one by and live with. Suddenly, of the three levels of sanction— with the sanction hanging over warning, probation, or show us, you end up throwing all that cause. Comparable numbers for overboard. There’s an alarm the other regional accreditation bell constantly ringing, and the agencies are far lower. These line from top management now sanctions can, and do, have dire becomes, “Well, if you don’t effects—increased faculty workdo this, you compromise our loads, priorities shifting from existence.” At times I was told, instruction to administrative in enforcing our contract or the paperwork, and plunging enroll- EERA, “You’re putting us in ment and falling state revenues jeopardy.” And it wasn’t just based on that enrollment. the union being told. Academic Thus sanctions can, perhaps senate leaders went through counter-intuitively, also damsimilar things.” age the ability of community Not everyone thinks the crisis colleges to perform their cenatmosphere is all bad. As one tral task—delivering quality administrator noted from an instruction to their students, at alternative perspective, “Many least during the time it takes to times it’s been a nice stick to get address the accrediting agency’s people to change.” concerns. The historical record points to Hence the anger at ACCJC’s the conclusion that these faculty actions, and a thread that runs fears of retaliation for speaking through all the off-the-record out may well be justified. If
CFT president Joshua Pechthalt speaks at a rally on February 28 in front of San Francisco City Hall with Assemblymember Paul Fong (left), who introduced AB 1199 to provide community colleges under accreditation sanction breathing room. Behind and to the left of Pechthalt is AFT 2121 president Alisa Messer, and to his right are Tim Paulson, Secretary Treasurer of the San Francisco Labor Council, and Assemblymember Tom Ammiano.
were rooted in state underfunding. After 2007, we suffered $53 million in cuts in four years, slashed out of the district’s budget from state allocations.” Between the two accreditation site visits, the college’s technical infrastructure decayed, maintenance was deferred, and admin-
An accreditation agency must avoid not only conflicts of interest in its work, but, as the ACCJC’s own handbook delineates, even the appearance of a conflict of interest. fell under the broad areas of finances, decision-making, and measurements. But through a linguistic sleight of hand, ACCJC changed the rules of the game between 2006 and 2012. CCSF’s supposed failure to address the recommendations of the site visit team in 2006 did not represent a failure to respond to sanction, since there was none. Yet in 2012 the “recommendations to improve” morphed into a need to “correct deficiencies,” a different definition under the guidelines for accreditation, and offered as a major reason why the “show cause” sanction was imposed. Alisa Messer, president of AFT 2121 at City College, argues that “Many of CCSF’s problems
istrative positions went unfilled. The ACCJC’s response was to largely ignore the economic context, and then ding the college for too few administrators, outdated technology, and depleted reserves—in essence, for keeping the cuts as far away as possible from classrooms and student services. The resultant negative publicity, fed by a steady drumbeat of yellow journalism-style misinformation from San Francisco’s sole daily newspaper, created enough anxiety in CCSF’s student population that enrollment fell by nearly 10%. The Board of Trustees hired a new Chancellor from outside the district, and agreed to take on a “special trustee” with
extraordinary powers appointed by the state. “Neither of these top decision-makers had any experience with or connection to City College of San Francisco and the communities it serves,” says Messer, “and certainly no emotional attachment to its historic successes, personnel, or future.” Following passage of Prop 30 and San Francisco’s parcel tax, Prop A, in November 2012, the CCSF administration and Board of Trustees decided to allocate the new revenues to budget reserves, administration, and technology—seemingly everywhere but the classroom, while demanding further salary concessions and class cutbacks. This was contrary to the expectations of 73% of San Francisco’s voters, but apparently aligned with the ACCJC’s demands, and set the administration and Trustees on a collision course with the district’s faculty, staff and students, which is now unfolding in sharply rising conflict over budget and policy issues.
RP Group report validates view A report issued by the Research and Planning Group for California Community Colleges (RP Group) in 2011 validates the view that something was seriously wrong with Continued on page 5
May 2013 P E R S P E C TIVE
Continued from previous page
the ACCJC’s approach in San Francisco—and in other community colleges across the state. The RP Group, no nest of radicals, is a foundation-supported organization of community college managers and board members, “working to build a community college culture that views planning, evidence-based decisionmaking, and institutional effectiveness as integral strategies for student success.” Acting on behalf of the State Chancellor’s office, the RP Group was concerned at the soaring level of sanctions in California (at the time of its research, 14% of ACCJC institutions, versus 1% and 3% of the institutions covered by the two comparison accreditation agencies; it’s even worse now) and at the discontent emerging in the “community college culture” with ACCJC’s approach to the accreditation process. It looked at the practices of other regional commissions and compared them with the ACCJC’s (“Focusing Accreditation on Quality Improvement”, at http://www.rpgroup.org/ projects/archive). The RP Group offered an
analysis that is damning. The orientation of ACCJC is at odds with best accreditation practices, which, according to the RP Group, should focus on active engagement with a college community in educational quality improvement, not quality assurance from on high through a punitive focus on compliance. The RP Group notes that the emphasis on compliance “…can detract from institutional improvement priorities—implying a disconnect between the intentions of the commission and the experience of the colleges.” The RP Group found in its research that “transparent, open and honest opportunities for feedback without fear of retribution are critical to a commission’s relationship with member colleges.” But “…the colleges interviewed found ACCJC generally unreceptive to constructive criticism and expressed a fear of retaliation.”
Just the beginning The RP Group’s report was, characteristically, ignored by the ACCJC. But the report just scratches the surface of the agency’s departure from the norms
of behavior by an accreditation agency. The San Francisco case illustrates what those problems are. An accreditation agency must avoid not only conflicts of interest in its work, but, as the ACCJC’s own handbook delineates, even the appearance of a conflict of interest. Yet during the year prior to the stunning “show cause” sanction, CCSF and the ACCJC were on opposite sides of a major legislative battle over SB 1456, the product of the Student Success Task Force, which proposed to drastically overhaul the mission and practices of California’s community colleges. CCSF students, faculty, and members of the Board of Trustees testified against the Student Success Task Force recommendations and SB 1456, held rallies against it, came out in force to the January 2012 state Board of Governors meeting to oppose the bill, and ultimately succeeded in eliminating some of the most objectionable policy language in the bill. On the other hand, the chair of the ACCJC, Barbara Beno, sent letters to legislators urging them, on behalf of the ACCJC, to pass
SB 1456. The ACCJC lent its name as a supporter on the official Bill Analysis. Federal law requires accrediting agencies to be independent, both administratively and financially, of related or affiliated trade associations or membership organizations. Yet ACCJC’s president, Commissioner Steven Kinsella, and Vice President John Nixon, are active in the Campaign for College Opportunity, which advocated for SB 1456; and the ACCJC worked with the Community College League of California as a “partner” in supporting SB 1456.
Former CCC president Carl Friedlander noted that, “Spearheading a “reform campaign” is not the business of an accrediting commission.” ACCJC’s task is to accredit colleges based on the current state mission, not to propose changes to it. Lobbying clearly puts it at odds with its role in evaluating the accreditation of CCSF, and any other college that took a position against SB 1456.
Change coming Why is this happening now, Continued on page 6
was in Rocklin visiting Congress member Tom McClintock’s office to explain the effect of sequestration on public education funding in California. The federal cuts caused by sequestration would impose an additional 5% cut to education (see box on this page), and since many are federally mandated programs, we are obligated to backfill programs with a federal shortfall with state funding. The staff was sympathetic; they mentioned that McClintock voted against sequestration, and said they would convey my message to him. They were less sympathetic when I complained about his vote for the Ryan budget. The Governor’s proposal to have Community Colleges take over Adult Education was defeated in a bipartisan unanimous vote by the Assembly Budget Committee (Subcommittee 2, higher education). The Committee Chair, Susan Bonilla, a former Adult Educator, clearly understood the issues. The Governor’s office can bring back a revised Adult Ed proposal. But the legislature will probably shift the $300 million appropriation to K-12.
Performance-based funding The Assembly Budget Committee Sub 2 also voted down the Governor’s proposed performance-based funding, 90 unit cap, and changes to the Board of Governor’s Fee Waiver Program. Committee Chair Susan Bonilla cited the Student Success Task Force as one of the reasons for not voting for these proposals. While the Governor appears to understand that one of the primary factors preventing student success is poverty
California sequestration cuts by the numbers $146 million cut in Student Aid Programs, including: • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant Programs • Federal Work Study Program • TRIO Programs Gaining Early Awareness and Readiness for Undergraduate Programs (GEAR UP) $56.3 million cut to Career & Technical Education State Grants $131 million cut in WIA State Grants
(e.g. his proposed K-12 weighted formula funding), it is ironic that his performance-based funding model for community colleges only serves to punish districts that serve poor and under-represented students. I spoke with the Chief of Staff for Senator Carol Liu (Chair of the Senate Education Committee), since Liu had previously introduced performance-based funding legislation for community colleges. While we were able to defeat her proposal, the legislation eventually led to the Student Success Task Force, SB 1456 (Lowenthal and Liu). Her staff indicated that Senator Liu made a commitment to wait until the Student Success Task Force was implemented and evaluated before she would consider performancebased funding, and would not support the Governor’s proposal. So it will be extremely difficult for the Governor to pass performancebased funding for community colleges this year. 90 unit cap The 90 unit cap was criticized at the committee hearing for its negative impact on students in majors with high unit loads, returning students with degrees, and those students that change majors. Assembly member Al Muratsuchi commented that many students come to community college to explore their educational and career opportunities and goals. Therefore, it may take
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State budget update
Talking with legislators and their staff is a key part of the state budget process, and northern California CCC vice president Dean Murakami helped out on CFT Lobby Day on April 9 with Paula Villescaz, aide to Assemblymember Richard Pan.
time and several changes in their major for students to complete their community college education. His final comment was that “If any-
“If anyone can appreciate the value of a meandering life it should be Jerry Brown.” one can appreciate the value of a meandering life it should be Jerry Brown.” The Governor sees online education as one of the breakthroughs to address the access issue in higher education. He seems to have caught the Massive Open Online
Education (MOOC) fever along with Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg, who proposed SB 520 (see article on page 7). Our meeting with Senator Steinberg indicated that his primary interest was to implement a public-private partnership for online education; so his MOOC fever is gone, but he still suffers from a chest cold. We are working with our coalition partners, including unions within the CSU and UC system, to defeat SB 520 unless amended. It is a very exciting and exhausting time in the Capitol with all the budget and policy legislation in play. So please let legislative staff know you appreciate their hard work.
By Dean Murakami
P E R S P E C TI V E May 2013
Legislative Update Mónica Henestroza, CFT Legislative Director
State Revenue Legislation Proposition 30 restores a portion of programs and services that have been cut. However, it does not solve the state’s revenue problem completely. Over a billion dollars have been cut
constitutional vote requirement to 55 percent to approve a local community college or K-12 district parcel tax. This would provide more local control for districts to raise revenue. Recent polls by the Public
Proposition 30 restores a portion of programs and services that have been cut. However, it does not solve the state’s revenue problem completely. from the community colleges in the last five years, for instance; and Proposition 30 will restore just over $200 million to our system. For this reason, CFT is proud to co-sponsor legislation authored by the chair of the Senate Budget and Fiscal Review Committee, Senator Mark Leno. SCA 3 (Leno) provides the voters of California an opportunity to lower the
Policy Institute of California have found support for this measure. SCA 3 will be heard in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee in mid-May. CFT is also working hard to advance our community college policy bills. Two bills that affect community college educators were heard in their first policy committee on April 9th, and passed successfully. Fred Glass photo
Judy Michaels accepts a California State Senate Resolution in her honor from Carl Friedlander, marking her retirement as CFT’s legislative director, at the CCC meeting during the CFT convention in March. Southern California CCC vicepresident Dean Mancina looks on.
May is Labor History Month It’s official: this May is the first annual Labor History Month. Signed into law as AB 2269 (Swanson) in 2012 by Governor Jerry Brown, its purpose is to encourage schools “to commemorate this month with appropriate educational exercises that make pupils aware of the role the labor movement has played in shaping California and the United States.” For more information, go to www.
Classified Employees Legislation The Assembly Public Employees, Retirement and Social Security Committee heard CFT-sponsored AB 507 (Garcia), which increases the postretirement death benefit paid to the beneficiaries of educators in the California Public Employees Retirement System (CalPERS). At the hearing, Local 1521A member Mike Romo spoke eloquently from personal experience about the importance of adequate benefits. Many committee members, from both parties, were moved by his testimony. CFT is also involved in early discussions regarding AB 611 (Bonta), a legislative vehicle to address the California State Teachers’ Retirement System’s (CalSTRS) unfunded liability. Since the last issue of the Perspective, there has been a significant, positive development.
At the March 20, 2013, hearing of the Assembly Public Employees, Retirement, and Social Security Committee, Legislative Counsel presented its opinion that if the Legislature requires an increase in the mandated employer contribution to STRS for benefits authorized as of the 1986-87 fiscal year, then there will need to be a corresponding increase in the minimum guarantee prescribed by Proposition 98 (1988). While the details of this opinion still need to be sorted out, it could help efforts to fix CalSTRS’s fiscal health.
Finally, on April 23, CFTsponsored AB 1199 (Fong) overwhelming passed the Assembly Higher Education Committee. AB 1199 provides financial stability for a community college district that faces funding losses associated with enrollment losses following a severe accreditation sanction. This issue affects Local 2121 most immediately, but has broader repercussions given the frequency and ferocity of sanctions by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).
the ACCJC’s overreach. AB 1199, carried by San Jose’s Assemblymember Paul Fong, will create a stabilization formula for enrollment-related funding losses for any community college with a certified plan to improve accreditation status while under severe sanction from an accreditation agency. A community college experiencing enrollment decline over the subsequent year, and making progress to
address the sanctions, will be temporarily held harmless for failing to achieve its enrollment target. “It’s ironic that an accreditation agency itself has to be held to account,” says CFT president Joshua Pechthalt, who signed the complaint to ACCJC. “But it’s past time for someone to blow the whistle here. Community college faculty should be in their classrooms
with their students, not fearfully pushing paper to appease a wrong-headed “education reform” agenda, or worse, standing in unemployment lines because of these actions. CFT is prepared to do whatever it takes to make this right for students, faculty, and the quality of education in California’s community colleges.”
cft.org and click through to the Labor in the Schools Committee. You can order print materials there, as well as the 10-part video series on the history of the California labor movement, Golden Lands, Working Hands.
“ACCJC”, Continued from page 5
and how is the ACCJC getting away with what it’s doing? The precise answer to “why?” can only be speculative, given the lack of transparency in ACCJC deliberations. As to how it has managed, thus far, to break federal law, not to mention its own rules, with impunity, it’s because no one has stood up and said that it can’t. But that is now about to change. CFT’s complaint requires
action by the Department of Education within 30 days. [The complaint may be viewed at www.cft.org.] It states clearly that the ACCJC should be disqualified from judging CCSF, and the sanction imposed while engaging in a conflict of interest with the institution over which it was sitting in judgment must be lifted. CFT is also working on a legislative remedy to address some of the harm caused by
By Fred Glass
Anton Refregier mural, Rincon Annex post office, San Francisco
Community College Faculty Legislation The Assembly Higher Education Committee heard CFT-sponsored AB 950 (Chau), which limits the amount of excess work a fulltime faculty member in community colleges can be assigned. This bill builds on the work of AB 1826 (Hernandez), another CFT-sponsored measure from the last legislative session. Linda Sneed, CFT Vice President, and Pete Virgadamo, President of Local 6262, testified as the main witnesses in support of AB 950. During discussion, two committee members spoke in strong support of the legislation. Assemblymember Shirley Weber (D-San Diego) praised the measure for the positive impact it will have on student learning. Assemblymember Jose Medina (D-Riverside) spoke in support of the bill’s benefits to part-time faculty.
he state’s fiscal prospects are much improved thanks to the success of Proposition 30. April is a big month for tax receipts, and the LAO estimates the target this month for personal income taxes is $8.5 billion. By the time you read this, we will know how much revenue came in. This will be critical to the Governor’s May Revision updates.
May 2013 P E R S P E C TIVE
Steinberg offers SB 520, latest entrant in the online education sweepstakes T An important part of COERC is the “California Virtual Campus,” a website that bills itself as “Your California Connection to Distance Education.” Operating under the auspices of the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s office, it boasts that it offers information for 16,000 courses through 167 accredited institutions of higher education, public and private. Butte College administers the site for the Chancellor.
“Rich student profiles” Part of the California Virtual Campus, however, is operated by a private company, MyEdu, which helps students map “out your college experience and […] poise you for a successful transition into your career.” It does this by asking students to enter personal data and create an online profile of their education and career aspirations.
bundling student data is no doubt useful for corporations that see the California higher education student population of nearly three million as a market for myriad products, including student loans, and as the raw material for the big enchilada: securitizing student debt in financial markets—now the largest wad of personal debt in the country. Think of these ideas as background for the online education legislation now moving through Sacramento.
Waiting lists The governor’s proposal is slim on details beyond the money and a few homilies about the need to provide access to required courses for students who, due to the impact of the financial crisis, Great Recession, reduced state revenues, and consequent slashing of funding to higher education, can’t get into
Kelly Mayhew, executive board member of AFT Local 1931 (standing) and Mike Rotkin, vice-president for organizing of the UC-AFT (seated) present their case at a well-attended workshop at the CFT convention on the pitfalls of substituting online education for adequate funding to provide student access to public higher education.
of faculty to figure out which fifty courses these might be.
these classes, potentially handing over course approval, intellectual property rights, and revenues from public education to private businesses,” says Mahler. “And the third problem is that it has the potential to lower academic standards and not improve, but worsen the digital divide along socio-economic lines.” According to a five year study by the Community College Research Center at Teachers College, Columbia University, “student attrition rates—around 90% for some huge online courses—appear to be a problem even in small-scale online courses,” and community college students enrolled in these courses are “significantly more likely to fail or withdraw than those in traditional classes.”
the courses they need. One in five community college students was placed on waiting lists for classes in Fall 2012. Senate Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg has authored SB 520, which he says would help higher education students take these so-called “bottleneck courses” by making them available for full credit online. SB 520 authorizes the expansion of COERC to include the fifty lower division courses deemed most impacted; AB 520 also authorizes a group
Three problems “We have three problems with this idea. One is the process of writing this bill, which included no faculty expertise or student desires. Faculty in all three segments of public higher education in California have a wealth of experience with online education, but were not consulted,” says Jim Mahler, CCC president. On the other hand, Sebastian Thrun, the founder of Udacity, which offers dozens of Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs), was involved with crafting Steinberg’s bill. The latest fad among breathless conservative pundits, MOOCs are attended by thousands online, but have an average completion rate of under 10%. “The second problem is that SB 520 would mandate public/ private partnerships in offering
Won’t fix years of neglect Bob Samuels, a lecturer at UCLA and UC-AFT president, identifies another key issue:
Talking as experts A number of local Palomar faculty spoke, including Christine Moore, Adjunct Professor of History & Chicano Studies, who helped listeners understand the recent unprecedented events at the Vatican in her discourse, “The Historical
Significance of the First Latin American Pope.” Economics got frequent treatment in a number of presentations, from “China: The End of Hyper Growth?” to “US Energy and Climate Policy in a Globalized 21st Century World Economy.”
Studies of race and culture were also part of the agenda, including “Coping with Slavery: Slavery Music & Culture” and “W.E.B. Du Bois’ Notion of the Color Line, in Relation to the Emergence of the Harlem Renaissance.” “We want the series to be
It is clear that the state is using online courses as a way to avoid dealing with the chronic underfunding of all levels of education in California. As a priority of the company, the guidance counseling aspect of MyEdu may well be overshadowed by another part of the site, for employers. This section offers up the data from the student side of the site, advertising, “MyEdu for Employers Puts You Where the Students Are,” touting its “Millions of annual visitors,” “Students from over 800 institutions,” and “hundreds of thousands of rich student profiles.” Accessing, analyzing, and
Fred Glass photo
he Governor’s January budget proposal called for $16.9 million for a new community college online education effort, along with $10 million each for CSU and UC. These funds are meant to support the California Open Education Resources Council (COERC), established in 1999, which serves as a repository for online education resources.
“Senator Steinberg has assured us that this new program will not be a substitute for public funding of higher education, but it is clear that the state is using online courses as a way to avoid dealing with the chronic underfunding of all levels of education in California. Online education will not fix years of educational neglect.” CFT leaders and staff, along with coalition partners from labor, have been meeting with Senator Steinberg to express their concerns over SB 520. “We hope to work with Senator Steinberg to improve SB 520 and reshape its good intentions into something we can support,” says Dean Murakami, northern California CCC vice-president. But at the moment, CFT has an “oppose” position on the bill. By Fred Glass
“Palomar”, Continued from page 8
Public Education,” while Catalina Amuedo-Dorantes, Professor of Economics at San Diego State University, discussed another hot presentday topic, “Intended and Unintended Consequences of Increased Interior and Border Immigration Enforcement.”
representative of the intersection of politics and economics,” Laughlin says. “In community college we teach general education courses – we’re generalists – and the idea of the series is to see people talking as experts.” By David Bacon
P E R S P E C TI V E May 2013
Local Action Fred Glass photo
Around the state Prop 30 provides some breathing room in bargaining
In passing Proposition 30 last year the voters said one thing loud and clear. Most were interested in tax justice for wealthy people whose rates were unfairly low. But everyone understood that after billions of dollars in state budget reductions, cuts to public education had gone too far and needed to be reversed. CFT members and our allies—including the governor—also tried to be clear that the measure, bringing in around $6 billion per year, would not take care of all the state’s budget problems. Prop 30, it was estimated, would address about half the state’s ongoing structural deficit, created by the toxic mix of years of inadequate tax rates on the wealthy and corporations, Prop 13’s constitutional rule requiring a 2/3 vote in the state legislature to pass any tax increase, and the final insult, the Great Recession and steeply lowered state revenues. A recent report, “The Impact of Budget Cuts on California’s Community Colleges” [http:// www.ppic.org], found that between 2007-8 and 2011-12, the community college portion
Among the thousands of volunteers putting Prop 30 over the top were Peralta Federation of Teachers members Mustafa Popal (kneeling) and to his immediate right, Janell Hampton and Anna Roy. Also helping out the weekend before the election by holding up signs over a freeway were, from left, Bill Balderston, Steve Gilbert, Kendrick Lewallen, Kirsten Snow Spalding, Michelle Squitieri, and Joe Berry.
being spent. Prop 30 monies are supposed to bring back lost classes and services and restore lost jobs. Initial reports from community college bargaining tables around the state mostly support this picture. Here are some snapshots.
Los Angeles According to Joanne Waddell, president of AFT Local 1521, one immediate impact of Prop 30 was an additional allocation of $35 million to the Los Angeles Community College
Prop 30 monies are supposed to bring back lost classes and services and restore lost jobs. Initial reports from community college bargaining tables around the state mostly support this picture. District. As prescribed by Prop 30, the nine LACCD campuses submitted plans detailing how the money would be spent. The District will offer over 1500 additional sections in Winter 2013, Spring 2013, and Summer 2013 (ranging from an additional 85 sections on one campus to 250 sections on another campus over the three sessions). As a result of Prop 30 and the governor’s proposed budget allocation, bargaining will include serious negotiations about salary increases. For the first time since 2007 when COLA was an anemic 0.68%, both COLA and growth will be on the table. “Neither the anticipated 1.65% COLA nor the 2% growth will restore the loss of purchasing power faculty have experienced in the past six years, but we intend to make a start,” Waddell said.
Cabrillo AFT Local 4400 Executive Director Maya Bendotoff reports, “Without the additional revenue from Prop 30, Cabrillo would be looking at cuts of over 7% this year. This translates into the equivalent of losing space for 780 fulltime students; cutting one in thirteen classes; and eliminating five average size programs. Instead, we’re adding classes, and we’re not taking a pay cut.” Ventura In Ventura, negotiations have only just begun, but the atmosphere is completely different compared with last year. According to AFT Local 1828 president Steve Hall, “Instead of looking at reductions in base revenue, the District is looking at at least 4.5 million dollars in new revenue, which has really changed the whole dynamic of negotiations.” Last year, says Hall, “The District was talking about how many layoffs were
going to occur. This year, that discussion has been replaced by how much more revenue we will get, and how many classes we will add.”
Coast Dean Mancina, president of the Coast Federation of Educators, AFT Local 1911 in Orange County, says that his district had anticipated Prop 30 would fail (let’s hope the Coast administration’s analytic powers improve over time) and budgeted accordingly, with plans for layoffs, but now those layoffs will not occur. Better, but more needed It should be clear from this cursory survey that things are better. But as Peralta Federation of Teachers president Matthew Goldstein warns, “We’ve only stopped the bleeding. We still need to restore a lot of what we lost so that our students have a quality institution, and that will take more faculty political activism, more voter education, and more progressive taxes.” By Fred Glass
Politics and economics in speaker series
For two days in April each year, Palomar College presents Political Economy Days. The event gives students, faculty and community members the opportunity to hear expert speakers on topics ranging from economics, history and political science to anthropology, multicultural studies, philosophy, law and more. The series is organized by Peter Bowman and Teresa Laughlin of the Palomar Faculty Federation, AFT Local 6161. Bowman and now-retired member Loren Lee began the series six years ago, to present in-depth analyses that students might not otherwise have access to in community college. This year one featured speaker was Jim Miller, an instructor at San Diego City College and member of the AFT Guild, San Diego and Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community Colleges. Miller presented his documentation of the history of the Free Speech Movement in San Diego. During the period before World War I, the Industrial Workers of the World challenged the extreme anti-union hostility of the robber barons of southern California by speaking on street corner soapboxes, and then filling the jails after they were arrested en masse. Shannon Linehart, Professor of Mathematics and President of the Palomar Faculty Federation, brought labor and education struggle into the present with “The Privatization of Continued on page 7 Matt Estes photo
of the state budget lost more than a billion dollars. Prop 30 will restore less than a quarter of that cumulative loss this year. The governor and legislative leaders forgot what they knew during the campaign almost immediately afterwards, pledging to “go slow” on any new taxes. According to CFT president Joshua Pechthalt, “If we are to take any more steps toward adequate public education budgets in the near future, we will have to send a twofold message to the public that the gains from Prop 30 are helping, but we still have a long way to go.” The best proof for an electorate made cynical about how public monies are spent due to years of conservative anti-government, anti-tax propaganda (and occasionally by actual misspending!) is to show people exactly how their money is
Citrus College Bill Zeman, who leads AFT Local 6352, Citrus College adjuncts, in the Eastern San Gabriel Valley, said that “Prop 30 greatly benefited us.” The administration kept its promise to add 165 classes if Prop 30 passed. All the new classes went to adjuncts. “Many of us worked in the Winter intersession for the first time since the Panic of 2008. Instead of hiring a lot of new adjuncts, they filled up all of our schedules for the Spring,” said Zeman. “I just heard yesterday from my dean that many of us will have classes this summer also and full schedules probably in the fall.” And the students, he added, will have a much easier time getting classes.
Teresa Laughlin and Peter Bowman organized the “Political Economy Days” speaker series at Palomar College in April.