Volume 45, Number 1 October 2013 Community College Council of the California Federation of Teachers American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
Debra Stake’s scientific approach The daughter of an oil industry mechanic grew up a selfproclaimed “science nerd,” got a PhD in oceanography, and now leads the Cuesta College faculty union.
The ACA is here; now what?
The state of California launched its version of the Affordable Care Act on October 1 (called “Covered California” here), but many people have questions about its implementation. Here’s a place to begin.
Allan Hancock College gets parity funding, LA faculty get raise The impact of the Great Recession cut deeply into community college faculty compensation. With the passage of Prop 30, the first signs of a thaw on frozen wages and benefits are beginning to appear.
California Federation of Teachers 1330 Broadway, Suite 1601 Oakland, CA 94612
NON-PROFIT ORG US POSTAGE PAID PERMIT NO. 690 SACRAMENTO CA
CFT files suit against ACCJC to keep CCSF open
P E R S P E C TI V E October 2013
President’s Column Jim Mahler, CFT Community College Council President
Where We Stand
The California Federation of Teachers is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.
Fear and Loathing of the ACCJC
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
ver the summer those of us who work in and love the community colleges received terrible news. The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) is planning to pull the accreditation from City College of San Francisco (CCSF) in July of 2014. While we knew that ACCJC had put CCSF on notice, it was also clear that the campus leaders and community were doing everything they could to meet the demands of the accreditors. Hence, ACCJC’s unduly harsh measure was a shock felt across the state. As many people interested in higher education have been made painfully aware over the past few years, the ACCJC has spun out of control, issuing a record number of sanctions to community colleges throughout the state. Community colleges in California comprise 19% of community colleges accredited nationally, yet ACCJC sanctions represent 64% of all sanctions issued nationally. In other words, ACCJC is issuing sanctions at a rate over three times its counterpart agencies’ throughout the nation. Latter day Spanish Inquisition Instead of being a formative body to help ensure quality instruction, the ACCJC has turned into a modern day version of the Spanish Inquisition. Rather than focus on learning standards, ACCJC has issued sanctions to colleges for such “egregious” violations as “not enough administrators” and “not enough money in reserves” while seemingly not caring about whether learning is taking place in the classroom. We all realize that we need to continually evaluate our performance and do what we can to improve and meet changing student needs. This is what a productive
accreditation process would help us do. Sadly, what we have now is a secretive, undemocratic, top-down process that is promoting a mind-
ensure ACCJC does not itself become re-accredited by the Department of Education when its application for renewal is reviewed in December of this year. Eliminate the fear If we can all just hang on until then, we hope that the unnecessarily punitive sanctions imposed on CCSF can be rolled back and the generally unproductive climate of fear will be eliminated in
Rather than focus on learning standards, ACCJC has issued sanctions to colleges for such “egregious” violations as “not enough administrators” and “not enough money in reserves” while seemingly not caring about whether learning is taking place in the classroom. lessly technocratic vision of education at the expense of our profession and, most importantly, of the communities and students that we serve. We cannot let this stand. Fortunately, the CFT is fighting back. Over the summer we filed a 280 page complaint with the Department of Education outlining in great detail how the ACCJC is not fulfilling its stated mission. In August, we received our first bit of good news when the Department of Education found our complaint had merit and cited the ACCJC for being deficient in four areas. It is our intent to deploy all of our available resources to
California’s community college system. What we need is a system of accreditation that is free from conflicts of interest, transparent, fair, and actually useful in terms of promoting good teaching, learning, and collegiality.
You can help. For starters, you can take a resolution to your local academic senate seeking the changes we need to fix accreditation in California (see http://tinyurl. com/ACCJCSenRes ). But don’t stop there. Invite a speaker from the CCSF faculty to come to your campus for a forum or teach-in about the ACCJC and how it went off the rails. Engage your campus community in considering what other action steps might be taken to educate the public about the ACCJC, and to reverse the harmful effects it has imposed on the state’s community colleges over the past decade. Accreditation is too important to continue to be distorted by the zealots running the show at the ACCJC these days. If we stand up together, we can lift the fog of fear that has paralyzed too many faculty and administrators around the state. Action starts with discussion. Let’s discuss. And then let’s act.
MARK YOUR CALENDAR October 18-20
Council of Classified Employees annual conference, Costa Mesa
Community College Council, south TBA
January 11, 2014 CFT Statewide Committees, L.A. Valley College February 6 - 7
CFT Leadership Conference, north TBA
March 21 - 23
CFT Convention, Manhattan Beach
Cover: Student trustee Shanell Williams participated in the press conference on the steps of City Hall in San Francisco September 23 announcing the filing of CFT’s and AFT 2121’s lawsuit against ACCJC to keep CCSF open. CHRIS HANZO PHOTO
Perspective is published three times during the academic year by CFT’s Community College Council. COMMUNITY COLLEGE COUNCIL 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.
October 2013 P E R S P E C TIVE
Cuesta College’s Debra Stakes
The scientific approach to being union president ll my students say they can’t ‘do’ science,” says Debra Stakes, who teaches geology at Cuesta Community College, and started the oceanography course there. “At the beginning of the course they’re all very nervous, and that’s what they tell me when I ask them to identify their major concerns. So it’s a challenge. I tell them that science doesn’t have to be intimidating, that it’s grounded in human curiosity and is a natural part of who we are. And at the end of the course, I predict, going to the beach will never be the same for them.” This explanation says important things about Stakes. She listens to people, including her students. She’s very connected to the natural world, and can convey her deep feelings about it to others. And she expects to change their lives. Stakes uses diverse materials, and describes her approach as halfway between the traditional one of the instructor as lecturer in front of students, and the interactive classroom where students get all their content online. “I do take time to explain complex concepts,” she says, “but we also spend a lot of doing small group work. Students invariably say at the end of the course they want more of it. And I use a lot of visual materials, which I ask them to use even before they begin reading the text.” The beach connection? The geology of San Luis Obispo County is a perfect place for her, she says, because it is an area where the tectonic plate of the ocean floor is being pushed up onto land. The famous Morro Rock is just one product of this enormous shift in the earth’s crust. “As a result,” she says, “I can take my students out to the beach, show them the rocks, and explain to them that they were once part of the ocean floor.”
Science background helpful Today Stakes is the incoming president of the Cuesta College Federation of Teachers. She believes her background in science, both as a teacher and researcher, and making complex ideas accessible to students, will help her. “My scientific background has given me an ability to distinguish facts and data from assumptions. I am very pragmatic and solving problems is my forte.” That quality was evident growing up in Beaumont, Texas, heart of the state’s huge oil industry. Her father was a
mechanic, maintaining gauges and valves in refineries and out on the offshore platforms. “I thought my dad was superhuman,” she laughs. “I was a science nerd, and a member of the science team in high school,” she continues. Originally her interest was chemistry, but when she went to college, at Rice University in Houston, “I noticed that all of the chemists were pale and looked really unhealthy. But when I looked at the geologists, they were all tanned and looked really great. So I guess I made a lifestyle choice.”
Few women oceanographers Very few women were oceanographers in those days, but “I never listened to anyone who said I couldn’t do something.” Stakes got her doctorate in oceanography at Oregon State, and then went to Oman to do post-doctorate work, studying the ocean crust in an area remarkably similar to San Luis Obispo. As a field researcher, she used a three-person submarine, called ALBIN. It was in her dives in the western Pacific that she met the ALBIN pilot who she eventually married. She got a faculty job at the University of South Carolina, and worked there eight years. But the year when they finally offered her tenure her husband was offered a job in Monterey. So she turned down tenure. Instead, she found work that would last the next 13 years, at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Finally, though, she rediscovered her love for teaching, and left MBARI for part-time positions at California State University at Monterey Bay, and Monterey Peninsula College. Just as the disadvantages of being a freeway flyer became clear, however, and she discovered there were no permanent full
time jobs at either place, she received a postcard. “I have no idea how I got it,” she recalls, “but Cuesta asked me to apply for the job I have today. And of course I took it.”
Global warming and her career At Cuesta, in addition to her academic work, she also became interested in the union. “Very early in my career,” she says, “I was very politically active in state politics in South Carolina. I became a political organizer for the Sierra Club—almost a second career. In many ways it flowed out of the teaching I was doing, where in class we debated the importance of global warming. In South Carolina, the impact of warmer oceans, rising seas and the increasing frequency of hurricanes is not just an academic discussion. But it was made clear to me that this activity was prejudicing my career at the university.” Nevertheless, she still has a Hilary Clinton bumper sticker on her car, along with another that says “Madame President.” “I love politics, and I’ve had to discipline myself not to have it take over my entire life.” When she got to Cuesta,
PHOTO COURTESY OF DEBRA STAKES
Geology instructor Debra Stakes served as chair of her local’s COPE committee before ascending to the union’s presidency.
30. “That was an important experience for us,” she explains, “because they had to not only explain why 30 was important, but why 32 was a bad idea, which meant explaining also why unions are important.”
“I want the board to understand the faculty point of view. We’re part of the college too, and we don’t want to have to stand up at the eleventh hour as an adversary to get what we need. They can’t use faculty salaries as a piggy bank.” political activity became an opportunity again. “I was very interested in what the union was doing,” she recalls, “and in the history of unions in general. I knew the importance of people coming together, and finding a collective voice.” She became representative of her division, and then chair of the COPE committee in the local.
Door to door for Prop 30 In the 2012 election she had a chance to use her political skills, helping to mobilize members to walk door to door for Prop
The work had an impact. In San Luis Obispo County, which normally votes Republican, Prop 30 got a majority. “I’m really proud of our faculty,” she says. Then when the CCFT’s President Alison Merzon decided not to seek reelection, Stakes decided to run, and was elected without opposition. The most important issues for the near future, she says, include building on the good relationship established with other unions in the course of the election campaign. In the spring, the union is discussing a possible general obligation bond for the
college, to make it fiscally stable. Stability is a key question because Cuesta College has been sanctioned for several years by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges. “We’re just one step away from getting out from under this, and that has to be one of our major goals,” she explains. Economic improvements for faculty should come with the Prop. 30 funding increase, as well as a possible bond issue. “I want the board to understand the faculty point of view,” she emphasizes. “We’re part of the college too, and we don’t want to have to stand up at the eleventh hour as an adversary to get what we need. They can’t use faculty salaries as a piggy bank. We want, need and deserve a salary enhancement plan to get us out of the income basement for California community colleges, which is where we are by comparison with other districts.” Cuesta also has a large percentage of part-time instructors, and some of them are a core group of long-term faculty. “I’m committed to protecting them as much as possible.”
P E R S P E C TI V E October 2013
CFT files suit against ACCJC amidst growing pushback
Standing up for real accreditation D
But after years during which ACCJC had things its own way—intimidating college administrators and faculty instead of working collaboratively, sanctioning colleges out of all proportion to other accrediting regions, diverting scarce educational resources and funding to “compliance,” and blowing off any criticisms of the damage it was inflicting on collegial relations—the tide is now shifting. Public exposure by the CFT of the ACCJC’s practices and motivations has pierced its customary lack of transparency and generated pushback from a growing array of forces against the out-of-control agency. The ACCJC is now facing multiple lawsuits and possible “delisting” by the U.S. Department of Education (DoE), in addition to a state audit. Critical letters and angry public statements from elected officials are sailing around the ears of the ACCJC’s leaders. Media coverage of the story is changing as reporters are digging deeper, questioning ACCJC’s justifications for its actions. None of this comes a moment too soon.
The purpose of accreditation Accreditation should ensure that an educational institution meets acceptable standards, the public can trust the quality of the educational experience, units are transferable, and students are eligible for financial aid. Accrediting agencies can—and should—impose sanctions on colleges when significant problems that threaten the integrity of the educational experience need fixing. But before that moment arrives, the college and the agency should work together with mutual trust and respect to resolve the problem and prevent any sanction from occurring. Above all, accreditation should ensure the uninterrupted delivery of quality public education to all students who want and need it. A decade ago, the count of ACCJC’s colleges under sanction began to climb and diverge sharply from the norm elsewhere in the country.
CHRIS HANZO PHOTO
uring the Vietnam War an American officer famously explained, “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” Apparently this was the approach embraced by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) in its shocking decision in July to terminate the accreditation of City College of San Francisco (CCSF). Today, more than one in five of California’s community colleges are sanctioned. No other regional accrediting agency comes close to this punitive record. ACCJC is sanctioning colleges at a rate 400 to 700% higher than its brethren. Do California’s community colleges compare that badly with their counterparts? Hardly. Rather, this is what happens when a rogue private agency with no transparency and a big “reform” agenda goes on a rampage.
Premier access point California’s 112 community colleges are known as the nation’s premier access point to public higher education. Revered by surrounding communities, they supply more trained workers to local businesses than any other source, and enable millions of students to achieve educational and career goals. California ranks third among the states in the percentage of four-year degree holders previously enrolled at community colleges. Thanks to their
When CFT and AFT Local 2121 held a press conference to announce filing a lawsuit against the ACCJC seeking an injunction to keep CCSF open, the event attracted the support of San Francisco Supervisor David Campos (between student trustee Shanell Williams, left, and CFT president Joshua Pechthalt, speaking at mic), and Supervisor Scott Weiner (to right of Alisa Messer). Not shown is Assemblymember Tom Ammiano, who prefaced his remarks with “Now presenting an Emmy for “Breaking Bad” to Barbara Beno!”
record doesn’t even take into account its deep roots in community service through noncredit programs such as ESL. And a recent study of CCSF’s economic impact found that it contributes more than $300 million per year to the city’s economic activities. Yet in 2012 the ACCJC, in an historically unprecedented
In his statements before the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, referring to ACCJC president Barbara Beno, State Senator Nielsen bluntly stated, “In all my career, in my thousands of meetings with agency individuals—representatives, secretaries, etc.—I have never dealt with a more arrogant, condescending and dismissive individual.” affordability, California is also 46th lowest in student debt rates. CCSF is no exception to this record of success. It is above average in the community college system in such important markers of student success as overall student completion rates (top sixth), transfer velocity to four year colleges, completion rate for academically needy students, and grade point average for CSU students who came from community colleges. This
move, jumped CCSF from fully accredited to “show cause,” the highest sanction short of dis-accreditation. This year, ignoring progress, the ACCJC exercised the nuclear option, pulling the plug as of July 2014. If City College closes, where will its 85,000, largely working class students of color, go? Their most likely option is to enroll in far more expensive private colleges, with a track record of far less successful outcomes
and enormous student debt. In justifying its action, the ACCJC referred to CCSF’s failure to address “deficiencies” identified in 2006. Most were related to poor fiscal administration, deteriorating infrastructure due to deferred maintenance, and too few administrators— problems already identified by another state agency, the Fiscal Crisis and Management Assistance Team, or FICMAT. None had to do with the quality of education offered at CCSF. However, listen closely: “deficiencies,” in accreditation-speak, are not the same as “recommendations.” ACCJC made recommendations in 2006 while fully reaccrediting CCSF. In misrepresenting its earlier actions, in 2012 ACCJC violated its own policies and federal law. Following this linguistic shell game, the college was thrown into turmoil. Thousands of students left, fearing they would not receive course credit, or might lose financial aid eligibility. Two hundred faculty lost their positions, as did scores of support staff.
Wildly inconsistent application of standards Throughout its sanction binge, the ACCJC has been wildly inconsistent in applying standards; colleges with worse student success measures than CCSF, and equally dire finances,
have been reaccredited. CCSF failed to meet, or only partially met, nine of eleven Standards identified by the Commission, which sounds bad. But consider that of the 21 colleges placed by ACCJC on “Warning” (the lowest sanction level) over the past four years, two failed all eleven standards, and eight others failed nine standards—the same number as CCSF. Ten colleges in the same period were placed on “Probation.” One failed all eleven standards, one failed ten, one failed eight. None of these had the boom lowered on their accreditation. What’s going on here? After an exhaustive review of ACCJC practices, the California Federation of Teachers filed a 280-page, highly detailed complaint on April 30 with the ACCJC and the DoE, which oversees ACCJC. The complaint shows ACCJC fails to follow its own policies, is riddled with conflicts of interest, and has violated numerous laws. The ACCJC’s response? A seven page letter denying (or ignoring) everything. It also passed a new policy allowing it to shred its own accreditation review documents. This occurred at its biannual three-day meeting in June, held at a San Francisco airport hotel. In a remarkable display of tone-deafness, the Commission surrounded the
October 2013 P E R S P E C TIVE
ACCREDITATION meeting with armed guards and police barricades. It also arbitrarily limited attendance during the four-hour public portion of the meeting to twenty people, turning away at least twice that many at the door, including community college faculty, administrators, and students. Among those left stewing outside the meeting were a Univision reporter and the higher education reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, who has been covering the story of CCSF’s accreditation woes for more than a year. She said she had received advance permission to attend the meeting from ACCJC staff. The article she ended up writing was about being locked outside the meeting.
Bad month for ACCJC Perhaps that was foreshadowing, as the month of August did not go well for ACCJC. On August 13, the DoE issued a letter to ACCJC president Barbara Beno that agreed with CFT on several key points, ordering the agency to fix four violations of accrediting standards or face its own termination. These included: the apparent conflict of interest by Beno in appointing her husband to the CCSF site visit team; the failure to field accreditation review teams balanced fairly between administrators and faculty; and failure to distinguish clearly between “recommendations” and “deficiencies.” A week later, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera
initiated legal action against the ACCJC. Seeking to overturn the de-accreditation of City College, he charged that “the private agency unlawfully allowed its advocacy and political bias to prejudice its evaluation of college accreditation standards.” Many observers, CFT included, think CCSF was punished by ACCJC for opposing reform legislation that sought to restrict the current broad community college mission to a narrower “transfer” function. That legislation was vocally supported by ACCJC in 2011-12. Herrera further noted, “There are very good reasons why judges should not be advocates. And why advocates should not be judges. The evidence is compelling in the civil complaint I’ve filed in San Francisco Superior Court this morning that the ACCJC did both. In doing so, accreditors acted improperly to withdraw accreditation.” The City Attorney also filed a legal challenge with the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, saying that, “the Board of Governors improperly ceded its public duties to a wholly unaccountable private entity in the ACCJC.”
Audit request granted Next, on August 21, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee approved a request by state senators Jim Beall and Jim Nielsen to audit ACCJC. The audit will examine a number of issues related to accreditation at three
community colleges, two of which are currently sanctioned, including the financial costs of accreditation, ACCJC-style, to the colleges. Completion of the audit is expected next year. Nielsen, a Republican, represents California’s huge 4th District, which runs from just north of Sacramento to the Oregon border up through the center of the state. In his statements before the Audit Committee, referring to ACCJC president Barbara Beno, Nielsen bluntly stated, “In all my career, in my thousands of meetings with agency individuals—representatives, secretaries, etc.—I have never dealt with a more arrogant, condescending and dismissive individual.” The tides of opinion continued their shift against ACCJC in September. CFT, AFT Local 2121, and other individual plaintiffs filed suit against the ACCJC on the 24th of that month. The CFT’s suit is broader than Herrera’s. The lawsuit seeks an injunction to halt the closure of City College, and a reversal of both the “show cause” and dis-accreditation decisions, since they occurred in the context of multiple violations of policy and law. CFT leadership hopes that the injunction request will be heard in court within four to six weeks. CFT’s suit incorporates most of the elements of the CFT’s April 30 complaint, as well as amendments from a separate third party comment submitted by CFT in September, intervening in ACCJC’s own CHRIS HANZO PHOTO
Students, faculty, and community supporters march through downtown San Francisco in protest of the ACCJC’s decision in July to disaccredit the college.
accreditation review process. (The ACCJC, like all accrediting agencies, is licensed by the US DoE, and must undergo periodic review and renewal.) The CFT’s comment makes the case for delisting (pulling the accreditation) of the ACCJC. Another damning third party comment was delivered by the League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) on September 10. It documented the effort by Beno and the Commission to punish an entire community college district (Ventura) for the actions of one Board of Trustees member with whom they disagreed. The letter noted that Beno and the ACCJC attempted to intimidate the Board of Trustees into isolating the outspoken member, who was advocating on behalf of preserving programs in the college with the highest percentage of Latinos in the District. LULAC pointed out that with 38% of the community college student body in California, Latinos are disproportionately affected by obstacles to access to higher education.
Not so bland and neutral All of this controversy beginning to swirl around what would normally be a bland, neutral administrative education agency going about its quiet tasks in support of public education has drawn the attention of a growing number of elected officials. A September 6 letter sent by Congressmembers Jackie Speier and Anna Eshoo to the DoE raised concerns about the ACCJC’s disproportionate sanction rates and secrecy.
In a September 17 letter to ACCJC Chair Sherrill Amador, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson politely but firmly urged, “Given the recent United States Department of Education findings that the City College of San Francisco accreditation review process was flawed, I encourage the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges to rescind the college’s show cause sanction.” And at the press conference announcing CFT’s lawsuit, held on the steps of San Francisco’s City Hall, Assemblymember Tom Ammiano said, “The blatant lack of transparency, loose interpretation of the rules, seen through a lens of hubris and elitism, cannot continue. San Francisco is our backyard and the college is our treasure. You don’t destroy the village to save it.” Accreditation review should result in improved instruction and increased access to education. The opposite, with a vengeance, is occurring today. The City College closure is but the most egregious case of ACCJC overreach. That ruling should be rescinded, and the U.S. Department of Education should pull the ACCJC’s authority, giving it to an agency that cares less about ideological missions and more about public education and the rule of law. by Fred Glass For more information and to stay up to date on the struggle to keep CCSF open, and for a sane accreditation process, go to aft2121.org, cft.org, and accreditationwatch.com
P E R S P E C TI V E October 2013
Legislative Update Mónica Henestroza, CFT Legislative Director
he first year of the two-year state legislative session came to a close in mid-September. CFT enjoyed success this year on key issues impacting community colleges; but there is still much work ahead.
CFT played a pivotal role in stopping, at least for this year, several measures that would have undermined quality education and the work of educators at community colleges. The first bill to go down was AB 806 (Wilk, R- Santa Clarita). This
front, combined with grassroots lobbying by CFT membership, was essential to stopping legislation that threatened to expand mass online learning: SB 520 (Steinberg, D- Sacramento). In the case of SB 173 (Liu, D-La Cañada Flintridge), legislation
Our continued success in the future will depend on maintaing our strong coalitions, and most importantly, continuing and expanding the strong grassroots activism and local lobbying efforts that had such a
From adversity to coalition Adversity led CFT to join together with other organizations in powerful, new ways this year. Most notably, CFT helped convene a labor/faculty coalition across all three public higher education segments. This powerful united
Not without complications Negotiations were not without complications, however. On June 27, the state announced there was a discrepancy in the money going to local bodies because of the dissolution of local redevelopment agencies—an earlier budget-balancing move by the governor. So the State pulled back $22 million that the district had been counting on, and the district was concerned that there was less money available. There are still differing estimates of how much local bodies should get, from $10 million by the Department of Finance to $190 million by the State Chancellor’s Office.
Because of growth, RDA money, and Prop 30 funds, the district had a healthy ending balance, which the union said should be spent on a salary increase beyond COLA because Los Angeles’ faculty rank in the lowest one-third of faculty statewide. “We had really fallen behind by about 18% over the last five years,” Waddell says. Negotiations of the wage reopener started in March after the victory of Proposition 30 last November. “For five months the district stalled,” Ornelas charges. Then, in the middle of negotiations there were board elections, and two new members came on, along with a new interim chancellor.
that working class students currently enrolled in community colleges will be priced out of this new echelon of courses. In other words, these courses will be limited to Californians with greater means. California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris has played an important role, speaking out strongly and publicly against the creation of a two-tier system. We are working closely with him, as well as students and other opponents, in efforts to convince Gov. Brown to veto this misguided legislation. CFT will be taking the next few months during the legislative break to develop strategies to move legislation next year to benefit part-time faculty and also move districts toward hiring more full-time faculty.
In addition, CFT has been engaging early in the 201415 state budget development process. We have been working closely with the state Chancellor’s office on the system request and already started weighing in with the Governor’s administration on potential fiscal policy proposals for the January budget. As CFT prepares for 2014 legislative work, it is clear our continued success in the future will depend on maintaing our strong coalitions, and most importantly, continuing and hopefully even expanding the strong grassroots activism and local lobbying efforts that had such a tremendous impact this year. Thank you for the privilege and honor of working with you to advance CFT’s community college policy priorities.
“The tone completely changed,” she says.
far behind while faculty have to do more every year.” Waddell predicts that the next round of negotiations will be much more difficult, however. “The administration is very nervous about the economy and budgeting, and with the clock ticking on Proposition 30, they’re uneasy about making long term commitments, which is what we need.” Nevertheless, when the two announced the settlement in membership meetings at the district’s nine campuses, faculty applauded. No wonder.
HUCK-KONOPACKI LABOR CARTOONS
to eliminate state funding for four areas of K-12 adult education and community college noncredit, CFT partnered with the Community College League of California, community college districts, and several community groups. Our joint Lobby Day and follow-up lobby visits proved immensely successful, and the author agreed to make SB 173 a two-year bill when it became clear there were not sufficient votes for passage in the Assembly Higher Education
A two-tier system As The Perspective goes to press, AB 955 (Williams, D-Santa Barbara) is on Gov. Brown’s desk and awaiting his action before the October 13 deadline. AB 955 authorizes student fees for certain community college courses to skyrocket. By raising student fees so dramatically, AB 955 will effectively deny equal, open access to the working class Californians who depend most on our community colleges for public higher education and social mobility. Given that approximately 70% of community college students are eligible for a Board of Governor’s fee waiver, it is widely expected
tremendous impact this year. measure to allow community college administrators to direct less than 50% of funds to student instruction was defeated in the first fiscal committee in May.
Committee. CFT joined forces again with the League, as well as the state Chancellor’s office and other stakeholder groups, to extend legislative authorization to backfill redevelopment funds promised to community colleges in the 2012-13 fiscal year. SB 97 (Committee on Budget & Fiscal Review) includes this budgetary authorization and solves the immediate problem. We did not score a victory on all fronts, however. As happened last year, CFT’s sponsored legislation on full-time faculty overload stalled in the Senate Appropriations Committee in August. While this is disappointing news, the efforts of our members who testified, wrote letters of support and made phone calls are much appreciated.
Los Angeles, Continued from page 8
to alter our salary schedule, as some districts did. However, faculty lost income through workload reductions, which hit adjuncts hardest.” On August 25, the Faculty Guild signed a settlement with the first raise in six years, one of the first raises beyond COLA negotiated in any California community college since the passage of Proposition 30. The total of 3% comprises 1.57% COLA plus an additional 1.43%. “That came about because the district was very conservative in budgeting for health benefits, leading to a savings of $8 million,” explains Chief Negotiator Armida Ornelas, a professor at East Los Angeles College. “The rest of the money came from Prop 30.”
Clock ticking on Prop 30 When the district understood that, despite the argument over the discrepancy, it would get some Proposition 98 money restored, it was open to budgeting a salary increase beyond the COLA. “They didn’t want to be the first to do this,” Ornelas says, “but 3% seemed pretty safe to them. We weren’t extreme. Our long-term goal is to go up 11%, which would get us into the top one-third, and in order to start we had to go beyond the COLA. But what we wanted seemed reasonable, given our arguments that we’d fallen so
By David Bacon
October 2013 P E R S P E C TIVE
Affordable Care Act
Enroll now for health insurance through Covered California Of Special Note for Part-Time Faculty
on’t be surprised when you receive an announcement from your employer during the beginning of October announcing the launch of the Affordable Care Act, called “Covered California” in our state. Employers are required to notify all employees that they may enroll in a health care exchange. This is a mandated announcement and does not mean that current medical insurance coverage you may have through your employer will be suspended or replaced. If you are uninsured, work part-time, or your hours of employment have been reduced, Covered California may provide you the option to purchase reduced-rate health insurance. The initial open enrollment period begins October 1 and lasts six months.
Key dates for enrollment October 1, 2013 Initial open enrollment opens. October 1, 2013 Employers must notify employees that they may enroll in an exchange.
December 7, 2013 The last day to enroll to ensure that your health insurance coverage will begin on January 1, 2014. If you enroll after December 7, the effective date will be delayed until February 1, and enrollment after January 7 delays coverage until March 1. March 31, 2014 Initial open enrollment ends. October-December in subsequent years Open enrollment.
Terminology and tips Exchange: An exchange is where you enroll for the Affordable Care Act and choose among health insurance plan options. These will soon be renamed “marketplaces.” Navigator: A California trained and certified professional who will be available to assist
you, determine your eligibility and possible subsidies you may receive. You can reach a navigator by calling the toll-free number, 888-975-1142. About enrolling online: The state-sanctioned website, coveredca.com, will be mentioned in the notification letter you receive from your employer. This is very important — coveredca.com is the only state-sanctioned site. Even though the name of the California program is “Covered California” — the website by that name is a copycat site and is not statesanctioned. Always go to coveredca.com. Enrollment preparation: It may take you about a half hour to enroll online. Have key employment documents (W2 statement and paystubs) and personal information (Social Security number) close at hand so you can provide the information requested. By CFT Staff
Learn more about Covered California Covered California is our state component of the federal Affordable Care Act. If you are uninsured or work part-time, Covered California may provide you the option to purchase reduced-rate health insurance. Call toll-free: 888-975-1142 Go to the state-sanctioned website:
Why Public Higher Education Should Be Free: How to Decrease Cost and Increase Quality at American Universities by Robert Samuels, Rutgers, 178 pgs., $ 22.95
lmost nobody reporting on the genuinely scary anti-union, anti-teacher, privatizing, for-profit and online “education reforms” characterizes them as radical. But I’ll bet mainstream reviewers will lay that provocative, if often useful adjective on a new book by UC-AFT president Robert Samuels. In Why Public Higher Education Should Be Free, Samuels follows where the money goes, and why. His focus is on four-year institutions but it’s an analysis applicable to community colleges. In this accessible and thoughtful primer, Samuels, who studied the UC system (as an adjunct professor there he knows it well), explains who profits from the current setup, and how that leads to both funding cuts and higher tuition. He cares most about students, who pay too much tuition and yet often buy into this scheme, and about quality instruction—a truly radical idea. Of course, “instruction” Unlike administrators and othmeans salaries, benefits, and ers who’ve constructed ways viable working conditions to work the system, faculty is in classrooms for instructors. marginalized, with regressive
“two-tier” programs already happening or in the works for both students and their instructors. That hasn’t happened to administrators, deans, or the managerial class. The part-timerization of education and pay-to-play schemes ape the corporate model, and are similarly, if invisibly, subsidized through indirect funding, tax breaks for wealthy families, and a system that just misses the point. In the chapter “Where the Money Goes at Research Universities, and Why Students Don’t Complain,” Samuels
reminds us that universities exploit grad students as grateful low-cost teaching labor, enrolling them in PhD programs where they secure degrees in subjects most will never actually teach full-time, dragooned into the low-wage army of adjuncts. Samuels’ proposal is only as radical as reviewing the numbers and re-imagining. His subtitle, How to Decrease Cost and Increase Quality at American Universities hints at the answer detailed in Chapter 9, “Making All Public Higher Education Free,” through reorganizing the
self-serving current funding formula. Radical? Only if you don’t see how radically wrong the current system is. Reviewed by Andrew Tonkovich, president, UC-AFT Local 2226
P E R S P E C TI V E October 2013
Local Action PHOTO COURTESY OF MARK MILLER
Allan Hancock College Union gets parity funding onto the salary schedule Mark Miller, president of the Allan Hancock College PartTime Faculty Association, AFT Local 6185, calls the agreement the union recently reached with the district the culmination of a ten-year battle. “Our biggest accomplishment was that we finally got state parity funding on our salary schedule,” he says. “In the past, the district said this was out of the question, since the state could take the money back and the district would have to pay for this out of its own pocket.” The agreement, and his analysis of the union’s achievement, reflect a better relationship with the district than in the past. While negotiations this time were lengthy, it wasn’t necessary for union members to engage in the kind of demonstrative actions they’ve had to do previously. “We’ve succeeded in making the district aware of how important part-time instructors
Left, Allan Hancock College’s chief negotiator (and HR director) Cyndi Mesaros, with Mark Miller, president of the Allan Hancock College Part-Time Faculty Association, AFT Local 6185. The district and union negotiated improvements to the contract for part-time faculty.
we achieved an approximately 10.4% increase for credit-lecture instructors, and 4% for all the other salary schedules.” In addition, the union won a 30% increase in pay for office hours. Five new columns were added to the non-credit salary schedule, both for teaching and non-teaching. The new columns recognize advanced degrees for non-credit faculty. Previously there were two columns for non-credit
“We’ve educated the district about how hard our members work. Many have other jobs, work paycheck to paycheck, and feel exploited. Finally it seems the district is willing to do something about this, to change conditions, and that’s reflected in what we settled for this time.” are,” Miller explains. “We’ve educated the district about how hard our members work. Many have other jobs, work paycheck to paycheck, and feel exploited. Finally it seems the district is willing to do something about this, to change conditions, and that’s reflected in what we settled for this time.”
New funds from Prop 30 By placing state parity funds on the salary schedule, the union won an historic change in the district’s approach. “The funds were cut by former Governor Schwarzenegger,” he says, “and the district has always balked at this, and insisted on creating a “shadow schedule” in which the parity funds were an addition to the ordinary hourly rate. However, this year we prevailed. Combined with COLA and the Prop 30 restoration funds,
teaching, one for a bachelor’s degree and higher, and one for instructors without a B.A. but with the requisite experience. For non-credit non-instruction, there was simply one column for all. Now there are columns for a Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Ph.D. Seniority rights were strengthened for part-time counselors, and the evaluation process for all members of the bargaining unit was improved. The union at Allan Hancock College, in Santa Maria, covers 450 part-time instructors. Because of the new funds coming from Proposition 30, Miller anticipates the union will grow to 500. “They’re adding more sections, which are typically taught by parttimers, and we’re already getting requests from HR for new hire packets,” he says. By David Bacon
Victor Valley “Our David to their Goliath” A growing number of community colleges in California have accused the Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of using an opaque and unfair process to penalize colleges. At Victor Valley the incestuous relationship between the ACCJC teams and college administrations reached new levels. According to Lynne Glickstein, president of the AFT Part-Time Faculty Federation at Victor Valley College, AFT Local 6286, “Our most recent story began when Christopher O’Hearn chaired the visiting ACCJC team in 2005.” A long-time community college administrator, O’Hearn was serving at the time as President of Mt. San Antonio Community College. At first O’Hearn recommended improvements. Then, in January 2006, he rejected the college’s progress report. “Obviously, he forgot the glowing report he previously made personally to President Spencer,” Glickstein recalls. In January of 2008 ACCJC put Victor Valley College on “warning.” Then the college hired him as a consultant. And in July 2008, O’Hearn was appointed interim deputy superintendent and accreditation liaison officer. The following February, 2009, Victor Valley was removed from warning status. In March of the following year, Christopher O’Hearn became the college’s interim president, and in April of 2011 the Board of Trustees appointed him to a two-year term. But any idea that this insulated the college
from sanctions was based on poor premises, because that June the commission put the college on “probation.”
Difficult negotiations Meanwhile the union was having great difficulty negotiating a contract with the district. “By then we had changed from a hybrid style of bargaining, which was in place when I was added to the team, to a traditional approach,” Glickstein says. Until then, she recalls, “we sat at the table and the first thing we were forced to endure was each person telling the others about their weekends and vacations. We had to put a stop to this style. It was getting us nowhere, at a painfully slow speed. We did reach agreement on some tentative proposals on some very benign issues, but our contract expiration date came and went, with no urgency from the district. Wages and benefits remained stagnant. Time after time our negotiation dates were canceled and great periods of time elapsed between them.” When the union asked for raises, the district claimed it had no money and challenged the union to find some. “So we asked for documents relating to all wages, and scrutinized the 311 report the district provided to the state,” Glickstein recalls. “We asked more questions. Not that we received answers mind you, but we were making inroads and making the district uncomfortable. They even employed a law firm to lead their negotiations.” Member action The union’s negotiation tactics were paired with member action. “We began a campaign of speaking at Board of Trustee meetings. We exposed the college’s failure to remove ACCJC sanctions, while paying enormous sums to those who promised (unsuccessfully) to get us out of the hole. All the while this district was claiming it had no money for increases to adjunct salaries.” Finally, in December of 2012, John Reid, then the president of Local 6286, announced that the union executive board had taken a no-confidence vote in President O’Hearn. The Board of Trustees voted 4-1 not to renew his contract, and when it expired without renewal he finally left the district. “Our efforts succeeded,” Glickstein says. But, she said, “The trustees have been squarely divided into two camps, putting the
college into a holding pattern, with no movement in negotiations.” A special board meeting was held to fill a board vacancy. “We applauded and celebrated as hopefully the stalemate was over. We are thrilled with the appointment of the new Trustee, but this fight isn’t over by a long shot. The community coalition that joined in getting rid of O’Hearn was a very mixed group, including past educators, past city council members, a past college president, business leaders, retired military, and many who were not necessarily union-friendly.” Getting the contract settled will therefore still be a challenge, and the union just filed a demand to bargain over the district’s unilateral extension of classroom hours without bargaining or compensation. “I regret to say we are at impasse now in our negotiations,” Glickstein reports, “because we wouldn’t be party to their inaction and bad faith tactics. But we’ve had very active participation and planning by AFT members. I believe our union is so much stronger for tackling these issues head on. We are the David to their Goliath.” By David Bacon
Los Angeles Faculty Guild negotiates a raise beyond COLA The last raise in salary received by any of the 4200 members of the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild, AFT 1521, was in 2008 – a miniscule .068%. “That was just COLA,” remembers Joanne Waddell, Faculty Guild president. “This Labor Day I was talking with one of our newer members, who has been teaching here for four years. I was explaining that we had just negotiated a 3% increase, including 1.57% COLA. The last time we got COLA was before he was hired, so he asked me to explain what a “COLA” is.” For five years, Waddell says, the district and union met for annual salary reopeners. “The meetings would last for just five minutes – there was no money available,” she recalls. “But we were better off than many districts. Although there were no summer or winter intersessions and fewer hourly rate assignments, at least we didn’t have Continued on page 6