Volume 42, Number 2 February 2011 Community College Council of the California Federation of Teachers American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO
An Olympian in the classroom No, it’s not a metaphor. This Reedley College professor competed in the quadrennial world competition of the best. Now she’s a union leader.
“Completion by design”
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is widening its gaze from K-12 charter schools to community colleges. What is it after?
Marching to a different BEAT A new San Diego City College intern program brings students together in the political process.
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State budget proposal imperils community colleges Page 4
P E R S P E C TI V E February 2011
Taking the lead Carl Friedlander, CFT Community College Council President
Some questions and answers about CCC-CCA merger
hree years ago the officers of CTA’s Community College Association (CCA) contacted me to suggest that we get together to explore the idea of unifying CCA with our Community College Council. The idea was to create a single community college constituency organization (referred to here as the Newly Merged Organization, or NMO) where everybody would be affiliated with CFT, AFT, CTA, NEA and the AFL-CIO. About two years ago, these conversations between CCC and CCA officers evolved into regular formal meetings involving representatives of the state and national affiliates from both sides and including a formula-funded staff person and a representative of CFT’s Field Representatives Union (FRU). The issues have been complicated and the pace of progress has sometimes seemed glacial, but we’ve resolved a lot of tough issues and now have a framework that locals can look at, discuss and assess. In about a year, CCC, our locals, and the 2012 CFT Convention will need to decide whether to approve the new merged structure or continue with the status quo. The following are answers to some Frequently Asked Questions about merger: Will the everyday functioning of my local change if CCC-CCA merger takes place? There will be no change in bargaining representation or contracts. Operations at the local level will remain the same and servicing by CFT field representatives and/or formula-funded staff will not change. (Locals, if they choose to, can, in collaboration with CFT and CTA, work out new servicing arrangements.) How will per capitas change as a result of the merger? State and national per capi-
tas will not change, but a $60 annual per capita for fulltime faculty ($30 for parttime faculty) to fund NMO staff and operations will be phased in over three years. How will NMO governance differ from CCC governance? CCC currently meets three times a year (plus a shorter meeting at Convention) and has no board. NMO will have an annual delegate assembly, an elected board (with committee structure) that meets at least four times per year, and a Council of Local Presidents (which meets at least twice a year and, like CCC, holds meetings open to other local leaders and staff). What are some of the major advantages of merger? The voice of community college employees would be unified in Sacramento and have more strength and power behind it. That voice would also be significantly amplified within CTA (where NMO would become the largest single affiliate). NMO locals would have access to the membership list and political expertise and outreach of both state affiliates during local trustee, parcel tax and bond elections. NMO would have its own PAC. For community college employees, NMO would provide a statewide structure with which to thoughtfully process policy questions, formulate a legislative program, and develop and implement a comprehensive community college agenda. In addition to CFT and CTA staff and muscle, NMO would have a small specialized staff to help implement this agenda in Sacramento. Individual NMO members would have opportunities to participate in the training, conferences, conventions and member benefit programs of both state (CFT, CTA) and national (AFT, NEA) affiliate organizations (with funding provided on the CTA/NEA side). Participation of locals and members in NMO activities would
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 Marty Hittelman
The issues have been complicated and the pace of progress has sometimes seemed glacial, but we’ve resolved a lot of tough issues and now have a framework that locals can look at, discuss and assess. be largely funded by NMO, relieving locals of the costs of this participation. How will the decision on whether to merge be made and what is the timeline? • In September 2011 the CCC will vote on whether to move the merger proposal to a vote of CCC locals. • Within 60 days, a majority of CCC locals will need to approve the proposal. • In January 2012, the CFT Executive Council will vote whether to recommend the proposal to the 2012 CFT Convention. • At the 2012 Convention, the Constitutional changes necessary to implement merger
must be approved by a twothirds vote of the Convention. • If these steps are completed, the AFT Executive Council approves and CTA/NEA completes its approval process, NMO will begin meeting in Fall 2012. I have many questions. How can I get them answered? The other CCC officers and I are available to come to your local to discuss the framework for the merger in much greater detail, to answer questions, and to get your input. Email me at email@example.com if you would like to schedule a discussion with your local. This spring we will be providing all locals with written material on the merger.
Mark Your 2011 Calendar March 18-20
CFT Convention, Marriott Manhattan Beach, Manhattan Beach
AFT Higher Education Conference, Sheraton Philadelphia City Center Hotel, Philadelphia, PA
CFT Committees, Crowne Plaza, Burlingame
Community College Council, Crowne Plaza, Burlingame
State Council, Crowne Plaza, Burlingame
CFT Leadership Institute, UCLA
Secretary-Treasurer Dennis Smith Perspective is published three times during the academic year by CFT’s Community College Council. Community College Council President Carl Friedlander Los Angeles College Guild, Local 1521 3356 Barham Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90068 Email firstname.lastname@example.org Direct inquiries regarding the Community College Council to Carl Friedlander Southern Vice President Mona Field Glendale College Guild, Local 2276 1500 N. Verdugo Road Glendale, CA 95020 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 1201 Marina Village Parkway, Suite 115 Alameda, CA 94501 Telephone 510-523-5238 Fax 510-523-5262 Email email@example.com Web www.cft.org To Advertise Contact the CFT Secretary-Treasurer for a current rate card and advertising policies. Dennis Smith, Secretary-Treasurer California Federation of Teachers 2550 North Hollywood Way, Ste. 400 Burbank, CA 91505 Telephone 818-843-8226 Fax 818-843-4662 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
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Cover: The San Diego City College student intern program set up this impromptu graveyard for public education before a rally against budget cuts last October 7. Kelly Mayhew photo
February 2011 P E R S P E C TIVE
PHOTO BY Keith Seamon, Camarad
New local president
Lacy Barnes: An Olympian in the classroom
oday Lacy Barnes teaches psychology at Reedley College, and is president of the State Center Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1533. She holds a PhD, speaks out on the rights of faculty, and defends the educational aspirations and welfare of her students. Fifteen years ago, though, she was in the Olympics. As a teenager she became a single mom, and before that, as a 12-year-old living in tiny Ridgecrest, California, she almost died of cancer and lost a kidney. Barnes’ life, by her own account, has defied stereotypes and low expectations. “I’m the seventh child from a family of eight children. Although I never really felt poor growing up, we certainly were deemed so by society’s standards,” she remembers. “I’ve faced adversity and managed to evolve into a relatively well-adjusted student of life. That couldn’t have been predicted from my childhood.” Barnes grew up in one of the five African American families in a small town in the Mojave Desert. Her parents never had the chance to go beyond high school. “They may have had little formal education, but they constantly encouraged us to listen to our teachers and get the most from school we could,” she says. “My teachers encouraged me not to give up on my
“There’s no way I’d be who I am had it not been for athletics. The need to work to achieve athletic goals carried over to other areas of my life. It’s the same work ethic, and it gave me the confidence that I needed to succeed in the classroom.” aspirations. I heard them. And I became one of them.”
Cost of being different Nevertheless, in a Black family in an overwhelmingly white community, she grew up with an intimate knowledge of not just being different, but of the cost that being different could impose. “Being Black in America, you live that reality,” she emphasizes. “I can’t express in words the feeling of being dis-
criminated against. It simply cuts to the core. It hurts.”
PHOTO BY Lucy Ruiz
So Barnes had the good fortune of finding teachers who could look beyond her skin color to see her potential as a person. And what they saw in her was athletic ability. She credits five teachers with playing critical roles. As early as the fourth grade, Mrs. Dix encouraged her to take up tennis, saying she’d be the next Steffi Graf. She wasn’t. But in high school, Linda Rolfs, who she calls her second mother, taught both history and track. Together with Fred Parker, they looked into books and taught her to throw the discus. “Actually, they taught me incorrectly, as we later found out,” Barnes laughs. “But Linda loved kids, and recognized that in Ridgecrest, education was the key to transcending our stations in life. She lived her belief, and taught 35 years in the same seventh grade classroom.”
Lacy Barnes working with her students at Reedley College.
When she got to high school, Barnes met Alan and Rita Ste-
Lacy Barnes in her Olympian days.
phens. Rita passed on a love of literature, while Alan became her coach and corrected her throwing technique. Together, they helped get her an athletic scholarship to California State University, Fresno. By that time, Barnes was a rising star, and was recruited by two other campuses as well.
went to the Atlanta Olympics. “It was a great experience,” she recalls. “I have a girlfriend who’d been there three times before, and she told me when we were walking into the stadium during Opening Ceremonies that this was the only one that meant anything to her, because I was there with her.”
At university, Barnes honed her athletic skills and began to see a world beyond sports. “People said I was very easy to talk to,” she explains. “I could see I had a knack for psychology. It was almost like it chose me.”
Barnes was the best on the U.S. team, but the Americans didn’t do well that year, and she got 33rd place. She did become U.S. champion three times, however. “I chose a perfect career to continue with athletics. It was actually a good fit with teaching, since it gave me a chance to train, and our competitions were in the summer,” she says. “There’s no way I’d be who I am had it not been for athletics. The need to work to achieve athletic goals carried over to other areas of my life. It’s the same work ethic, and it gave me the confidence that I needed to succeed in the classroom.”
The light bulb Teaching also became part of her life. “I thought that to get people to understand ideas, they had to be presented in the simplest form possible, because that’s what I needed,” she says. “And I discovered how rewarding it is when you see the light bulb start to flicker on in students who haven’t really seen anything beyond their own existence.” She tried out for the Olympic team in 1988, and while she didn’t make it, she did get an internship and started teaching. In 1992 she tried again and failed. By that time teaching had become a full time job. Then, in 1996, when she was already on the faculty at Reedley College, she made the team and
Linda Rolfs gave Barnes more than an opportunity to excel athletically; she modeled union involvement as a union steward and president of her local faculty union for many years. “Her actions for unity became an indirect part of my upbringing I suppose.” Continued on page 4
everal hundred delegates to the 2011 California Federation of Teachers convention will meet in the Manhattan Beach Marriott Hotel, March 18-20, to determine future policies and practices of the statewide organization. The CFT’s annual convention is the organization’s highest decision-making body—part union meeting, part education conference, and always a celebration of the membership’s creativity and courage. This year
the convention theme is “Standing Up, Standing Together, Speaking Out!” There will be spirited discussion on a wide range of issues that concern union members, beginning with the governor’s proposed budget. The delegates will likely take up analysis and action on Governor Brown’s approach to state finances, and craft responses. Brown is one of several invited plenary speakers. SDCC
Labor Studies professor Jim Miller will be honored, along with the other core marchers from last year’s March for California’s Future. CFT president Marty Hittelman is not seeking re-election, and there will be elections of new CFT officers. The CCC will present its usual bank of workshops examining education policy as well as ‘nuts and bolts’union issues. Although speakers and workshop presenters provide inspira-
tion and food for thought, in the end it is the membership that puts on the best show. “At my first CFT convention, I was really impressed and moved by the work of the delegates,” says Matthew Goldstein of the Peralta Federation of Teachers. “Now I try to go every year. It’s one of the best things about being a union member.” For more information on the 2011 CFT convention, go to www.cft.org. If you wish to be a delegate, contact your local.
photo by Fred Glass
69th Annual CFT Convention: union democracy in action
CFT president Marty Hittelman presented Julia Brownley with the annual “Legislator of the Year” award at the 2010 convention. Hittelman will be retiring after presiding over this year’s convention.
P E R S P E C TI V E February 2011
Governor’s budget proposal
A “tough budget for tough times” includes student fee hike
nheriting a chronically out of balance budget, Governor Jerry Brown has set to work to right the ship of state. He promised in his campaign he would forego the accounting gimmicks employed for years to keep California’s budget afloat, because these have failed to address the underlying problems of the deficit. He has mostly kept his promise with his first budget proposal, and the result is not pretty for any state funded program, including the community colleges. Brown faces a $25 billion deficit over the next 18 months. He has outlined a relatively balanced approach, with roughly half of the deficit to be dealt with through cuts, and half through extension of temporary tax increases put in place two years ago (along with closing some business tax loopholes). A relatively modest $2 billion fix comes from account shuffling, and he places $1 billion in reserves. He is also proposing an historic shift of responsibility for local service funding back to local governments, to be paid for through part of the tax package. Brown is holding to his oftstated promise not to raise taxes without a vote of the electorate. At the time of this writing it remains unclear whether the tax package requires a two-thirds vote of the Legislature. To put this on the June ballot in a special election may be possible through a majority vote, but no one seems to know for sure. In any case, the entire budget
proposal will come apart at the seams if the tax package doesn’t make it onto the ballot in June.
Terrible cuts The damage that would be done through the proposed cuts is horrific. Among the largest is more than $3 billion to social services, consisting of $1.7 billion to Medi-Cal, and $1.5 billion to the CalWORKs (welfare-towork) program. The Medi-Cal reduction proposal would limit doctor visits to ten per year per Medi-Cal patient, after which there is no reimbursement. The reality is that people with chronic conditions would quickly reach their limit, resulting in providers seeing patients for free, or patients using the ER as their frontline provider. Anthony Wright, director of the advocacy group Health Access, notes that 7.7 million Californians are covered by Medi-Cal. He says, “This means the sickest ten per cent of
Californians—people on chemotherapy, for instance—would have to stop treatment a couple months into the year.” Wright also points out that the million children in the Health Families program (just above poverty level) would lose their vision care coverage, potentially resulting in tens of thousands of kids unable to see the blackboard. After three years of cuts to K-12 totaling $18 billion, this sector—the largest single piece of the state budget—would see relatively little additional harm in this year’s proposal. Higher education takes the next highest hit after social services. The University of California and California State University systems are each reduced by $500 million. State employees not represented in collective bargaining would suffer a 10% pay cut, which comes to $300 million.
face a $400 million apportionment reduction, or about 7% of its total funding. Brown proposes that students pay $10 more per unit, a steep jump from the current $26/unit, or a 38% increase. Full-time students would pay $1080 per year in the formerly free system. A less visible reduction would be through deferral of an additional $129 million in funding, bringing the total system funding deferred over the past several years to nearly $1 billion. And a devil-in-the-details item would be an unspecified change in the student census date, the goal of which would be to encourage student retention by prioritizing course offerings that have higher retention rates. Currently one in six community college students drop out of class before the end of the semester. This proposal would move back the census date, presumably forcing colleges to discontinue low retention course offerings and boost higher retention classes (see “Completion by Design” on page 7 for what’s behind this push).
The community colleges will
According to the Legislative Analyst’s Office, the impact
are not going to be OK, and who need a little more help, are many of the ones I see every day.”
This thought is disconnected from behaviors which ensure that students are getting what they actually need to succeed.”
Building a deep bench
Historically, the local has stayed out of politics, concentrating on compensation and benefit issues. Barnes seeks to move the local membership into greater community activity, and the local’s vice-president for COPE, Bill Turini, is heading an effort to organize that effort. Eventually she sees the possibility of running candidates for the district board of trustees.
of student fee hikes should be minimal, since fee waivers are available for students from families making under $65,000 per year, and families making up to $160,000/year are eligible for federal income tax credits. But experience shows a different outcome, say long-time Los Angeles community college faculty leaders. “Historically, the community colleges lose ten thousand students for every dollar fee increase,” says Joanne Waddell, president of the Los Angeles Community College Faculty Guild, AFT Local 1521. “The forms alone are daunting,” attests John McDowell, who tried to fill them out for his daughter. “It’s page after page that you can’t understand. But there are many hurdles besides the forms,” he says, ticking off the costs of books, tools, childcare, and transportation, on top of which a fee increase can and often does push the student out. “Fewer than half of eligible students ever apply. And with a fee increase, they just leave.” Fred Glass
Olympian in the Classroom continued from page 3 More than just the benefits Barnes sees the union as important protection for faculty salaries and working conditions, but believes that “we have to see the union as more than just the benefits.” In part, that means looking at its role in what she views as the changing terrain generally. “What education used to mean a long time ago has shifted. We now see more of a bottom-line business mentality that’s all about economics. We need to teach our students to think, to learn about society and our interdependency on each other, to make a better world.” At the same time, faculty and the union have to look at the problems of the whole educa-
tion system. “Fewer and fewer students come to the 13th grade prepared,” she asserts. “Teachers in the K-12 system have to teach to tests rather than teaching actual subject matter. By the time they get to community college, I have students who are barely reading at an eighth grade level. I have to give them basic skills, and at the same time ask them to think beyond what is in front of them.” For Barnes, “I’ve always been an advocate of justice, especially for those people who may not have a voice. That’s why I choose to teach at the community college level. I’ve been asked to consider applying at Fresno State, but I think those students are going to be OK. The students who
Barnes is only in her second six months as a new local union president. But already she’s facing severe challenges from the district. “As in other parts of the nation, here in the Central Valley, public education is perceived as much of the problem,” she charges. “Our district does not seemingly acknowledge the “professionalism” of higher education.” She cites as an example a requirement that faculty hold office hours on days when they have no classes. “Faculty must be on campus every day, even if the students they serve aren’t.
The district has avoided pink slips and rollbacks, and maintains substantial reserves. “This has led some people in the district to believe that layoffs and cutbacks
happen to others. And while our district has thrived for ten years or so, these times are ending given the state’s economic crisis.” Barnes’ response is to try to build leadership in the union. “I’m working hard to ensure the organization will survive without me, what every leader should do,” she laughs. “We need a bench with depth.” Recently the local held its first retreat. “Our new executive board is committed to knowing the contract and what the union stands for,” Barnes says. “We’re going to make the union an organization our members want to be part of.” David Bacon
February 2011 P E R S P E C TIVE
photo by fred glass
CFT task force
The Fight for California’s Future continues
hortly after passage of the disastrous 2009 state budget, which cut the state education budget by billions of dollars, the California Federation of Teachers convened a task force. The individuals serving on the task force represented a cross section of the organization, and included CFT president Marty Hittelman, secretary-treasurer Dennis Smith, as well as a number of local presidents and state federation staff. The CFT formed this task force because “whatever it was we had been doing, it wasn’t working well enough,” according to task force chair Joshua Pechthalt, a CFT vice president and president of United Teachers Los Angeles/AFT. Despite electing many friends of education and labor to state office in each election, and a substantial majority in the state Legislature, nonetheless each year state budget cuts reduced the ability of CFT members to deliver quality education. 2009 was no different except in scale. In order to convince a few Republican legislators to vote for the budget, Democratic legislators agreed to nearly two billion dollars in corporate tax loopholes. This followed a twenty-year pattern in which the Legislative majority was hamstrung by state laws requiring two-thirds supermajorities to pass a budget or increase taxes. Over that period more than $14 billion had been removed from the budget permanently in the form of tax rescissions and other revenue reductions and loopholes. Although the recession played a major role in harming the state’s current revenue stream, the long-term problem for the California state budget has been its crippling two-thirds rules.
A new approach The task force decided that rather than being driven by the election cycle to accomplish political and legislative goals, the CFT should take a new approach. With the approval of the CFT’s Executive Council, the task force set three long term goals: overturn the two thirds rules for state budget and for passing taxes, and educate the membership and electorate about the need for fair taxes on the rich and corporations to fund education and other social services. It called the plan the “Fight for California’s Future.” This campaign was to be open-ended, “ or until we achieve our objectives,” said Pechthalt. The Executive Council allocated resources to produce educational materials on progressive tax policy and to bring those materials to the members through the CFT’s publications, local presentations, and training (see them at www.cft.org). Many locals have held trainings, or sent members to regional trainings, which continue to take place throughout the state.
March for California’s Future Following a months-long discussion, the task force picked
a second activity: the March for California’s Future. The brainchild of task force member Dean Murakami, the idea of the March resonated strongly with the CFT Executive Council. “The March was our attempt to stimulate action,” said CFT president Hittelman. “If you look at history, sometimes an exemplary event like a march can inspire and motivate people to become a movement.” The March in spring 2010 succeeded in bringing the CFT’s message to thousands of people who wouldn’t have otherwise heard it in the Central Valley over the 48 days it took to walk from Bakersfield to Sacramento. The final rally, on April 21, was one of the largest the Capitol had seen in years. And the March solidified ties between the CFT and the other organizations— AFSCME/United Domestic Workers, and the California School Employees Association, among others—that helped with the March.
Proposition 25 victory Those ties proved critical in the next step: placing a measure on the November 2010 ballot to reduce the 2/3 Legislative supermajority on the state budget to a simple majority. Many CFT members who had been through
Dean Murakami, president of the Los Rios Community College Federation of Teachers, speaking at a CFT-sponsored fair taxes rally outside the Capitol. Murakami came up with the idea of the March for California’s Future.
the Fight for California’s Future training on progressive tax policy were excited to see the FFCF vision begin to be engaged in the Prop 25 campaign, and were energized by its victory. Task force members knew however, that “Taking on the two-thirds budget requirement will be nothing compared to what we have to do to overturn the two-thirds rule on taxes,” as Pechthalt said. Here is where the thirty-year war by conservatives, beginning with Prop 13 in 1978, to convince the public that taxes are always bad and government should always be smaller, has framed the political discussion. Lately, that one-sided war has become even nastier. “You can’t turn around without reading or hearing that our economic problems and state budget deficits were caused by greedy public employees and their unions,” says Alisa Messer, president of the San Francisco Community College Federation of Teachers,
AFT Local 2121, and a member of the task force. “The other side is so well-funded and deliberate. We have our work cut out for us to remind the public about who actually crashed the economy, and to show them that the superrich and the corporations are behind this idea about the bad public employees as a way of diverting attention from their responsibility for the recession and their low tax rates.” Accordingly, the task force is now working on opinion research about the best ways to talk with the public to connect the dots. When the research is completed, we will launch the next phase of the Fight for California’s Future. Along with a media campaign, there will be a strong community organizing component. So don’t worry: there will be a place for you in the campaign, too. Fred Glass
photo by fred glass
“We have our work cut out for us to remind the public about who actually crashed the economy, and to show them that the superrich and the corporations are behind this idea about the bad public employees as a way of diverting attention from their responsibility for the recession
Students at Planada Elementary School in the Central Valley came out to join the marchers during the March for California’s Future. They will benefit when the goals of the Fight for California’s Future task force become reality.
and their low tax rates.”
P E R S P E C TI V E February 2011
Legislative Update Judith Michaels, CFT Legislative Director
Focus on faculty who work part-time L ast August, the legislature passed ACR 138, expressing the intent of the Legislature that part-time and temporary faculty should receive pay and benefits equal to those of tenured and tenure-track faculty, and that 75 percent of community college faculty should be tenure-track. Although ACR 138 did not become law, its passage shows that legislators do pay attention to the inequities in the current staffing system in our colleges and believe that it is wrong.
Part-time faculty and compensation equity CFT locals continue to make progress on a variety of parttime faculty issues through local bargaining. Last March, the statewide CFT convention voted to take two important issues into the legislative arena because of their importance to the system as a whole. One bill, introduced as SB 114 by State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) on January 19, would require that parttime community college faculty be placed on similar steps to full-time faculty with similar academic preparation and years of experience. Although faculty who teach part-time hold the same academic credentials and qualifications as their full-time colleagues, and spend the same number of non-classroom hours as their full-time colleagues preparing lessons and grading assignments, a variety of compensation patterns, including hourly pay schedules, occur across the 73 college districts. Some districts—for example, San Francisco and Los Rios— have already created parttimer schedules that mirror
full-timers’ schedules in their structure. The schedule has columns, which reflect increasing amounts of education, and rows, sometimes called “steps,” which reflect years of experience. In the interest of equity, we must encourage other districts to move in this direction. (SB 114 would not require prorata pay, a related but separate issue.)
Part-time faculty and retirement
methods makes comparisons about the status of part-time faculty very difficult and results in inequities in salary and service credit when districts report salaries to CalSTRS based on classroom hours. Problems continue to occur, with calculations and reporting of service credits from districts to CalSTRS and from CalSTRS to part-time faculty members, with particular detriment to part-time faculty members who work in more than one district.
Another feature of this bill will be to ask community college districts to report part-time faculty salaries to the California State Teacher’s Retirement System (CalSTRS), and to the affected employees, as a percentage of full-time salary. The current variety of compensation
In 2009, the CFT sponsored AB 360 (Ma), which asked the retirement system to study the feasibility of either creating a new program for part-time community college instructors or modifying current programs to make retirement benefits more equitable for part-time
When full-timers teach excessive overload, part-time faculty are left without assignments, struggling for a limited number of classes, and making it easier for administrators and chairs to treat part-timers as expendable.
instructors. Although the bill stalled, STRS did establish a task force to address issues of inequitable retirement benefits for part-time faculty, and has begun printing articles regarding part-timer issues in its semiannual publication CalSTRS Connections.
The retirement system also started including a section for part-timers in its annual Member Handbook, and has begun to better train its counselors and district personnel to deal with part-timer issues. The new bill would not conflict with this good work, and would be an important step to help community college districts report parttime salaries consistently and assist STRS in more consistent calculations when part-time faculty work in more than one district.
Overload limits for full-time faculty The Convention also passed a resolution limiting full-time overload, believing that the assignment of excessive course overloads to full-time faculty can be detrimental to the quality of instruction, harmful to student progress, and impair the work of institutional development and performance of professional duties. These concerns have led some districts, and their unions, to negotiate limits on overload.
From the perspective of parttime faculty, when full-time faculty take overloads, not only do adjuncts lose income, but they may also lose their eligibility for health benefits. In addition, when full-timers teach excessive overload, part-time faculty are left without assignments, struggling for a limited number of classes, and making it easier for administrators and chairs to treat part-timers as expendable. Passage of this legislation would not prevent full-time faculty from traveling to a neighboring district or university to teach specialized classes, and the curriculum would continue to be enriched by community college adjunct instructors who have full-time jobs in the private sector. Part of the rationale for imposing limitations is concern that heavy schedules may affect performance—a situation that could apply to part-timers teaching an excessive number of units at a variety of campuses. And we’ve not forgotten last year’s effort to gain the right of first refusal for part-time faculty. As more faculty negotiate this proposal in the districts, the statewide perspective becomes more achievable. Assemblyman Fong has agreed to reintroduce this important measure, which the California Federation of Teachers will co-sponsor.
College of Marin continued from page 8 Many grievances A year ago an arbitrator upheld a grievance UPM filed against the district for denying a full-time English department instructor an assignment to teach during summer, and the district had to pay the professor for the class he was not assigned. In another arbitration, the district was found to have denied work to a faculty member in violation of the contract. Frierson was the attorney in both cases. He then went into
bargaining as the district negotiator. Observes Lansing, “At a time when the campus community needs trust and dialog, the District has devoted alarming amounts of resources to litigation.”
pushing its reserves beyond the state mandated 5% to 14.7%,” charges Lansing.
The union accuses the district of misplaced priorities, directing attention and resources away from what counts—teachers and students. “As full-time faculty retirements leave holes in our college, the District has refused to fill the vacancies, while increasing resources for public relations and administrative positions, and
In October 2010, the fact finder recommended an agreement that UPM put before its members. It was rejected by 82% of those voting. In December, a new President, David Coon, arrived at the district.
Agreement rejected by 82% of faculty
The fact finder asked the union to list the main reasons for the
rejection of the agreement, and that might cause a walkout. The union list included health care takeaways, inequitable salary proposals, and unpaid additional faculty duties. The union sought, and was given, strike sanction by the North Bay Labor Council two years ago, in February 2009. For Lansing, the jury is still out on whether the new president will bring a change in the district’s push to break the union. “We’ll see how they respond to
our five priorities,” he says. “So far, the district has appeared willing to force an imposed contract or strike situation by demanding take-aways with no increase in wages. So we can go on strike for the first time in the history of the College of Marin, or we can accept a contract that changes our wages, benefits and working conditions in extreme ways, and wipes out many of the accomplishments achieved over the last 30 years of bargaining.” By David Bacon
February 2011 P E R S P E C TIVE
“Completion by Design”
Bill Gates on the community college horizon
ill Gates, the billionaire self-proclaimed education reformer who, along with New York’s wealthy hedge fund community, poured millions of dollars into the city’s K-12 charter schools, now has set his sights on community colleges. In October 2010, the White House, concerned about joblessness, held a Community College Summit at which President Obama emphasized the role community colleges could play in training job-seeking workers. He announced a $1 billion, 5-year program linking community colleges to corporations such as McDonald’s, Gap, PG&E, and United Technologies. The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation joined in at this opportune point by announcing its $35 million “Completion by Design” grants, intended to assist low-income students from disadvantaged groups (mainly Latino and African-American, who have the highest college dropout rates) to complete degree or certificate programs. Grants, to be announced in spring, were to be awarded to colleges in nine states.
Open access provides opportunity The proposition that openenrollment colleges waste money or fail because many students don’t complete a degree or certificate program has been advanced by some to justify the intervention of corporate reformers like Gates. One of the great benefits of the 112 open-
access community colleges in California, however, has been providing educational opportunity for students of diverse levels of academic ability regardless of degree or certificate completion. Some students drop out of college when they feel they have satisfied their personal educational objectives or because they accept a job. Others drop out due to work conflicts, cultural disadvantages, family problems, or economic hardship. The “Completion” project promises the use of technology to collect data about each student, which presumably could be used proactively to tailor a student’s financial aid package or schedule more classes at times convenient for groups of students with the same scheduling constraints. Reactively, tracking data of students working through lessons on computers at home or in the classroom would permit
timely “intervention” when a student falters academically in the form of counseling, tutoring, or redirection into a remedial mode. Although combating low completion rates among disadvantaged students is praiseworthy, it is important to consider what the broader implications of “Completion by Design” may be for community colleges. Pressured by its administration to sign on to a Gates Foundation grant application it had initially rejected, San Diego City College’s AFT included an incisive side letter expressing its concerns. (Cerritos, Los Angeles Southwest, State Center, and Los Rios, among others, were targeted to participate in California.) The letter pointedly cited the Gates Foundation’s commitment to a funding formula based on completion numbers rather than enrollments as indicative of its business phi-
losophy. Although this approach would further cripple community college budgets (16% of students are class dropouts), Sacramento State’s Institute for Higher Education Leadership has endorsed this formula, as did Governor Brown in his preliminary, cost-cutting state budget. In the face of defunding—and a burgeoning mass of students— advocates of expanding community college online offerings like the Legislative Analyst’s Office and UCB’s Center for Studies in Higher Education are gaining a more favorable hearing. Despite the incompatibility of the 20% higher dropout rates of students in online courses (Chronicle of Higher Education, 9/22/10) with any completion enhancement goal, the Gates Foundation has
it deemed was inappropriate for an educational institution. The Gates Foundation’s “New Generation Learning Challenges,” a companion project established to use technology to ”dramatically improve college readiness and completion,” provides an example of what might transpire once the Gates Foundation got its foot inside the door. “New Generation’s” October, 2010, grant proposal solicitation to information technology users and purveyors identified “interactive applications such as digital games, interactive video, immersive simulations, and social media,” as among the latest “challenges to be explored.” Would this project ultimately coordinate with “Completion by Design” by using the latter’s pool of disadvantaged students
Because five long, embedded years of a Gates project could push a college in an unwanted direction, SDCC‘s AFT wisely insisted on participation and representation throughout the entire grant process and a right to withdraw after the first year if the project took a turn which it deemed was inappropriate for an educational institution. in no way renounced the online alternative.
Hidden agenda The San Diego AFT letter also alluded to a hidden, longterm agenda in the “Completion by Design” project: if its unofficial goal of increasing disadvantaged completion rates from 22% to “well above 50%” were attained at a tolerable cost, such self-defined “success” might be used to promote the Gates Foundation’s approach in the community college arena and market its mix of technology and business management standards for expanded application. Another concern of SDCC’s AFT was that “Completion” staffing would rely excessively on low-cost, contingent faculty. Because five long, embedded years of a Gates project could push a college in an unwanted direction, SDCC‘s AFT wisely insisted on participation and representation throughout the entire grant process and a right to withdraw after the first year if the project took a turn which
for testing its new approaches? If so, would the quality of the learning—and its content— be reduced to digital fun and games? It is somewhat hypocritical that Gates, the billionaire software king of the computer, presents himself as an education reformer while remaining silent on the widely-recognized role of information technology in undermining the schooling of America’s youth. According to a 2010 Kaiser Family Foundation Study, the average 8-18 yearold spends an astounding 7 1/2 hours per day outside school using various electronic media. And the International Herald Tribune reported (12/8/10) that by age 21, the typical American has spent 10,000 hours playing computer games. Although such figures represent a substantial devotion to trivial pursuits and time wasting, Gates apparently sees more—not less—technology as the solution to the education crisis. By Greg Davis, AFT 1493
P E R S P E C TI V E October 2010
Local Action photo by Kelly Mayhew
San Diego AFT Student Interns: Marching to a different BEAT On a cool December evening about one hundred San Diego City College students and faculty stood on the sidewalk outside the District Attorney’s office on Broadway in downtown San Diego chanting, “Justice, Now!” and “We Are Diana!” The protesters, AFT student interns and other members of City College’s BEAT (Bringing Education and Activism Together) club were gathered to urge the District Attorney to respond to the questions and concerns of the family of murdered City College student Diana Gonzales, brutally killed by her abusive boyfriend on campus. The DA’s office has been less than forthcoming about its investigation of the case. When AFT Local 1931’s Larissa Dorman came down from the
Larissa Dorman, faculty sponsor for BEAT (in dress 2nd from left), joins the student interns at a mock funeral for public education at SDCC.
social justice for everyone—union and non-union workers, students and the community at large. Formed in 2009 with the support of Local 1931, BEAT soon became the most dynamic student
As public education is being fiercely attacked, it makes sense that we would combine efforts and work side-by-side as faculty, staff and students for a better future. meeting between the DA and the woman’s family, she was able to report some success in moving the DA’s office toward addressing the issue. The crowd cheered and, after two and a half hours of marching and chanting, headed home. They left knowing they’d done their part to help assure that Gonzales, a working class student of color, would not become a nameless statistic because she hailed from the wrong zip code and represented the wrong demographic for local media interest.
Violence against women, poverty and hunger on campus, homelessness, veterans’ issues, globalization, immigration, the effects of budget cuts and the meaning of education are the kinds of issues that BEAT tackles. This is what distinguishes BEAT from other student groups and what makes the relationship between BEAT and AFT special. It’s not just a union making use of students for their campaigns; it’s a reciprocal relationship between students and workers in education. It’s about creating new leaders and activists in the labor movement and elsewhere. Finally, it’s about a vision of unionism that moves beyond bread and butter issues and electoral politics to broader hope for
Impressive beginning It was an impressive beginning. Professor Dorman says, “It is really amazing to see students having a connection to labor and understanding the importance of activism. I never would have imagined that the relationship between BEAT and AFT would become so strong so quickly. As public education is being fiercely attacked, it makes sense that we would combine efforts and work side-by-side as faculty, staff and students for a better future.” AFT intern Maurice Martin, a homeless vet who is putting his life back in order at San Diego City College, explains what the internship has done for him: “I’ve learned that history matters from our ongoing AFT training with Professors Miller and Dorman and the importance of community in times of trouble. It’s then that a coming together is the most healing. And a sharing with others who have the least in our community is a win-win for all citizens.” By Jim Miller
Four years in negotiations at College of Marin The union contract at Marin Community College expired so long ago that its successor agreement, never completely negotiated or signed, expired as well. No contract has been successfully negotiated since July 2007. United Professors of Marin, AFT Local 1610, may not like delay—may even hate it—but they’ve gotten used to it. The union went into fact finding two years ago to arrive at a new agreement, and the fact finder has yet to issue a report. The root of the problem, says United Professors of Marin president Ira Lansing, is an attempt by the previous administration to bust the union. “When the contract expired almost four years ago,” he explains, “the district sunshined 18 of the old agreement’s 26 articles. That’s an unprecedented number of clauses to put up for negotiation. Often the normal course is to offer money to avoid negotiating improved language, or even the reverse. But this district wanted to gut our language, and offer us no money at the same time.”
High living costs College of Marin is the 47th lowest-paid district in the state, in a county with higher living costs than almost any other. Across the street from the college campus is Kent Middle School, where
a teacher with a masters degree and 15 years on the job gets $17,000 a year more. The district has offered 0% over three years. “They believe we’re paid too much,” Lansing charges. To try to break the logjam a year ago, the union even made a drastic proposal. “We said we’d agree to all their changes in contract language, and there were many, if they’d agree with all our proposals on salaries and economics,” Lansing said then. Significantly, the district has never said that it couldn’t pay increases, and the union has even pointed to areas from which the money could come. The district didn’t respond. Instead, district negotiators put on the table a number of changes that the union viewed as direct attacks. It sought to remove union advocates from the evaluation process entirely. It demanded that the union give up its office space on campus, and denied it the use of district reprographics, despite the fact that the union was paying for both things. Although a fair contract was achieved in 2005, when negotiations began two years later the district turned them over to an attorney, Larry Frierson. He became its highest paid employee, earning over $600,000 in three years. While negotiations stalled, the district fought to arbitration grievances that should have been settled at a much earlier stage. Continued on page 6
In Memoriam: Joe McDonough photo by Eric Brenner
group the City College campus has ever seen. The group held forums on political issues, did performances of great speeches on people’s history, protested at the Governor’s San Diego office, and played a key role in the March 4th 2010 day of action. AFT became involved with BEAT through Dorman, a history and political science instructor, who encouraged the students to participate in the March for California’s Future. When BEAT joined in they filled a bus to go to the kick-off rally in Los Angeles and later spent their spring break marching though Merced and Chowchilla rather than downing beers at the beach. Over the last two years, the relationship has grown between the BEAT students and the union, with Local 1931 providing financial and material support for BEAT’s rallies, student food pantry, and other activities. Beginning in the fall semester of 2010, Local 1931 and BEAT formally launched a student intern program. Interns Anya Gomez, Marilyn Benitez, Jose Rodriguez, Taylor Lanore, Maurice Martin, Jessica Magpie, Ryan White and Katrina Cruz played a crucial role doing shifts in the phone bank for our Brown/Prop 25 efforts as well as our GrossmontCuyamaca Community College Board (GCCCD) races where they helped elect two new board mem-
bers. They also walked precincts with the labor council, registered voters, tabled on SDCCD and GCCCD campuses, participated in the Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice’s community forums on the ballot propositions, and coordinated student teach-ins. In addition to their electoral activities, BEAT founded a chapter in the GCCCD, continued their work on the food pantry at City, fed the homeless in downtown San Diego, collected signatures on postcards calling for an oil severance tax to help solve the budget crisis, attended a seminar on labor history, took labor studies classes, did student outreach in classrooms on a variety of issues, and attended all of AFT Local 1931’s general meetings.
Joe McDonough, former president of AFT Local 1493, clinical psychologist and longtime faculty member at College of San Mateo, passed away in October at 85. A World War II Purple Heart recipient, McDonough was the CFT’s Ben Rust Award winner in 2000.