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Volume 43, Number 3 May 2012 Community College Council of the California Federation of Teachers American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO

Voice for the voiceless Margaret Quiñones-Perez went from “C” student to Board of Trustees president at the same college, along the way picking up a PhD and fighting for social justice.

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Higher ed cuts not smart The future of public higher education isn’t what it used to be, even though, as a new study shows, every dollar spent by California on it returns $4.50 in increased state revenues.

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More revenues, please

CFT Lobby Day participants in Sacramento told their legislators, “the first priority should be access” for their students. And Jerry Brown, among others, dropped by to say hello.

California Federation of Teachers 1201 Marina Village Parkway, Suite 115 Alameda, CA 94501

Non-Profit Organization U.S. Postage Paid Oakland CA Permit No. 1765

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Orange County and Santa Monica students protest college boards’ confused priorities

pages 7 & 8


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P E R S P E C TI V E

May 2012

EDITORIAL

Taking the lead Carl Friedlander, CFT Community College Council President

Danger ahead as academic year winds down I

admit it. I’m scared about a number of things.

Threat #1: the Corporate Power Grab First, when the new school year gets underway in the fall, we’ll be less than two months from an election in which California voters will decide whether the state’s unions will be allowed to continue to engage in politics. “Prohibiting use of payroll deducted funds for political purposes for unions and corporations” may sound fair at first hearing, but corporations don’t use payroll deductions to fund their massive political war chests, so this initiative sidelines labor but has no effect on corporate political money. It’s far more draconian (and much more cleverly crafted) than its predecessors, Props. 226 and 75. Defeating it will require the greatest campaign labor has ever waged. But defeat it we must, because if this corporate power grab succeeds, labor’s ability to challenge and compete politically with corporate interests going forward will have been permanently stripped away.

finances around; it will only keep conditions from deteriorating further and provide muchneeded momentum to the fight for progressive tax policy and for California’s future.

Threat #3: Lots of Bad Ideas Third, the desperate fiscal environment has spawned a host of bad ideas and false “solutions.” There’s Santa Monica College’s harebrained two-tier plan (covered in this Perspective). Long Beach City College is sponsoring SB 1550 (Wright), a legislative proposal to pilot high fee CTE classes in five community college districts. At a moment when the fulltime share of total FTEF statewide has shrunk to an all-time low of 58%, some community college managers are calling for the suspension or elimination of Fulltime Faculty Obligation Number (FON) requirements. While many of the legislative and regulatory proposals that have evolved from the work of the Student Success Task Force have real merit, there’s too much “spinning” and selling of these proposals (without real data to back up the claims) as ways to increase “fiscal efficiency” in an era of severe financial stress.

Threat #2: the Budget and the Risk of Failing to Pass the Tax Initiative

Unity is Key

Second, California’s budget problems have left the State in a fiscal black hole. Many of our community college districts are on the brink of laying off fulltime employees. Part-timers are hemorrhaging assignments. Student services have been decimated and hundreds of thousands of students across the state are unable to find classes. Passing the Governor’s tax initiative (much improved by the compromise with CFT) in November is imperative. But it won’t be easy. And even a ballot victory won’t turn California

A lot of these concerns obviously go way beyond the community college world, even though I excluded matters like the U.S. presidential election and the future composition of the House of Representatives and Senate as concerns. But community colleges are an important front in all the battles I’ve listed, and I wish I were more sanguine about our sector’s ability to unify and mobilize. The truth is that there’s been only small progress toward unity. A small but important

forward step was taken recently when the board of the Community College Association (CCA/ CTA) voted to approve a pilot 3-level AFL-CIO affiliation for all its members in L.A. County. That’s great news for the labor movement and for CCA’s community college members at L.A. County colleges, but it still leaves California’s two affiliated community college faculty unions engaged in parallel play rather than united or at least partnering in some more formal fashion. And while the five

Success legislation or guarding against unwarranted exceptions to the 50% law, still leave us woefully unprepared for the kinds of massive challenges discussed earlier. We’ve got big battles ahead. I’m very proud of CFT for the leadership it provided in 2011 to get Prop. 25 qualified and passed and even more proud of our union’s role in making the Governor’s Nov. 2012 tax initiative much more progressive. I know that California labor has the wherewithal to beat back

If this corporate power grab succeeds, labor’s ability to challenge and compete politically with corporate interests going forward will have been permanently stripped away. organizational members of the Council of Faculty Organizations (CoFO) – CCC/CFT, CCA/CTA, CCCI, FACCC and ASCCC – generally work very well together, the type of collaborative efforts we engage in, while invaluable for finetuning details in the Student

the corporate deception initiative and pass the tax initiative. But I’d be even more hopeful if we could overcome the fragmentation in the community college system and fully unleash its latent power to help move forward a progressive agenda for California.

The California Federation of Teachers is an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO. The CFT represents over 120,000 educational employees working at every level of education in California. The CFT is committed to raising the standards of the profession and to securing the conditions essential to provide the best service to California’s students. President Joshua Pechthalt Secretary-Treasurer Jeff Freitas 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 cfriedlander@aft1521.org Direct inquiries regarding the Community College Council to Carl Friedlander Southern Vice President Jim Mahler AFT Guild, San Diego and GrossmontCuyamaca Community Colleges, Local 1931 3737 Camino del Rio South, Suite 410 United Labor Center Bldg. San Diego, CA 92108 Northern Vice President Dean Murakami Los Rios College Federation of Teachers AFT Local 2279 1127 – 11th Street, #806 Sacramento, CA 95814 Secretary Kathy Holland Los Angeles College Guild, Local 1521, 3356 Barham Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90068 Editor Fred Glass Layout Design Action Collective EDITORIAL SUBMISSIONS Direct editorial submissions to: Editor, Community College Perspective. California Federation of Teachers 1201 Marina Village Parkway, Suite 115 Alameda, CA 94501 Telephone 510-523-5238 Fax 510-523-5262 Email cftoakland@igc.org Web www.cft.org TO ADVERTISE Contact the CFT Secretary-Treasurer for a current rate card and advertising policies.

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Although advertisements are screened as carefully as possible, acceptance of an advertisement does not imply CFT endorsement of the product or service. Perspective is a member of the International Labor Communications Association and AFT Communications Association. Perspective is printed and mailed by the all-union, environmentally friendly Howard Quinn Company in San Francisco, California, using soy-based inks.

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Cover: Students of Orange Coast College math instructor Eduardo Arismendi-Pardi (left to right, Nellie Antonio, Christian Espinoza, and Christian Garibay) turn out to tell the Coast CC Board of Trustees to change its priorities. EDUARDO ARISMENDI-PARDI PHOTO


May 2012

MEMBER PROFILE

P E R S P E C TIVE

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El Camino’s Margaret Quiñones-Perez

Defending the promise of California’s Master Plan W

hile it wasn’t what she expected when she was elected to the Board of Trustees of Santa Monica College, it wasn’t a surprise to El Camino Community College faculty leader Margaret Quiñones-Perez when thirty students and a four-year-old girl were pepper-sprayed outside a board meeting on April 3. She termed it “a wakeup call to us as an institution that we needed to have a bigger conversation. We had to stop and see what was going on.” The incident took place as the board was debating a proposal from SMC president Chui Tsang to institute a system charging much higher fees for some of the classes offered by the community college (see story page 7). Quinones-Perez and student trustee Joshua Scuteri were the only votes against the proposal, which, she maintains, runs counter to the promise in California’s Master Plan that higher education would be available to every student who wanted it. “It really creates segregation instead,” she says, “between the haves and the have-nots. If you can pay, you’ll get your classes. But if you don’t have money, you may get classes, and you may not. Community colleges were not created for this.”

Fraying the Master Plan Skyrocketing fees in the state university and University of California systems have already frayed the Master Plan badly. UC Berkeley has turned away thousands of in-state applicants, who have been replaced by affluent students paying out-of-state fees making UCB more expensive than Yale and Princeton. About 30% of the incoming freshman class of 2011 now pay out-of-state fees that

are $23,000 a year more than instate students. Some Santa Monica College board members call Tsang’s proposal innovative. “They say the Master Plan is outdated, not in tune with financial reality and what’s feasible,” Quiñones-Perez charges. “But you don’t get to change the values of what com-

hangout where Latinos of their generation went to socialize.” Quiñones-Perez was the middle child of nine brothers and sisters, seven of whom survived to adulthood. Then her father returned to Mexico, where he was killed in a horrific car accident. That left her mom to support the family.

“I knew I was poor” “She found us a cheap house in a safe neighborhood, away from the gangs of Venice, where my older brother was killed,” Quiñones-Perez remembers. “She worked as a domestic, and by the time I was eight, I was

“I’ve learned over the years that if you don’t raise your voice, nothing will ever happen.” munity colleges are supposed to do. Only the people of California get to do that.” For Quiñones-Perez, defending the Master Plan is second nature. Its guarantees enabled her to get an education that would otherwise have been far out of reach. She grew up in Stoner Park, a poor enclave in the middle-class neighborhoods of west Los Angeles. “My dad came to the U.S. when there were tobacco and onion fields in the area. You could still see the shacks farm workers lived in on Olympic Boulevard and Sawtelle when I was growing up. That’s where he met my mom, who was born here. They met in The Lucky U bar -- the local

going to work with her. At first I thought it was exciting. I was in big houses, with pretty things I’d never seen before. But soon I felt humiliated, washing the bathroom on my knees. I was embarrassed and ashamed. I didn’t understand why I had to clean other peoples’ bathrooms. When I saw the drapes and carpets in those homes, I knew I was poor.” In addition, she also began to realize what it meant to be Mexican in LA. Like many of her generation, her mother had been punished in school for speaking Spanish. Although Margaret spoke Spanish at home, her mother pushed her to speak English out in the world. “In

MARGARET QUINONES-PEREZ

Margaret Quiñones-Perez on the job as El Camino College counselor. She is also a faculty union vicepresident, and Santa Monica College Board of Trustees president.

the quietness of my mind,” she recalls, “I knew that if I’d had blonde hair and blue eyes life would have been better for us. It’s not that I didn’t want to be Mexican, but I knew that if you weren’t, you’d have better food and a better life. So there we were, cleaning houses and getting food stamps. In back of Safeway I’d meet Sam, a clerk who’d give us crates of loose grapes and bruised fruit—what they were throwing away. For us, that was a treat, like Christmas. My mom would go to the bakery outlets for the day old bread and cupcakes. We learned to appreciate the little things.” In school Quiñones-Perez faced another barrier. She had auditory problems, and in first grade her mother signed the papers sending her on the bus to special education classes. “In those days they didn’t have separate classes for the blind, or the emotionally disturbed or physically disabled. We were all lumped together. And for the next twelve years, that’s how I went to school.” Nevertheless, she graduated from high school, the first in her family and the only one of her siblings who did. “It was a hard childhood, but it made me a principled person. I know right from wrong, I’m very loyal, and I know how to work hard. But I was taught to hide my disability, and that I was stupid.” That lasted even when she enrolled in Santa Monica College, where she got all C’s.

Better image But at Santa Monica she discovered the student organization MEChA—the Movimiento Estudantil Chicano de Aztlan. The other students talked to her about going on to a four-year school, and in the meetings she got her first exposure to Chicano history and art. “I learned who I really was,” she says, “a Chicana, a woman of Mexican descent. It gave me a better image of myself. I wasn’t hiding anymore.” When she got to Cal State Dominguez Hills she also stopped hiding her disability. A statistics instructor, Barry Rosen, immediately recognized her problem and helped her find an educational path that played to her strengths. She got married, had children, got separated, and finally completed her BA with the help of the school’s childcare and financial aid programs. With a stipend from the Minority and Research Careers program she became a mental health researcher, which prepared her for the job she’s had ever since—counselor at El

Camino College. She eventually got a masters’ degree at the University of Southern California, and a doctorate at UCLA. At El Camino she joined the union right away. “I’ve always been a unionista,” she laughs. Today she’s first vice-president of the El Camino Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1388, and its political action chair. She mobilizes members for initiatives like the current tax reform, while working with local reps. “We’ve got very ugly negotiations going on now, and the district has imposed a contract on us, so we’re likely to have some job actions. But I’ve learned over the years that if you don’t raise your voice, nothing will ever happen.”

A fighter For 22 years at El Camino she was also a single parent, making it necessary to get additional part time counseling jobs at Cerritos and Santa Monica Colleges and in migrant education programs. “But I never left El Camino,” she emphasizes. “A job there was security for my children – a paycheck and healthcare.” She discovered that her children had learning disabilities, just as she’d had. That made her a fighter for them, and other students like them. When they enrolled in Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District, she ran for the board of education and served 12 years. “No one knew my kids were at Unified. But I knew that if I wasn’t fighting for them and other students of color, the system would fail them. There’s a stigma to special ed that makes kids feel vulnerable and different. I wanted them to feel they could do anything.” After they’d graduated, she ran for the college district board and won. She looks at the students from the Pico neighborhood, the poor barrio of Santa Monica, and thinks, “We can do better for them.” That’s one reason why Tsang’s proposal makes her angry. “They just want to create more classes and sell them at a time when we aren’t looking at the impact on the students who need us the most. What’s the retention rate for kids of color? What are we doing to get them through?” Quiñones-Perez is proud of Santa Monica College. “We have a wonderful reputation and a great faculty. Some students take two or three buses from a long ways away just to come here, because they believe it will help them get to a four-year school. But I fear that if they’re coming from poor communities, they’ll get locked out.”


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May 2012

FINANCES

New report shows what we know

Investment in public higher education pays off big time ...

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esearchers at the Institute for the Study of Societal Issues at UC Berkeley posed two questions: What are the benefits of investing in higher education? And, is it worth it for Californians? In a report published in April, “California’s Economic Payoff: Investing in College Access and Completion,” three researchers found that individuals who receive a college education and the state of California alike benefit greatly from the state’s

investment in education beyond high school. For individuals, the benefit of graduating college with a four year degree is huge: an average of more than 1.3 million dollars more than high school graduates earned over their working

life. Even without a degree, having attended some college brings an average of a third of million dollars more in income between the ages of 25 and 64 beyond the average high school graduate. Just attending college knocks years off of time spent in poverty, incarcerated, or on public assistance. Similar numbers hold true across various demographic lines. For the state of California,

CALIFORNIA’S ECONOMIC PAYOFF

college attendance adds nearly fifty thousand dollars per individual, and a bachelor’s degree brings more than two hundred thousand dollars in increased tax revenues, over their lifetimes. Overall, the state gets back around $4.50 for each dollar invested in public higher education. What the study demonstrates clearly is that current state policy, which undermines the Master Plan for Higher Education’s promise of free higher education for all Californians, is pennywise and pound-foolish. As the report notes, “…decreasing investments in higher education today is likely to substantially decrease state revenues in the years to come.” The authors of the report note that around 30% of students who enter the fouryear systems fail to finish with a baccalaureate degree. They urge measures to boost that four year graduation rate, since

they find that “completers also provide much larger returns to the state, and effectively return five dollars to the state for every additional dollar invested in their completion, a rate of return double that of those who fail to finish.” The report was commissioned by The Campaign for College Opportunity and co-released with the California Civil Rights Coalition and the California Chamber of Commerce. Read the entire report online at www.collegecampaign.org/ resources/research/ ca-economic-payoff

... and yet, the gate is shutting on public higher education News item: Senate Republicans vote to oppose student loan bill that would keep interest rates at 3.4% for Stafford grants. If they don’t change their minds by July 1, the rate will double to 6.8%, and seven million students will pay on average close to $1,000 more.

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ecent news about Congressional Republicans’ opposition to keeping college student loan interest rates low reaffirms a trend of the past couple decades, expressed in various damaging symptoms: a gradual abandonment of our society’s commitment to providing education to our students, no matter their economic class or circumstances. Through the Master Plan for Higher Education in California, and earlier through the G.I. Bill at the national level, we historically gave the opportunity to everyone to rise to the level of her or his own educational abilities and expectations. No more. A cluster of problems signify narrowing options for young people seeking to better their minds and their working lives, as rising economic inequality impacts public budgets through inadequate tax rates on the rich and corporations. Student debt now collectively

outweighs credit card debt. Estimates vary within a range from $500 billion to a trillion dollars. 40% of people under 30 have outstanding student loans, and their average debt is more than $23,000. Public higher education now often costs more for low income, working class and middle class families than if they were enrolled in an elite private school, due to subsidies provided in the latter institutions through endowments. In the decades following World War II, tuition and fees at public universities averaged about

4% of median family income. Today the figure is more than 20%. Public college and university tuition and fee increases this year are averaging more than 8% across the nation. In California, the hit is 21%, highest of all, and that’s before factoring in the proposed community college fee increase from $36 to $46 per unit. For-profit colleges have taken in a larger share of students as

costs climb for public schools, and rip them off in various ways, including promising jobs that don’t exist, providing subpar academics, and scamming federal loan programs created for public higher education. As economist and former U.S. Labor Secretary Robert Reich puts it, “Public higher education has been the gateway to the middle class but that gate is shutting….” There is a simple solution.

A cluster of problems signify narrowing options for young people seeking to better their minds and their working lives, as as rising economic inequality impacts public budgets through inadequate tax rates on the rich and corporations.

Return top marginal tax rates on the wealthiest individuals to what they were in the 1950s and 1960s, when the economy worked in a more equal fashion for everyone, and devote the revenues to public education and services. We don’t even have to go nearly that far to make the student loan bill numbers work out. The cost of keeping the Stafford grants at 3.4% is around $6 billion per year. By contrast, reversing the Bush tax cuts on the top one percent of income earners, people who make over $400,000 per year, restoring their tax rate from 35% to 39%, would bring in $70 billion per year. Until that happens, the sound you hear is that of a rusty gate slowly swinging closed.


May 2012

POLITICS

P E R S P E C TIVE

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FRED GLASS PHOTOS

Lobby Day 2012

Message to legislators: more revenues needed

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ur people really got a sense of CFT, and what it means to be part of a statewide organization of educators,” said Joanne Waddell, president of the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild. “We got to hang out with K-12 and classified colleagues, and we don’t do that often enough. We also became aware of the new standing that CFT has in statewide politics.”

Waddell was describing the experience of her members during the annual CFT Lobby Day in Sacramento, April 23. Her team flew up early in the morning from southern California to walk around the Capitol to speak with their elected officials. But for most attendees, the event began the night before with a dinner and training. State Treasurer Bill Lockyer was the kickoff speaker. Lockyer noted that many people think

Today that number is 5.14%. That makes California the 46th state in the nation in services delivered per person.

Middle of the pack He also noted that anti-tax ideologues continuously tell the public that California has the highest taxes in the nation. But in terms of the sales tax, we are 11th. In terms of corporate taxes, California ranks tenth (officially; after loopholes, the

Students are being locked out of their classes. Whether the students need to transfer, get a degree, a certificate, or upgrade their skills, their successful attainment of their goals in a community college is fundamental to recharging California’s economy that California is a “high-tax state,” because the idea has been repeated ad nauseum. However, he noted, when Ronald Reagan was governor, the state spent 6.02% of personal income on government-provided services.

putative 8.84%’s effective rate is under 5%). And thanks to Prop 13, our property taxes are 34th in the nation. Overall, it turns out, California is a middle-ofthe-pack taxing state. Lockyer concluded that more revenues

are needed to take care of California’s problems. Following Lockyer’s talk, CFT legislative staffers Judith Michaels and Dolores Sanchez were joined by CFT research specialist Patty Cox in a lightning round of orientation sessions, providing members with facts, figures, and information about key bills affecting public education. After a final orientation session in the governor’s meeting room early in the morning, out went the members, in a dozen teams, to the legislative offices.

The visits Waddell led a team of four part-time instructors to their first meeting. Kathy Holland, Renee Berg, Tim Gilmore and Salvador Sanchez have been affected adversely (like their students) by budget cuts brought on over the past several years by the recession and low tax rates on the wealthy. “The budget was our most important priority,” said Waddell. “When we got hit with cuts three times this year, it was devastating. We had to remind

FRED GLASS PHOTO

Los Angeles Faculty Guild, AFT Local 1521 lobbying delegation. From left, Salvador Sanchez, Renee Berg, Kathy Holland, Joanne Waddell, and Tim Gilmore.

Top: Lacy Barnes, president of the State Center Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1533, and senior VP of the CFT (left) confers with Joanne Waddell during CFT Lobby Day. Bottom: Governor Jerry Brown drops in on the CFT lobbying group for a brief visit and words of encouragement.

the legislators that community colleges don’t get a backfill unless they vote for one. We wanted them to do it before the May Revise, but to do it in any case. “ The first legislative office in which they told their stories was southern California senator Alex Padilla’s. The senator was in session, but the delegation spoke with one of his aides about the need to “backfill the shortfall,” Sacramento budget-speak for restoring $400 million in funds cut from the community colleges this year. As a result of budget cuts, Berg told the aide, there are just three class sections offered on child development, required for graduation in the major, and the students can’t get in. Gilmore, a counselor as well as instructor, described the attrition among students who can’t enter the classes they need to fulfill their educational plans, and can’t get in to see a counselor to make a new plan, since the ratio of students to counselors is now more than 2000 to 1. “They are becoming discouraged, and dropping out,” he told the staffer, who took notes and promised to tell Padilla what was said. It was clear Waddell knows her way around the Capitol corridors. The team’s next appointment was with Carol Liu. When the meeting with the aide ended, she turned smartly on her heel and headed

for the stairwell, getting us to Liu’s office on another floor in less than two minutes. Waddell admitted to having visited the Capitol about once a month over the past year.

Surprise appearance Scenes like these played out during the day until midafternoon, when CFT members returned to the governor’s meeting room for some face time with legislators. One highlight was the visit of termed out senator Joe Simitian, who engaged in a lengthy exchange about what would constitute “fair pension reform.” But the big moment was a surprise drop-in visit by Governor Jerry Brown. He thanked the CFT for its work on the progressive tax initiative going to the November ballot, and voiced the hope that our joint efforts would push it across the finish line. Waddell’s team had some advice about that topic, too. “We told the legislators that when our ballot measure passes this fall, the first priority should be access. Students are being locked out of their classes. Whether the students need to transfer, get a degree, a certificate, or upgrade their skills, their successful attainment of their goals in a community college is fundamental to recharging California’s economy.”


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May 2012

LEGISLATI O N

Legislative Update Judith Michaels, CFT Legislative Representative

Community college legislation and the budget

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y the time you read this, the community college budget picture should be clearer, although it will surely maintain this summer’s student fee increase to $46 per unit. The Chancellor’s office expects to reduce initial projections of the current year budget shortfall from $149 to approximately $100 million. In his May Revision, Governor Brown can allocate funds to backfill this current year budget deficit. State budget cuts have led some college boards to spend down reserves while others proposed salary and benefit take-backs. All have cut course offerings. In response, CFT has established a Higher Education Budget Strategy group, recognizing that the budget situation puts all of higher education at risk.

Sponsored bills move forward Community college bills that members asked CFT to sponsor continue to move through the Legislature. All have passed the first house, either the Assembly or the Senate, respectively, and

will soon move to hearing in the second house. Generally, the Legislature considers bills passed by the other house soon after Governor Brown signs the bud-

length of service, some use mirrored salary schedules, and a few pay an hourly rate, compensating office hours separately. Near the conclusion of the delibera-

It’s important to be in contact with your representatives during the summer, in coordination with CFT Sacramento staff, as legislators struggle to achieve an on-time budget, to address pensions in a conference committee, and to complete work on bills. get. Here’s a closer look at our bills, which seek to improve the lot of temporary faculty, many of whom have seen, in this budget climate, either partial or total loss of teaching assignments. SB 114 (Yee) addresses the pay and workload disparity that follows part-time faculty into retirement, caused in part by the various calculations districts use, and employee histories that often include service in multiple districts. Some districts use a factored load, most districts cap part-time salaries after specified

tions of a part-time faculty task force established by CalSTRS, districts opposed the consensus to move to a load-based reporting system, so the task force has continued, in the face of a STRS strategy involving auditing approximately six districts per year. We must gain STRS support to design a bill that addresses the complexities of part-time load, and moves our agenda forward without putting further strain on the state budget through a mandate. AB 852 (Fong) requires

Susan Schacher honored for activism

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ong time Laney College instructor and Peralta Federation of Teachers activist Susan Schacher has been honored with the Margaret Quan Part-Time Advocate of the Year Award, bestowed by the Faculty Association of the California Community Colleges (FACCC). The award is presented to “an outstanding part-time faculty advocate whose work impacts faculty statewide.” Susan was presented, appropriately, with the award the day before she participated in the 10,000 strong March in March in Sacramento for increased funding for higher education. Susan has worked twenty four years at Laney College in Oakland, during which time she has taught in and been a cocoordinator of Project Bridge,

one of the first basic skills learning communities in the United States. She has been active with AFT Local 1603, as well as the California Part-time Faculty Association (CPFA), and FACCC. She serves on the Adult Education Commission of the California Federation of Teachers and the Oakland Adult Literary Task Force. She also participates in the Bay Area New Priorities Campaign, a coalition that advocates shifting resources from the military to

education and other social needs. Susan received her MA from the University of Chicago. A warm studentproduced video on Susan can be seen here: web.peralta.edu/ blog/2012/04/30/peralta-newssusan-schacher-faccc-awardeeof-laney-college Editor’s note: The Perspective learned after deadline that due to budget cuts, Schacher’s Fall semester classes at Laney College have been eliminated. This is how excellence is rewarded in the community colleges in an era of austerity.

districts to reemploy part-time faculty, denying them preference only for just cause. Some districts have negotiated a system for part-time faculty to keep on doing what they have demonstrated they do so well—teach. Others have not, reflecting years of exploitation for what was to have been a temporary solution to enrollment spikes, and has since become a way of life for academics dashing from campus to campus to attain a full-time load, but seldom the equivalent of a full-time salary. The bill passed the Assembly last year and we plan to amend it to meet objections outlined by the Senate Education Committee to move the bill out of committee and on to the Senate Floor.

Overload Finally, AB 1826 by Assemblyman Roger Hernandez continues the fine work begun last year by Assemblyman Anthony Portantino in AB 383. Currently, full-time faculty can be overloaded with extra classes or assignments, a policy that affects part-timers’ income and

eligibility for health benefits. As class sizes continue to creep up, the quality of instruction can be compromised when colleges assign full-time faculty, either by their own option, by administrative fiat, or to address the need for additional courses, to teach course sections well beyond already heavy teaching loads. AB 1826 would cap overload at 50%, while preserving local district efforts to lower the threshold contractually. Having passed the Assembly, the bill awaits action in the Senate. It’s important to be in contact with your representatives during the summer, in coordination with CFT Sacramento staff, as legislators struggle to achieve an on-time budget, to address pensions in a conference committee, and to complete work on bills. Despite protests both in the districts and in the capital, student fees continue to rise and grants and aid continue to fall. We can advocate to change these problems before adjournment August 31, 2012.

In Memoriam:

Michael Crowley Michael Crowley passed on March 18, 2012. He taught English and Photography in the Los Rios Community College District for more than thirty years. A recipient of the CFT’s Ben Rust award, he served as president of his AFT local for three terms, and chief negotiator when the union put in place an innovative peer review system. He raised five children of his own, as well as foster children. Eccentric (took baths with his pet raccoon), a hilarious after dinner speaker, devoted husband and father, church deacon, boat builder, bicyclist, and union pioneer: Michael Crowley will be missed.

Selective Prosecution Continued from page 8

EERA violation When an employer discriminates against one union and its members, while treating another union or group of employees more favorably, it inherently violates the EERA. Cases hold that restricting a union’s access to employees and refusing them permission to distribute

campaign literature is inherently destructive of employee rights. Similarly, disparate treatment of employees is recognized as being inherently destructive of employee rights. In this district, one union’s support of an incumbent, one administrator’s email about a District bond

measure, and two incumbent Board members’ use of the internet and an internet “connection” to SMCCD to distribute “political” advocacy did not draw the District’s ire. Yet the District objected to, and made a criminal accusation of, an AFT 1493 staff member’s similar or related political activities, but in support

of a challenger-candidate. AFT 1493 does not believe the internet uses discussed here violate Education Code section 7054, as interpreted in San Leandro, because the internet and the District’s internet connections are available to all sides and have multiple uses. The union is pursuing this ULP to assure

that the District ceases and desists in applying a different standard to AFT 1493, one that stifles its ability to advocate, and chills the exercise of Constitutional freedom of speech by all employees and the union. by Robert Bezemek and David Conway


May 2012

ACTIVISM AND POLICY

P E R S P E C TIVE

Q

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BOB RIHA, JR. PHOTO

Students, faculty oppose “creative” plan

May Day comes to Santa Monica College T

he event that brought a hundred and fifty students, faculty, and their labor and community supporters to the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees meeting on May 1 shouldn’t have happened.

At the previous Trustees meeting on April 3, a large group of students showed up, intending to address the Trustees’ controversial plan, announced a couple of weeks

in!” Campus police panicked and pepper sprayed more than two dozen students along with a four year-old girl. Last year, SMC sponsored AB 515 (Brownley) a bill to legal-

“President Tsang didn’t say a thing and wouldn’t look at the student speakers. A couple of students got angry about it. One student asked, “What’s so interesting about the lights on the ceiling that you can’t look at me while I’m speaking?” earlier, to charge drastically higher fees for core classes beginning Summer 2012. An administrator had promised to move the board meeting to a larger room to accommodate the students, but for some reason that hadn’t occurred. As students massed at the doorway, they chanted, “Let us in, let us

ize two-tier fees at community colleges, but the bill stalled in the Senate Education Committee. Then two months ago SMC president Chui Tsang proposed that the 34,000-student college try to circumvent the law and create a non-profit foundation that would offer core classes, such as English and math, but

charge as much as $200 per unit. It was this proposal the students and faculty were trying to address on April 3 when the police assaulted them. Afterwards Tsang blamed the students. “Although a number of participants at the meeting engaged in unlawful conduct, Santa Monica College police personnel exercised restraint,” he asserted later in a statement. “Santa Monica College regrets that a group of people chose to disrupt a public meeting in an unlawful manner.” “It’s a strange time we are living in when people who are outraged by social injustice and the lack of democracy in our schools and society are seen as the crazy ones,” responded Harrison Wills, student body president, in an internet comment.

Embarrassment The ugly incident received national media coverage, embarrassing the college administration. This is the reason, contends CFT/CCC president Carl Friedlander, why the college did not move forward to implement the new

CFT president Joshua Pechthalt added his voice to more than two hours of speakers on May 1 denouncing the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees’ idea to implement a two tier fee scheme.

fee program this summer as it had planned. Friedlander told The Perspective, “In the press it looked like the plan was pulled because of a call from system Chancellor Jack Scott to the Santa Monica College president alerting him that both Scott and Attorney-General Kamala Harris believed the Foundation scheme was illegal. But Tsang believes he and SMC’s attorney know better, and they are simply postponing implementation in the hope outrage over the pepper spray dies down.” The next Trustees meeting fell on May 1. The Occupy Wall Street movement had called for a “general strike” on May 1, and workers and students across the country responded with a variety of actions. Santa Monica students who participate in the Student Mobilizing General Assembly and their allies made plans to show up at the Trustees meeting to denounce the fee increases and the pepper spraying. An LACCD student activist, Marcos Perez, who attends Valley College, helped to organize turnout from the neighboring district’s student body. On May 1 around a hundred and fifty students, faculty, and union members gathered outside the campus theater. Many of the students had also been there the night of the pepper spraying.

Demands Their list of five demands included: Abandon the two tier fee plan; hold normal winter and summer sessions; a transparent and independent investigation into the spraying incident; scholarships for AB 540 students; and democratic input from students, staff and faculty into major decisions affecting them. Inside the theater, two and a half hours worth of speakers

urged the board to drop the two-tier fee scheme and support the student demands. Speakers included Friedlander, CFT President Josh Pechthalt, L.A. Labor Fed leader Maria Elena Durazo, AFT 1521 President Joanne Waddell, UNITE HERE members from local hotels with children at SMC, CFA chapter president David Bradfield from nearby CSU Dominguez Hills, past and present FACCC presidents John McDowell and Dennis Frisch, pastor Bridie Roberts and Oscar De la Torre, a Santa Monica-Malibu Unified board member, among others.

Staring off into space According to Friedlander, “The board members were politely attentive but President Tsang didn’t say a thing and wouldn’t look at the student speakers. A couple of students got angry about it. One student asked, “What’s so interesting about the lights on the ceiling that you can’t look at me while I’m speaking?” At the end board members responded. Board president Margaret Quiñones-Perez was supportive. She said, “I just can’t imagine, having heard all this, why this board would consider going forward. We’re supposed to be progressive; why would some of you think you know more than all the students and faculty speaking here, all the statewide organizations, including the student senate?” The other four elected board members (two were absent), were either defensive or defiant. Several argued that the two-tier proposal was a “creative local solution” to the problem of shrunken access. But the battle is clearly not over at Santa Monica College. By Fred Glass and David Bacon


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P E R S P E C TI V E

May 2012

Local Action Part-time faculty union fights for fair priorities Like part-time faculty in community colleges across California, members of the Part-Time Faculty Association of Allan Hancock College in Santa Maria feel under pressure. This is the fourth time since their association joined the California Federation of Teachers that they’ve sat down with their district to negotiate, and the economic climate is worse than ever. Mark Miller, association president, says the union has three goals in contract reopeners. “What we’ve put on the table are compensation, work load and evaluations.” The union’s proposals on evaluations haven’t been contentious. But the economic issues have been. “The district tells us they have no money,” he fumes, “and we haven’t had a raise in five years. Yet the board raised the district president’s salary 2.1%, retroactive to last July.” Board members themselves receive a $240 payment for attending meetings (plus travel and expenses), and get fully paid health insurance. Exacerbating tension is a board proposal to increase district reserves from 6% to 10%. The district had a budget surplus for the 2010-2011 fiscal year of $9 million. “Meanwhile, they’re cutting secretaries and turning students away,” Miller charges. “You do not help students achieve their goals by withholding funds while at the same time cutting the number of classes being offered, which the board is doing by increasing the budget reserve. You do not help students achieve their goals by treating their college as if it were a corporation determined to show a profit, rather than as an institution of higher learning.”

Advocates parity

Overcoming divide and conquer “We’re overcoming that old divide and conquer mentality,”

Miller explains. So far, they’ve held meetings of their leadership to

Students join protest against Board priorities at Coast Community College Board meeting on May 2.

exchange information regarding the district’s stance in bargaining with each unit. At the end of April Miller and the union went public, and exposed the district’s misplaced budget priorities in an oped piece in the local paper, the Santa Maria Times. “Actions speak louder than words, and the actions of the board and administration speak volumes,” Miller wrote. “While the board and administration pay lip service to putting students first, their actions tell a different story. Every year, the number of classes offered decreases. The overall number of faculty declines. Services are cut. While the district pleads poverty, its actions make it clear it has money when it wants to. The actions of the district send a clear message: if sacrifices are to be made, they must be made by those least able to bear them— students, classified staff and teachers. “It is time for the board to show its priorities are on education. It is time for the board and administration to show they want students to achieve their educational goals.” See entire op-ed in “Commentary” section of the Santa Maria Times, April 27, 2012. By David Bacon

Orange County Coast CC faculty, staff, and

students say, “Chop from the Top!” Last spring the administration of the Coast Community College District demanded concessions from the unions representing faculty and classified staff, and threatened layoffs if they didn’t agree. Suddenly, in June, the district discovered that it had more money and stopped the threats and concession demands. This fall district negotiators hit the replay button. They cancelled six of eight scheduled negotiation sessions with the Coast Federation of Educators, AFT Local 1911. In sessions where district negotiators did show up, they made the same concession demand: if faculty didn’t agree to a three percent cut in salaries, they’d lay off classified workers, represented by the Coast Federation of Classified Employees, AFT Local 4794. The same concession demands were made in the bargaining sessions for them. The faculty union, whose

contract expires in June, represents 650 full time instructors and part timers who teach loads greater than 50%. The classified union, also in negotiations, represents 750 workers; it has already lost 100 positions through attrition. Now labs have no support, while student services function with a skeleton staff. “I told them there were already too many vacancies among faculty and classifieds,” recalls Dean Mancina, Local 1911 president. “They told me hiring was a management right, and to butt out. So I warned them not to spend money on managers in the fall, and come crying to us again in spring about needing more cuts.” Unfortunately, that’s exactly what the district did. Over the past year it hired 20 managers at salaries ranging from $100,00 to $200,000 annually, plus benefits and perks. In addition, the board agreed to give Coast’s six top administrators 11% raises, saying they were underpaid by comparison with administrators in the surrounding area. The district’s actions provoked outrage among faculty, staff, and students. “Even though we’re already turning away thousands of students,” Mancina explains, “they began cutting even more classes to create a drop in enrollment. They plan to go into “stabilization,” using a provision of the Education Code that would allow them to continue to collect the same amount of money from the state as they did last year, which is allowed for districts that face fiscal difficulties due to a sudden drop in enrollment.” As a result, he predicted, for the coming summer session Coast would offer 85 classes. “That means the 85 faculty positions teaching those classes would be supervised by the 100 administrators the district will then employ,” he commented. In the meantime, the district has announced it will send out layoff notices to 51 classified workers. “Many of these workers are the sole support of their families. This will really hurt people, at the same time they’re hiring executives.” Anger boiled over May 2. 350 demonstrators converged to rally outside the board meeting. So many went inside that people were standing against the walls at the sides of the room. Other unions showed up in support. The Orange County Labor Federation’s representative warned the board that workers throughout the county were

watching its actions. Members of the large Vietnamese immigrant community expressed concern they might lose ESL classes. Students chanted “Chop from the top,” and “More classes, less lazy asses.” OCC student Kate Turner told the local newspaper that how faculty “are treated will be reflected in their ability to teach us.” One board member infuriated classified workers by saying that some managers hadn’t had a raise for two years, to which a worker responded that he hadn’t had one in five years. Trustee Jerry Paterson said the presidents of the district’s three colleges and the district’s three vice chancellors received salary increases to keep the district competitive. “We thought we’d lose them (administrators) to the marketplace,” he said. Members of the two AFT locals are chagrined that board members for whom they’d campaigned seemed unsympathetic. Mancina recalled trying to challenge district fiscal projections in a meeting with board president Joe Moreno. “After lecturing me about the district predictions, which we think are based on false assumptions, I tried to show him our figures. He just shoved our document back at me, and said we were simply going to have to take the cut.” Mancina notes that in 1992 the district actually did lay off employees, which led to a recall of board members. “Three trustees are up for election this fall, so there could be some real consequences to the action they’re threatening.” by David Bacon

San Mateo Selective prosecution: AFT 1493 files ULP charge against District arising out of Board election AFT local 1493 has filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) charge against the San Mateo Community College District with the California Public Employment Relations Board, alleging the district engaged in selective, discriminatory and disparate treatment of AFT 1493 in violation of the Educational Employment Relations Act (EERA).

Last fall, the SMCCD demanded that a union staff member “recall” an email he had received at his work email and then forwarded to his personal email “list” of about 50 colleagues and union officers, since that email contained “political” advocacy from a challengercandidate to the District’s Board of Trustees. The District also demanded that the staff member not send similar “political” emails in the future. Criminal allegations Subsequently, the District submitted criminal allegations against the staffer to the District Attorney stemming from that email, accusing him of violating Education Code section 7054, which forbids community college officers and employees to use “college district funds, services, supplies or equipment” “for the purpose of urging the support or defeat of any ballot measure or candidate.” AFT 1493 denies the District’s allegations. The union lawyers advised the DA that section 7054 did not apply to union staff, because, among other reasons, the law is directed at the “political activities of school employees” and school officers (Education Code § 7050-7051). The next day, the district emailed “all employees” notifying them the District was turning over employee emails to the DA as part of a criminal investigation. AFT has requested the District disclose whose emails it turned over, and how it searched through faculty emails for “political advocacy” materials. The union’s ULP charge alleges that the District concurrently, and for years, has permitted its administrators, Board members, and other employees use of its email and other electronic communication devices to engage in comparable political activities, and is now discriminating against AFT 1493 support of a challenger-candidate to the Board. At the District, electronic communications with political advocacy and endorsements have also been issued by the classified staff union through its newsletter, which is stored and available on the District-provided and supported webpage. continued on page 6 PRISCILLA LUVIANO PHOTO

The union hasn’t yet put its own salary proposal on the table, but in general it has advocated parity with full-time faculty. “We want a plan to achieve that in a certain number of years,” he says. Right now, parttimers are at 76%. “We’re also trying to strengthen our seniority clause, by including non-credit faculty and counselors,” Miller says. “We’ve told the district that if seniority is OK for credit faculty, then it should be OK for the others too.” That would cover about 200 of the 500 people in the unit. In the past, bargaining units at Hancock have faced the district separately, since they are represented by different unions or associations. The California School Employees Association represents classified workers, while full-time faculty belong to their own independent association. This time, however, they’re working together.

PRISCILLA LUVIANO PHOTO

Santa Maria

Golden West College counselor and Coast Federation of Educators vice-president Stephanie Dumont speaks at rally before May 2 Board of Trustees meeting.

Perspective, May 2012  

Community College Council

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