Help California Community College Wildfire Victims

In the past two years, wildfires have taken a particularly deadly and damaging toll on Californians from Ventura County in the South, to the Carr and Mendicino Complex fires in the Counties of Shasta, Mendicino, and Lake in the North.

While this might seem an item more connected to general news, the fact of the matter is that these fires have greatly impacted students and faculty who have lost work, homes, and in one tragic case, their lives.

Jeremy-Stoke-official-320x438

This is Jeremy Stoke.  He was a Fire Inspector for Shasta County, and an Adjunct Instructor for the Shasta College Fire Academy.  He lost his life while assisting others escape the fire.

He was/is a hero, and adjuncts, he was one of us.

For me these fires carry a personal weight.  John Rall, one of the co-founders of Adjunct Crisis, who now teaches at Mendicino College, is presently under evacuation orders and cannot return to his home.  My Stepmother’s oldest brother, Eldon Diettert, died in the infamous Mann Gulch Fire of 1949.  Eldon was a college Freshman doing a Summer job as a firefighter.  My father worked as a Physical Sciences Technician for the US Forest Service helping to develop fire retardant and aerial firefighting techniques.

Below are links to sites where you can help students and faculty affected by these fires.  Please do.

Shasta College

https://www.gofundme.com/shasta-college-employee-help

Mendicino College

https://give.classy.org/mcgiving2018

Take care and be safe.

Geoff Johnson

A “Good” Adjunct

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Campus Equity Week 2018: It’s Happening Here, but It’s Up to You to Make it Happen at Your Campus

 

Good Adjuncts,

Around this time last year, I gave my first post on Campus Equity Week for the year 2017.  Traditionally, Campus Equity Week was held every other year during non-election years at the end of October.

As I’ve also stated, I’ve made it a mission of mine to see that it is observed every year, and tied to adjunct actions in the Spring (like National Adjunct Action/Walkout Day) which help us to push budgetary, legislative, and even electoral goals (Ex. Proposition 55).

Both the San Diego and Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College Districts, along with the Southwestern Community College Districts, will be observing Campus Equity Week October 22nd-26th this year.

I am working with both the AFT/CFT Partime Committee and the NEA/CTA/CCA Part-time Faculty Issues Committee to help them make Campus Equity Week happen in one form or another on other California Community College Campuses.

To this end I will be working with CFT to update the Campus Equity Week Toolkit, and when the PTFIC has materials in place, I will share them on this site. To this end, if you, in your respective AFT locals, think you have good stuff and would like to share it, please submit it to me via email at mixinminao@gmail.com, and we’ll see if we can add it to the toolkit, with your permission.

Over the next four months, I’ll be weighing in on what I’m doing.  If you look through this site, you will note that I have written upon a variety of activities you can do, and constituent groups you should talk with.  It’s hardly an exhaustive list, but it should get you pointed in the right direction.

As I coordinate events at the aforementioned community colleges, and work with the following committees on these projects, I am doing all I can. I can’t help you organize your sites or your adjunct/contingents, full-time faculty, staff, and students (by the way, if you’re able, you should get all these groups involved).

Will Campus Equity Week happen at your campuses?

That is entirely up to you.

Geoff Johnson

A “Good” Adjunct

The Post-Janus Path Forward

On June 28th, while I was in the midst of considering the impact of one of my locals losing dues from over 300 “fee-payers,” I saw a piece of commentary titled, “Why the Supreme Court Ruling on Unions Could Be Good for Adjuncts” by Keith Hoeller, a retired philosophy adjunct from Washington state.

In the commentary, Hoeller primarily argues that 1) particularly wall-to-wall (those faculty unions will both full-time and part-time members) have systematically underserved the needs and interests of full-time faculty; 2) that, clearly, adjuncts would be served better by adjunct-only unions; and 3) that the path to this is by adjuncts pushing for the de-certification of wall-to-wall units, with the apparent goal of using the leverage to realize supposedly one-tier faculty labor system known as the “Vancouver Model,” whereby uncoming part-time instructors are paid at the proportional full-time rate, and, after teaching a 50%+ load for more than 18 months, would become full time.

Along with this, Hoeller also effectively called for an end to the tenure system, and additionally asserted that in California, it was,CPFA, the California Part-Time Faculty Association, that had been responsible for improvements in adjunct/contingent working conditions, rather than the unions that represent them.

What Hoeller does here is take his first assertion, which sadly has some truth to it, then follow with a series of some questionable and outright false assertions before calling for adjunct/contingents to undertake a risky labor action which may in fact cost them any collective bargaining rights in the quest for an ideal, but a tremendously costly and politically unachievable goal in light not only of the current political environment, but of a political environment which in truth has existed for over 40 years.

As an adjunct who faced the threat of homelessness, and has been on some form of public assistance in the past and on more than one occasion, I fully get the anger, frustration, and sense of desperation.

But the Janus decision will not work as a bargaining chip to get better things for adjuncts in the long run. The threat of opt-out language has had teachers’ groups nervous and watchful for years.

First, it’s hardly a secret that full-time faculty in many but certainly not all wall-to-wall locals have placed full-time priorities over adjunct/contingent needs.

I am in fact familiar with one local, whose union affiliation has since changed, in which the leadership took state equity money meant for adjuncts and diverted it to full-time salaries.

That said, there are a number of locals within the California Community College System who have won their adjuncts health insurance and paid part-time office hours. Moreover, many of these same locals have sought to consistently give adjuncts higher percentage pay raises than full-timers to progressively more towards pay equity within the budgetary limitations created by a fiscally conservative governor. Much of this was achieved when adjuncts became more participatory in their wall-to-wall unions, and in the case of Cabrillo and Ventura Community Colleges, actually assumed leadership.

Separate full-time and part-time units, in a number cases, are often the result of full-timers wanting to disregard the interests of part-timers in favor of their own exclusively. This cuts directly against what Hoeller asserts. I myself wonder how pay equity is achieved with separate bargaining units when a simple “me too” clause would necessarily force administrators to give across-the-board raises to both full and adjunct units at the same percentages.

It’s better to make full-time faculty aware that adjunctification and the exploitative incentives which fuel it will ultimately harm their own working conditions, student learning, and academic freedom.

Hoeller also claims that whatever improvements that have come for adjuncts in California were the result of CPFA’s advocacy, and not unions like CTA and AFT/CFT. This is false.

CPFA is a relatively small organization which has maybe 100-200 paying members, and a smaller core of maybe 50 activists. While CPFA has called for improvements in working conditions, the actual legislation and budget lobbying was in much larger proportion done by CTA, AFT, and other groups like FAAAC, and the California Community College Academic Senate. I can speak to this directly as a member of CFT’s legislative committee. Our pushes for categorical funding for pay equity, paid adjunct office hours, along with maternity leave legislation, etc, were not generated by CPFA influence. Hoeller’s assertion is in fact an insult to the very hard work done by union officers, staff, and rank and file members, both adjunct and full-time, in mobilizing support, giving testimony, and lobbying legislatures to do the right thing.

But if Hoeller’ s claims here are problematic, his solution to the problem would in fact be seriously injurious. De-certing a union is no small enterprise, requiring the consent of over half a union’s given membership, both adjunct and full-time. Any such action requires a high degree of disaffection with a union, but it may also mean, among some faculty disaffection with the very concept of a union itself. Those who de-cert may not be inclined to have any union, leaving those adjuncts who had and wanted union protections and collective bargaining completely without power.

This said, what’s more likely to happen is for disgruntled adjuncts to simply become non-members, weakening the bargaining power of their union.

And by the way, this wouldn’t lead to the realization of a “Vancouver “Model” anytime soon if ever.

First of all, the “Vancouver Model” is supposedly a system which eliminates the two-tiered adjunct/full-time model, except that it doesn’t–you have to be teaching over 50% over 18 months to get a full-time position. Even if this system were adopted, admin would likely find ways to string adjuncts along at under 50% for years, or simply fire/rehire them every fourth semester (Ever heard of “churning” anyone?).

Of course, there’s the idea that adjuncts would be paid at the same rate as full-timers proportionately. Good idea. Damn straight, should happen.

I just have one question. Where’s the money going to come from?

Here’s a little surprise–they hire adjuncts because we’re cheaper. They don’t hire full-timers as much as they should because they cost more money.

Realizing the Vancouver Model, at a typical California Community College, where 50% of sections are taught by adjunct making half as much as full-timers, would conservatively require an increase in a school’s ongoing budget of at least 25% and likely more like 35+%, once you kick in the health insurance and other benefits that would have to be accorded to the new full-timers.

And by the way, what about all the Classified Staff who are adjunctified as well? Don’t you think they wouldn’t want, or deserve similar equitable working conditions?

In order for this to happen at public institutions, a particular state would need to bring in significantly more revenues. We’re talking billions of dollars just for the California Community College System. While Californians have passed limited revenue-enhancing measures in the past, and might go along with a proposition to raise funds, it’s not likely to the degree or extent it would take to make the Vancouver model viable in the immediate future. There still needs to be a significant cultural, and subsequently, electoral change at all levels of government for this to occur.

However, a bigger obstacle to overcome to move towards a Vancouver Model in California would be Ed Code language covering the hiring process for full-time hires. Written in part to supposedly insure against undue impartiality and equal opportunity, this code, commonly referred to as Title V, prevents straight adjunct to full-time conversions, and demands a significant advertising of an open position, and then a fairly rigorous vetting and interview process. Because it is in part tied to EEOC regulations, amending it has always been a place legislators avoid for fear of an obvious backlash on the grounds such actions could lead to discriminatory practices.

And this is coupled with the fact that though the adjunct population is more culturally and racially diverse than the full-time population at a given campus, it still is, for the most part, primarily white, and significantly more so than the students they teach, or the community at large.

This is not to say that this disparity has in part to do with minority individuals, out of economic challenge, either not seeking advanced degrees for low-paying jobs–it does–the fact still remains that higher ed faculty, both adjunct and full-time, need to be more diverse, and until this happens, Title V will be hard to amend.

Of course, adjuncts and other supportive souls can still, in spite of all this, push for a Vancouver Model, but they don’t need to de-cert their unions to do it and form separate adjunct unions. On that note, how does creating two separate bargaining units lead to a one-tier system? This seems awfully counter-intuitive.

Hoeller also has it in for tenure, which he simply views as merely a lifetime employment policy for full-time faculty, rather than as a tool meant for the protection of academic freedom.

Coming from Montana, and growing up in Missoula, a college town, I heard stories of how mining interests, among other extraction industries, would seek to have professors fired for publishing research which in fact would show how their activities were inflicting ecological damage and potentially endangering the public. Tenure protected these academics so that they could in turn protect the common interest.

What tenure is really about is not an individual academic’s job security. It’s really about insisting that if an academic is to be fired, it is with just cause, and that the instructor is given a chance to defend his or her self.

Ultimately, this is what rehire rights language is all about–ensuring that adjunct instructors who have proven themselves receive continued teaching assignments, and at a certain load, unless it can be established that their teaching was persistently subpar, or that they violated the terms of their contract through unethical, inappropriate, or criminal behavior.

Of course, it’s not tenure, because adjuncts are still only hired on a contingency basis, and yes,  there are problems with rehire rights language even in the places that have it, but this is one of the challenges of negotiation—you persistently need to work to expand it. Another thing adjuncts should encourage their locals to do is to look at the evaluation process, as is being called for by UC Lecturers, who are arguing that, as student evaluations carry with them sex and gender bias, they no longer be used as a tool for determining whether a lecturer should be rehired or not.

The path forward is for adjuncts to further involve themselves and engage other adjuncts on the periphery within the structure of a union, and aim towards realistic and tangible goals in the short term, with the intention of creating a tipping point towards more substantive change.

And adjuncts will need full-time allies to achieve this.

Yes, it’s slow, it’s messy, and there will be those full-timers who don’t get it, but adjuncts and the full-timers who support us are the majority.  We can and will prevail.  Consider that for academics to organize in general was a fight in California that took decades, as it has elsewhere. We can’t stop now, or those who truly keep us down, those who hate unions and favor the exploitation of all workers in general, will win.

A National Adjunct/Contingent Caucus: What it Can and Should Be.

On July 14th at the Biennial AFT National Convention, members of the American Federation of Teachers Adjunct Contingent Caucus will convene to select caucus leaders who, in the face of a post-Janus America, along the increasing threats expanding labor contingency and academic corporatization, must work in conferring with and guiding AFT to more effectively understand and act upon adjunct contingent Issues.  To be effective at this task, here are the basic steps and actions it must undertake, or encourage the High Ed. Division of AFT to undertake:

  1. Define and Recognize the Varying Degrees of Educational Labor Contingency

Adjunct/Contingent teacher plight is in part plagued by a literal soup of job titles from, “part-time” and “adjunct,” to “associate,” “lecturer,” and “non-tenure track.” The wide variety of these terms, none of which are truly understood by a general, non-academic public, only serves to shroud the nature of their exploitation under a false narrative which suggests such teachers/instructors/and professors are “professionals,” in the sense that they are fairly remunerated, enjoy job security, and benefits, and possess collegially equal footing with their full-time, contracted and tenure-track coworkers.

One thing all these adjunct/contingent instructors share is precarity.  In this regard, the Adjunct-Contingent caucus should impress upon the AFT that any instructor who consigns to work under these conditions out of economic or professional necessity is in fact a precarious worker, and that at as a central mission, AFT is dedicated to the reduction and ultimately the elimination of academic precarity.

This is itself a first step, which has been partially addressed by resolution. However, working conditions vary from not simply state to state, but from system to system, and sometimes from institution to institution. Most locals, and even larger state federations, lack knowledge of the variances.  While certainly some of this is controlled via local contracts, many of limitation/classifications imposed on these workers via state law or code. This often involves, but is not limited to the following:

  • Cap limitations (restrictions on teaching above a particular “full-time” percentage at a given institutions or within a given district.)
  • Contract limitations (restrictions on how long a person’s term of employment may be before they are given a permanent, or long-term contract.)
  • Re-hire rights (do teachers working term-by-term have, provided if classes are available, a reasonable expectation that they will be rehired in a successive term, and entitled to some due process if not.)
  • Access to unemployment or retirement benefits.

The Adjunct-Contingent caucus should then work with AFT to create a readily access electronic resource which allows members in one state or system to access and see what is happening in other systems without having to wade through state Ed code or local contracts to do it.

  1. Facilitate inter-system and inter-Federation discussion of Adjunct/Contingent Issues

Presently, the Adjunct/Contingent Committees of various systems within particular state federations do not interact.  For example, in California, UC Lecturers and AFT Community College “Part-timers” only come into contact with one another peripherally and then only really within a Higher Ed. resolutions session within a State Convention which is now only going to be held biennially. Their interaction at the last convention led to the passage of a Cap-raising resolution for Community College faculty, and the passage of a resolution calling for rehire rights language legislation for UC faculty.  More could be accomplished in terms of resolution and legislative policy were this interaction to more frequently occur.

Further, there needs to be interaction between Adjunct/Committees from different state federations. While preferably this interaction should be physical and in person, this interaction might be cost effectively achieved through wider usage of Zoom, Blue Jeans, or even Google Hangouts.

AFT needs to take advantage of electronic technology to put adjunct officers and representatives in better contact with one another.

  1. Provide a Tracking of Individual State Budget or Legislative Campaigns Concerning Adjunct/Contingent Workers

The California Federation of Teachers, generally by late November, is able to list its budgeting priorities, and by early Spring is able to indicate what bills it is sponsoring. Publicization of these priorities, in conjunction with adjunct organizing and mobilization has led to some modest successes.  Having an updated, but simple and basic list of these priorities for each federation published nationally would allow other federations to draw inspiration, consider their own priorities, and create greater solidarity.  AFT communications could arrange for this data to be reported from the state feds to them, and then posted on a national site.

  1. Update Contact Information Regarding All Higher Ed Locals and Indicating whether those locals represent exclusively represent adjunct/contingents, full-timers, or are wall-to-wall units.

Presently, much of the information provided on AFT’s main site is out-of-date or vague regarding various locals.  Only if this information is up-to-date and complete can it fully facilitate understanding.

  1. The Creation of Timed, Monitored Discussion Boards focused on Specific Contract or Adjunct Issues

Because of the prohibitive cost of travel and the limited time frame that exists within a 2-3 day conference, or even a week long retreat.  The creation of a board focused on, say rehire rights, ancillary duties, or healthcare, may be far more useful, AFT Staffers with specialties in these fields and having and the opportunity to examine and negotiate multiple contracts could serve as moderators.

  1. Better Outreach to Isolated Locals who are not Active within their Respective Federations

Within the CFT, many locals will not send representatives to either State Councils, CFT committees, or the State Convention.  Notably, many of these same locals also have some of the poorest working conditions for Adjunct/Contingent Faculty.  Many of these locals are strapped for resources, and may lack the knowledge expertise and generally encouragement to improve their unit members working conditions. AFT should encourage federation staffers to make available to committee members the contact information of adjunct officers within these isolated locals for the purposes of creating greater knowledge support, and solidarity.

  1. Provide Grant Monies so that Empowered Adjuncts Might Help in the Accomplishment of the Aforementioned Points

Many of AFT’s staffers are already stretched. Providing grant monies for motivated adjuncts to assist in the accomplishment of these tasks would be an effective way to help take the weight off of AFT staffers, and allow Adjunct/Contingent members to engage in greater self-reliance, and for some who are financially strapped, a chance for some small income.

These seven steps would be first points that an Adjunct-Contingent Caucus should strive towards, while at the same time pushing/promoting larger adjunct issues/campaigns that extend beyond Higher Ed. to the general economy and society as a whole.  Contingency is itself driven by forces which seek to reduce the human condition to a commodity to be necessarily undervalued and had on the cheap to the advantage of those who learn how to game the system.  We simply need to end the game.

On the Use of Competitive Hiring to Erode Tenure by Adjunctification

Following are comments made in an email thread on which proposed language changes affecting adjuncts in AFT 1931 in SCCCD were debated. They might be of interest to other adjuncts or full-timers having similar debates elsewhere. The proposed changes include improving seniority rights, a provision for mandatory interviews when full-time positions are available, and efforts to improve the struggle of freeway fliers, including two week cancellation pay. Some full-time faculty have vehemently opposed the changes. The comments have been slightly edited.

Here are my comments in support of the proposed changes to the contract language being discussed in this thread as well as an attempt (an inadequate one) to put the discussion in a larger context that might allow us to see our situation more clearly. I beg your indulgence.

The human condition is richly ironic. Our best intentions often go awry and we end up accomplishing the opposite of our original aims. This has happened with the competitive hiring process in search of the “best” at community colleges.

The competitive hiring process was instituted to ensure that the hiring of faculty was just, that it offered equal opportunity to all candidates. The result has been mixed at best. Nationally, the lion’s share of tenured positions in academe belongs still to white males. Most diversity hires have been in adjunct positions. Sixty percent of adjuncts are women. It is a sacred cow. We should slaughter it and make burgers at a unity barbecue.

Someone in the thread stated that the hiring process is “broken.” The hiring process is not so much broken as it has been coopted through underfunding into the means of eroding tenure, resulting in a two-tiered system that divides faculty. We think in terms of “adjunct interests” and “full-time interests,” and accept the proliferation of adjuncts as some naturally occurring phenomenon. If the system had worked as intended, and full-time hiring had proceeded at a pace that maintained the percentage required by law, many who are adjuncts but who would prefer full-time employment would have been hired full-time many years ago. Implying, whether you intend it or not, that adjuncts are adjuncts because they are not of the “best” quality, is condescending as well as impossible to support.

Adjunctification is an unwieldy neologism that is necessary to name this slow erosion of tenure that has been happening now for decades. The defunding of higher education is a core cause. But the long, slow process of increasing reliance on adjuncts, especially in community colleges, has other causes, interrelated and somewhat embedded in our collective psyche. One cause is the failure of faculty to resist with enough force to stop it. Another is the blind belief in the American ideology of individual success. Those who win the lottery of tenure have every reason to feel good about it. But they often have forgotten those left behind who are equally qualified, but not as lucky. Yes, they feel powerless, and with good reason: decreasing faculty power accompanies adjunctification. These are only a couple of causes of this complex transformation, but, at any rate, we have become divided and on the verge of being conquered, unless that has already happened and we didn’t notice it because our heads were in the sand when it happened.

The collective faculty head has been in the sand now for decades. Allow me to note some data: in 1970, 75% of higher education faculty nationally were full-time, tenure-track. As the SDCCD 2017-2018 Facts on File reports, 81% of faculty in our district are adjunct, close to the national percentage. That’s down from 87% in the last SDCCD report. How many such decreases will we need to reach the 75% full-time faculty status or even the 75% credit hours required by AB 1725? How can we accept this? We should be stunned by these numbers, but we’re not. At least not enough to consider advocating for revision of the legal code. Yes, that would be radical. It seems unimaginable to us.

The most common sense comment I saw in this thread was the suggestion by Marina Cohen, retired IT adjunct:

“Most adjuncts are not even considered for full time jobs when they come up, even if they apply. That needs to change, as well.  Adjuncts should be the first in line for full time positions if they have the credentials and a good record. Even “part time” loyalty need to be rewarded. Hire from within FIRST. Go outside ONLY if you cannot get the qualified personnel from your experienced part time staff. “

Yes, I know legal code is rarely common sense and that the language of Title V is problematic. But can we make sense? Does it make sense that only 20% of those qualified to teach full-time at a community college are deemed good enough for full-time employment? And what are the effects of this condition on students? (Not good, according to City College student Ryan Rising). Perhaps what we can do to resist is unclear, but we should at least do something, even if it is as modest as the proposed changes to the contract.

Adjunctification is inherently unjust. Make no mistake, we’re not talking about an appropriate use of a few faculty, retirees or those who do not desire full-time employment as an academic, to address fluctuating enrollment, or some other need. We’re talking about the transformation of higher education faculty from full-time status to part-time status, a transformation that parallels the larger global shift to worker precarity described by Guy Standing. The adjunct is the precariat of higher education, on the edge of financial (in)security, serially unemployed, debt-ridden, hoping to get lucky. This may not describe every individual, but it is generally apt.

The proposed changes in contract language regarding adjuncts is a modest, local effort to address adjunctification and its pernicious effects on the “game” of higher education, effects which are detrimental to both the unlucky precariat adjunct and the tenure-track, not to mention the student. To see the proposed changes as somehow is to miss what’s happening right before your eyes. Adjunctification is how we will be/have been divided and conquered, especially if the Janus case turns out as expected. We need unity if we want to maintain the integrity of community college education. And we need a new vision of how to reverse adjunctificiation if the union is to remain strong after Janus.

Rainy Adjunct Action Day/NAWD at Mesa College 2018

In the interest of coordination with other protest events, our humble but serious Adjunct Action Day NAWD took place today. A last minute change was the accommodation of the national school walkout to protest gun violence in schools, which conflicted with our planned protest. We altered our start time to 10:20 from 10:00. Of course, we addressed gun violence. Also addressed, in several short speeches, including comments by, among others, me, Geoff, Jesus Gaytan, and one of our supportive board members, Peter Zschiesche, were taxing the richest to pay for free community college, appealing to the governor to increase adjunct office hour pay, the injustice being perpetrated on DACA students, and ending adjunctification by hiring all or most of the 87% adjunct faculty at Mesa College, a quick and efficient solution, into full-time positions, paid for by a tax on, you guessed it, the richest’s ill-gotten gains.

In my brief time at the mic, I asked why it’s acceptable for employees at community colleges to work a career (18 years, so far, in my case) with part-time status, when this is still frowned upon in most other areas of employment. Yes, I know the neoliberal agenda is unfolding, full speed ahead, and the gig economy is growing by leaps and bounds. But I protest, nevertheless.

Here, on a rainy day in San Diego, Geoff Johnson is introducing our speakers.

I know there is no rain in the picture. But, a rainy day it was, in the desert.

We did have a heckler, bag full of alternative facts, who kept trying to hijack our comments by asking, trying to talk over the responses, why rich people should be taxed or should have to pay for things for other people, like it was an undue burden on them. My answer was, “because they have all the money!” He offered choice alternative facts on gun control and on undocumented people as well. Although offered “better” facts, he rejected them and insisted that, for instance, background checks for gun purchases were already extraordinarily rigorous. He had other “facts,” all of which were shot down.

My comments did not bother him until I openly pondered, akin to the petition, which we touted also,  to have free community college paid for by a dedicated estate tax on property valued at $3.5 million put on the people’s ballot in California, why not have a ballot measure to hire long-time adjuncts into full-time positions paid for in a similar way with some kind of tax on billionaires? It was this inquiry that got him started on the “why should rich people pay for anything?” line. He sparred a little bit with every speaker.

And so there you have it, short but sweet.

Resist!

Peace, Love, and worker solidarity!

Protect Adjunct Jobs and Working Conditions: Tell the Governor to Spend Money on Adjuncts, Not an Online College

Below are two letters concerning Governor Brown’s plan to set aside 120 million dollars for the Community College Chancellor to create a fully online California community college separate from the 112 colleges, all already offering online instruction.

The reasons this is a BAD idea are many, but just know this:

  1. This college would compete with the online courses presently available at other colleges, which would damage enrollment at your school and sending you looking for more work.
  2. This college would hire mostly adjuncts from all over the world, not just the US, and from many places where the wages are low here might be quite high to them elsewhere.
  3. It would have, and these are the words of the Chancellor who would administer it, “meet and confer” status, meaning no real collective bargaining, no union protections, and likely crap wages.

The first is the letter I wrote for Southwestern College.  Below that is a template for the letter you need to write for your college.  To make each letter unique, enter the college you’re teaching at in the first open blank on the template,, and in the second blank, the percentage of classes taught online at your college.

Such information is public knowledge and can be gotten from your college’s office of Institutional Effectiveness. Copy, paste, edit, print out, send:

Here’s the Sample Southwestern Letter, followed by the template you should work from:

Governor Edmund G. Brown

℅ State Capitol, Suite 1173

Sacramento, CA

 

Governor Brown:

In your recent budget summary, and specifically before leading into your discussion of this year’s education budget, you spoke of “moving government closer to the people.”  This in fact has been the impetus of your “Local Control Funding Formula,” or LCFF, designed to direct money to those districts or regions of the state where it is most needed.

While this desire to improve California’s workforce to reach its often most marginalized and disadvantaged population is laudable, your proposal to meet this need via the creation of a California Online Community College, though well-intended, is a step in the wrong direction.

Presently, online education is already widely available throughout California’s 72 Community College Districts and 114 Colleges.  At Southwestern College in Chula Vista, for example, 10.5% of instruction is currently provided fully online, by trained and certified online instructors.  These schools also already provide online counseling and 24-hour asynchronous tutoring.  Community Colleges can already meet the needs of students who cannot attend a traditional campus because of work or other considerations.  At the same time, unlike a fully online academy, students have the option of going to a physical location to have their needs served, such as counseling, tutoring, and health services.

The Online California College is aimed at a particular population of adults who face challenges that will not allow them to attend traditional college such as distance to the nearest college, work schedules or physical limitations that force them to stay home.  Many of these potential students may lack the learning skills and efficacy for formal learning.  For these students, there may the need before or even while taking an online course for more personal, face-to-face attention, or hands on instruction.  Online learning in general requires a high degree of self-discipline and focus, and support to bring such students to this point can be and is provided by existing community colleges.  In this regard, a fully online college cannot solve the problems nor meet the needs of these students.

The creation of an Online California College separate of the existing community colleges will only serve to decrease their enrollment, leading to potential class and program cancellations at these colleges, and in addition, causing many of the most economically at risk educators in the state, adjuncts and classified staff, to lose their jobs.  It is quite likely that with a fully online academy that many teachers will no longer be California residents, or even US residents, and without union protections, will likely be paid less with limited or no benefits. Presently, one in four adjuncts nationwide is on some form of assistance, and increasing the numbers of these adjuncts seeking assistance adds to the problem of poverty in the state.

Rather than spending 120 million dollars on an Online College that creates redundancy and will hurt students, teachers, and their respective communities, this same money would better spent by increasing the number of full-time instructors, including those who are qualified to teach online. Furthermore, increasing both the pay of adjunct or part-time instructors to a more equitable level would allow them to reduce their teaching loads and better serve students, especially those who are teaching online.  Finally, increasing funding for paid part-time instructor office hours, which can be and are currently provided virtually by online instructors, will improve student retention and completion, as a number of studies have shown.

Governor Brown, your desire for a better California is shared, but let us achieve it by properly funding the good work community colleges have the greater potential to do.

 

Name (Please Print):__________________________

Address:___________________________________

___________________________________

Signature:__________________________________

Date:______________________________________

 

Here is the template you should download and use:

Governor Edmund G. Brown

℅ State Capitol, Suite 1173

Sacramento, CA 95814

 

Governor Brown:

In your recent budget summary, and specifically before leading into your discussion of this year’s education budget, you spoke of “moving government closer to the people.”  This in fact has been the impetus of your “Local Control Funding Formula,” or LCFF, designed to direct money to those districts or regions of the state where it is most needed.

While this desire to improve California’s workforce to reach its often most marginalized and disadvantaged population is laudable, your proposal to meet this need via the creation of a California Online Community College, though well-intended, is a step in the wrong direction.

Presently, online education is already widely available throughout California’s 72 Community College Districts and 114 Colleges.  At     [your]    College in  [your city], for example,  [?]  % of instruction is currently provided fully online, by trained and certified online instructors.  These schools also already provide online counseling and 24-hour asynchronous tutoring.  Community Colleges can already meet the needs of students who cannot attend a traditional campus because of work or other considerations.  Unlike a fully online academy, students have the option of going to a physical location to have their needs served, such as counseling, tutoring, and health services.

The Online California College is aimed at a particular population of adults who face challenges that will not allow them to attend traditional college, such as distance to the nearest college, work schedules, or physical limitations that force them to stay home.  Many of these potential students may lack the learning skills and efficacy for formal learning.  For these students then, there may the need before or even while taking an online course for more personal, face-to-face attention, or hands on instruction.  Online learning in general requires a high degree of self-discipline and focus, and support to bring such students to this point can be and is provided by existing community colleges.  In this regard, a fully online college cannot solve the problem nor meets the needs of these students.

The creation of an Online California College separate of the existing community colleges will only serve to decrease their enrollment, leading to potential class and program cancellations at these colleges, and in addition, causing many of the most economically at risk educators in the state, adjuncts and classified staff, to lose their jobs.  It is quite likely that with a fully online academy that many teachers will no longer be California residents, or even US residents, and without union protections, will likely be paid less with limited or no benefits. Presently, one in four adjuncts nationwide is on some form of assistance, and increasing the numbers of these adjuncts seeking assistance adds to the problem of poverty in the state.

Rather than spending 120 million dollars on an Online College that creates redundancy and will hurt students, teachers, and their respective communities, this same money would better spent by increasing the number of full-time instructors, including those who are qualified to teach online.  Furthermore, increasing both the pay of adjunct or part-time instructors to a more equitable level would allow them to reduce their teaching loads and better serve students, especially those who are teaching online.  Finally, increasing funding for paid part-time instructor office hours, which can be and are currently provided virtually by online instructors, will improve student retention and completion, as a number of studies have shown.

Governor Brown, your desire for a better California is shared, but let us achieve it by properly funding the good work community colleges have the greater potential to do.

Sincerely,

Name (Please Print): __________________________

Address:____________________________________

____________________________________

Signature:___________________________________

Date:_______________________________________

Fighting for Paid Part-Time Office Hours: Get Your Letter Templates Here and Give Governor Brown Your Thoughts

Good Adjuncts:

This is a letter to the governor asking for more categorical funding for office hours.  Last year, as a result much effort by many, including a letter campaign similar to this one, we were able to get a 70% increase to the State Part-time Office Hours Fund.  This is still a drop in the bucket to what is needed, because the state only matches 10% of what local districts pay out for office hours.  For this reason, the pay is low, and hours are limited, and that’s if a district actually has a paid office hours program.

We need more money, and this is the letter for it. It’s similar to the letter put out as a part of Campus Equity Week last Fall, but it’s been “freshened up,” and is this time not directed to the Director of Finance, but to the governor himself.  Copy the letter, paste it, make any changes you want, print it, sign it and send it, or better yet print it, make hundreds or thousands of copies, give them to everyone you know, collect them, and send them.

If you want me to send you this letter as a microsoft word attachment, please email me at mixinminao@gmail.com

By the way,  print is better than email.

Let’s get it done

Geoff Johnson

Here’s the letter:

Governor Edmund G. Brown

℅ State Capitol, State 1173

Sacramento, CA 95814

Dear Governor Brown:

In your most recent budget summary, you have made it clear that you take a concerted interest in the achievement of student success.

One of the most significant components in the achievement of student success is a meaningful and productive student-teacher interaction and it is not limited to what happens in a classroom.  These interactions often require students and teachers to meet outside the classroom to discuss student issues that at times may not be just curriculum but other educational matters that are necessary for providing direction and ultimately leading to student success.

It has been found in repeated studies that this outside-the-classroom student interaction is often one of the most critical factors in helping the most at risk and challenged students to succeed. A teacher needs to be more than just a classroom facilitator for the student to succeed.

It then is highly ironic to know that at California Community Colleges approximately 70% of faculty are temporary, part-time, or adjunct instructors, who are largely paid only for their time in the classroom. In addition, because many are disproportionately paid at half the rate or less than their full-time counterparts, these adjunct instructors will often have to travel to other districts to teach, leaving them with limited time to fully interact with their students.

Some of the obvious solutions to increasing this student-teacher interaction would be to hire more full-time instructors to be in compliance with the 75-25 full-time/adjunct ratio that is mandated by AB1725, or to simply provide the funds to pay adjuncts more equitably in relation to their full-time counterparts.

A more immediate step that you and the legislature chose last year was to increase state part-time office hours by providing an additional five million dollars to the office hour fund. While this clearly was a step in the right direction, this fund only covers about 10% of the local part-time office hour funding. This lack of funding leaves many districts to choose to offer very limited office hours (for example,  2-3 hours of paid office hours for an entire semester for a 3-unit course at Southwestern College or a total of 8 hours for the entire semester at Pasadena City College regardless of the number of courses taught) or no paid office hours at all.

As evidenced, the money in the state part-time office hours program is inadequate and needs to be increased. Please consider allocating an additional 25 million dollars for the state part-time office hours program.

Empower California’s adjuncts to create the student-teacher interactions critical to student success.

Sincerely,

Name (Please Print)________________________  Signature:_____________________________

Address________________________________________________________________________`

Date_____________________________________

 

Adjunct Action Day (aka NAWD) 4.0, Yes It’s Still Happening (At Least in San Diego)

Good Adjuncts:

Sorry I’ve been away.  The curse of trying to fight for social justice and equity in the age of Trump is that you don’t suffer for work.  That is why you have seen few new entries here of late.

Because of our involvement in a major rally in San Diego on Saturday, Feb. 24th, we are moving our Adjunct Action Day activities to Wednesday, March 14th.  In addition to this, there are a number of joint CTA and AFT community college adjunct-oriented letter writing campaigns, that are starting up, and you will have access to those letters here.

We’ve not gone away in apathy or depression, in fact the opposite–we’re just f**king busy.

I know, and so are you, and you’re getting screwed on pay.  I guess we’ve got to do something about that.

Geoff Johnson

Attempting to be a “good” Adjunct.