Volume 45 Number 3
By Ron Norton Reel CCA President
Improving working conditions improves learning conditions
I want to start this column by saying how much I love CCA and the instructors who chose this profession because they love students.
I want to stand up for our members who give each and every day for our students. Some of these students are prepared, some are not. Some arrive in our classes interested, some take some time to develop an interest in the subject matter.
Some want to join our profession; and some find their way into CCA, a union that dedicates itself to making our working conditions the best possible learning conditions for our students. None of us could be CCA members without dedicated teachers along the way that made a difference in our life. I can name a few myself.
Remembering teachers past
I salute my middle school teacher Mr. Townsend from Wasco, whose union negotiated additional compensation so that he could tutor me three days a week, when I came down with rheumatic fever. Mr. Townsend became my hero, and I decided that if he could take the time to come and teach a poor boy like me, then I wanted to be a teacher.
I’m sure I had the opportunity to attend college because my 10th grade English teacher, Miss Delguchi from Shafter fought for me to be included in a special program to assist students in increasing their reading speed. I went from reading 100 words per minute to 1,600 words per minute with 90 percent comprehension. This allowed me to read an entire textbook the night before a test and carry 22-25 units per semester while working 40 hours a week.
I cannot overlook my community college professor Ginger Vogler from San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton who recruited me for her speech team. Her union had negotiated reassigned time so she could coach students like me.
She told me if I worked hard enough, four-year colleges would offer me a scholarship to give speeches. With her help, I placed seventh in the United States with a speech titled, “Do You Hear The Children Weeping?” I was the first man in a college competition to talk about child abuse.
Dr. Hal Bochin of California State University at Fresno provided me with a full scholarship. He helped me construct a speech about accepting people for what they are, instead of trying to change them to fit what we want them to become. Under his tutelage, I became the U.S. Intercollegiate four-year college and university champion in persuasive speaking.
Why do I mention these educators? I do so because their unions fought for the working conditions that provided their students with the learning conditions they needed to thrive.Let’s strengthen our chapters
We must continue to work within our local chapters to provide the services they need to carry out the work of the union.
I want to take just a minute to mention a few people who have worked hard to improve the working conditions of their members.
Ed Gomez of San Bernardino Community College Faculty Association has been able to encourage other faculty members willing to work hard and stand up for what is right. His leadership has completely revitalized his chapter.
Ken Nolte of the Shasta College Faculty Association has brought clarity and solidarity to his faculty and is responsible for increasing membership in his local chapter.
Fola Odebumi of United Faculty North Orange County Community College District has taken on a daily fight with the district over working conditions and the infamous Student Learning Outcomes.
Scott Lucas of Lake Tahoe Community College Faculty Association is responsible for creating a more positive and effective association. His college has completely turned around under his presidency.Advocating for part timers
Gaylla Finnell of the Imperial Valley College CCA has provided the energy, tenacity and leadership to bring part-time faculty into the association. Her college president has since agreed to allow for full faculty recognition.
Ken Wagman of Gavilan College Faculty Association worked to make sure that the association’s constitution, bylaws, and contract now includes full and part-time faculty.
These dedicated members are worthy of recognition from all of as examples of those we need to stand up and support.
One of my favorite poets is Yevgeny Alexandrovich Yevtushenko. Before he was sent to Siberia, he wrote of how wrong it was for the Russian government to take young boys out of school and make them soldiers of war. In a 1987 interview with Time magazine, he was asked why, after repeated warnings from the Russian government, he had continued to be a voice of opposition.
He answered, “My parents taught me to be as eloquent as possible and to always tell the truth about issues of importance.”
Although I cannot be as eloquent as Mr. Yevtushenko, I will always tell the truth about who we are, what we do, and how we will always strive to stand up for our members and our students.