Volume 44, Number 4 - June/July 2009
CCA was there every step of the way
By Ron Norton Reel
I think all would agree the academic year 2008-2009 was a year of change for our colleges, our chapters, and our students.
During that time, CCA faced challenges involving community college accreditation, Student Learning Outcomes, the state budget, and continuing unity discussions with the CFT/Community College Council. And of course, there were the many challenges we all faced day to day on our campuses.
I saw many of these local challenges first-hand through visits I made to our chapters. I want to thank the following colleges I visited this year: Lassen, Napa Valley, Shasta, Gavilan, Hartnell, Merced, Lake Tahoe, San Joaquin Delta, Solano, Kern, West Hills, Palo Verde, Victor Valley, Citrus, Chaffey, Mt. San Antonio, Rio Hondo, Long Beach (Full and Part-time), North Orange (Fullerton and Cypress), Rancho Santiago, South Orange (Irvine and Saddleback), Coast, College of the Desert (Full and Part-time), Imperial Valley, and Mira Costa. I listened to your issues and shared the concerns of local, state, and the nation with your Executive Boards, Representative Councils, and college wide activities. Your concerns over workload, accreditation, class size, medical benefits, office hours, and salary are legitimate and CCA is dedicated to representing you to the fullest extent possible under law.
Voters sent a message
The year ended up with the voters sending a message to our legislators that they are tired of them not performing their duties. The community colleges will be the section of higher education that will take the brunt of the forthcoming budget cuts. UC and CSU simply cut the number of students they allow into their colleges, raise their tuition to meet the financial needs, and continue. Last year the community colleges educated an additional 150,000 students that we did not get reimbursed for because they were over the amount of students our system paid us to teach. We will be forced to close our doors to these students.
Yet, even worse for us is what is now being considered for next year. By turning away 150,000 students, we would cancel over 5,000 sections of classes, and it is estimated that we will also, because of budget cuts, cancel many more sections. The latest number of part-time faculty members we might lose this next year is up to 10,000. Some administrators are suggesting that in addition to the part-time faculty members we will lose, there will be full-time faculty also. Rest assured we will be there to fight for ALL faculty each step of the way.
"Class size is a working condition and each of our chapters needs to demand to bargain this time."
Demand to bargain
Because of the state deficit, some community college districts are unilaterally changing the class-size conditions. The stated justification is to accommodate more students. However, class size is a working condition and each of our chapters needs to demand to bargain this issue. The fact stands that if thousands of students and faculty are lost, the class size should not change. Also, each class has a cutoff number of eight to 14 where it breaks even and does not cost the district. CCA has the template you can share with your district.
Accreditation and Student Learning Outcomes were in and of themselves a breaking story this past year. Please examine the stories on accreditation in this issue. CCA believes in accreditation and improvement for faculty and students. However, the overzealous and out-of-control approach the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) has taken the past 5 years must be changed so the role is one of improvement instead of punishment. The exact role of Student Learning Outcomes hasn't been determined, but they are not the only way to evaluate the effectiveness of program assessment.
Medical benefit contributions also became a highly debated issue this past year. In an attempt to provide less to faculty and find some savings, districts tried to convince faculty these benefits were too costly to continue providing. Most districts lost this argument when it was investigated by both sides.
Office hours for all
The continued issue of office hours for all faculty has begun to take notice by students who realize they are not being given equal education when they sign up for a class with a part-time professor who does not provide office hours because the college does not pay for this part of the educational process. Students are contemplating a class action lawsuit.
Salary is always a concern for those in the teaching profession. We realized when entering the teaching profession, none would gain great wealth, but a reasonable wage should be provided. Teachers have always been more than willing to take the higher road regarding salary advancement in years when the state is in financial trouble. Willing to not take a raise is different that allowing salary reductions. We must insist in maintaining our current level of compensation. If cuts are needed, work with administration to make sure cuts do not cut salaries.
Finally, I want to thank the delegates at our Spring Conference who re-elected me as the CCA president for an additional two years. I consider it a privilege to represent each of you and to represent the interests of faculty at the local, state, and national level.