The recently deposed California State Assembly Bill 950—AB 950—points to the general unwillingness of educators and legislators to confront the basic inequity that is built into California community colleges.  AB 950 exemplifies a power dynamic that routinely fails our youth and oppresses some of our best and hardest working teachers so that the few and the entitled may continue to live well on the backs of Part Time Faculty.

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Robert Yoshioka and Ratsky

 

This one piece of innocuous seeming legislation would have conferred “most favored teacher” status on ALL full time faculty, thereby circumventing the long-standing custom of having any such benefits locally bargained in each of the state’s 72 community college districts. With this single legislative vehicle, CFT and their supporters sought to bring “overtime” teaching loads, and thus greatly increased wages to a small, aging, dwindling but disproportionately powerful elite within the ranks of the teaching profession.

Understand, that this was all taking place as part time faculty are increasingly coming under attack. No (or few) paid office hours, no paid prep time, limited health benefits and certainly no assurances for continuing employment (except for watered down “rehire” rights, and the district’s seeming disinclination to make health benefits available to part timers and members of their families kept most of us with our heads to the proverbial grindstone while full time controlled unions like CFT sought to move their agenda forward.

Part timers were not able to access system-wide information regarding the extent of current full time faculty overtime, except to be told that there were less than 150 of 14,000 full time faculty who taught in excess of 150% overtime. We repeatedly requested information on how many full time faculty already teach up to 150% overtime and were told that that information was just not available, although ironically, ALL districts maintain lists of part time faculty with their teaching loads clearly indicated, for fear of any one of us exceeding 67% of a “full time” teaching load.

It is our suspicion that large numbers of full time tenured faculty already teach overload, so that this legislation would have only codified an already existing “dirty little secret.”

Jack Longmate and Keith Hoeller have done members of the part time teaching community in California and throughout the nation a tremendous service in bringing to the attention of the general public and the traditionally hide-bound members of the tenured teaching fraternity this egregious breach of good faith and sound educational teaching practice that CFT (California Federation of Teachers) in California sought to perpetrate on a largely trusting part time teaching faculty in California’s 72 publicly mandated and funded Community Colleges.

AB 950, which both Longmate and Hoeller cite as a prime example of full time faculty greed (yes, let’s call it what it really is: GREED), disguised as a “benefit” that CFT, as the bill’s sponsor, wished to confer had it been voted in by our state legislature, would have provided “overtime” benefits for ALL full time tenure track faculty within the whole system…not just full time tenured members of CFT!

To be fair, CWA/UPTE (the Commnications Workers of America) and CCCI (the California Community College Independents) both took “oppose” positions to AB 950, and CCA (the Community College Association, CTA) adapted a “watch” position on this legislation. Only a few of us actively opposed CFT and their supporters, but thankfully, reason, the force of our arguments, plus the growing embarrassment for proposing such a misleading piece of legislation carried the day. However, as both Longmate and Hoeller suggested, this bill, in some form or other, will most likely be re-submitted again and again in upcoming legislative sessions, and unless we remain vigilant, will probably be put on the docket for approval. The prize of nearly unlimited sanctioned overtime for tenured full time faculty is worth pursuing at almost any cost according to full time pundits and full time faculty controlled unions.

All this activity on behalf of a group of privileged and self-serving teachers should act as a continuing wake up call to students and part time faculty as well. Students are not well served by faculty intent on chasing more money, while providing dubious learning experiences.

We view with alarm the growing presence of MOOC’s as well. One way for full time faculty to increase their income is to teach multiple section of the same class online. One prep, one set of notes, one set of audiovisual materials and no in-person contact seems to be an ideal formula for raking in the bucks while logging on and monitoring large batches of students at a distance.

Regularization is the best hope for bringing much needed reform to a broken system that has yet to realize that it is failing miserably in it’s goal of educating our youth and providing continuing re-training opportunities to the displaced and jobless.

RBYoshioka, robertby07@gmail.com.

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