By John Martin, CPFA Chair

I am sure I am not alone in feeling that the early events of the new year seem to have revealed that we are living in a different world! There was the mob violence at the Capitol in Washington, D.C., on January 6th, Biden being sworn into office on the 20th and multiple vaccines suddenly being available for nearly all adults to get. For better or for worse, we certainly appear to be living in a starkly altered reality from the one we were in just 12 months ago.  Yet, what hasn’t changed is the increasingly terrible burden being placed on part-time faculty in higher education across our state and throughout the country. The loss of classes — translating into unprecedented job losses and income for part-time faculty — has likely reached the tens of thousands across the United States, and this countrywide trend appears only to be accelerating at a new alarming rate.  (Be sure to read more about this in P.D. Lesko’s and  Keith Hoeller’s articles) 

The spiraling decline of both classes and part-time faculty jobs is no more evident than in the California Community College System. Here are some of the numbers I found using the California’s Chancellor’s Office Data Mart: taking the total figures of both part-time and full-time faculty side-by-side over the last 5 years, we find a perfect demonstration of the downward trend we are witnessing.

Year

Part-time Faculty

% Difference

Full-time Faculty

% Difference

2020

34,492

-16.4%

16,721

-8.0%

2019

41,237

-3.7%

18,145

-1.8%

2018

42,800

+1.25%

18,484

-0.3%

2017

42,270

+.5%

18,547

-0.2%

2016

42,043

 

18,588

 
Data collected from the California’s Chancellor’s Office Data Mart, on April 8, 2021

In the years between 2016 and 2019, the numbers were stable (although, there seems to have been a sharper downturn in 2019). But in 2020, there is a significant loss of part-time faculty, a drop of 6,745 part-time instructors across the state or 16.4% less in 2020 from 2019; whereas for FT instructors, the figure shows only 1,424 full-time faculty job loss or in other words, a loss of only 8% within their ranks. 

There are, of course, numerous ways to interpret the drop in numbers each year, such as natural attrition (retirement) of the baby boomer generation from the workforce. But from what I have witnessed, and what I know from anecdotal evidence, in the majority of cases, instructors, both part-time and full-time, are either “choosing,” or being forced, to quit rather than make the full transition to online teaching. And it is not just instructors resisting fully online learning environments, another important factor here is a significantly lower student enrollment, and this has also greatly contributed to the loss of part-time faculty. Cutting classes is a typical response to low enrollment for most districts, and that also explains why full-time employee numbers are also seriously down from just 5 years ago. 

Surely, you must be thinking, there must be some possible solutions to help counter the overall decline in quality employment and education, or at least to help mitigate the damage? As I see it, there are a few concrete actions we can take collectively to push back on this deepening affront to our education system. 

On the legislative side, there are two bills related to part-time faculty: AB 375 (Medina) and AB 1269 (Garcia); the first is sponsored by CFT and the second is from CTA/CCA. The first, AB 375, which would raise the cap on part-time teaching loads to 80-85% FTEF, is really a no-brainer for most of us part-timers. CPFA has written on this topic in the past, so you can read up on it in our Fall 2020 edition of the CPFA e-Journal, and while you’re at it, be sure to read CPFA’s Support letter for the bill, which explains our position and reasoning. The other bill, AB 1269, if implemented, would be just one step in a longer process to achieve pay parity for part-time instructors. CPFA is still working on an analysis of its full impact, however, AB 1269 is looking to be another good example of how we can make incremental steps towards equity (Be sure to read Carol Whaley’s article on this topic in this edition of the e-journal). 

FYI, CPFA did its best to find a legislator who could support our proposed language, i.e. “no overloads,” which we believe would be most effective in prohibiting full-time faculty from teaching beyond their normal contracted workload of 15 units (except in an emergency) that invariably takes classes and jobs away from part-timers, often at the last minute. Unfortunately, there were no takers this time around. We also tried to get someone to author a “just cause” bill to be added to the Ed Code. If passed, districts would be required to officially document cause of termination should a part-time instructor be dismissed, which would go a long way to curb the precariousness and exploitation of part-time employees. In either case, each and every part-time instructor would at least be shown the dignity of having some explanation for their loss of employment and vital income.

Finally, the CPFA Executive Council (EC) and its volunteers have been hard at work since last year with the development of five new committees tasked with advancing part-time faculty needs in these respective areas: the Ad Hoc Bylaws Committee, chaired by Bobbie-Lee Smart, the Legislative Committee, chaired by Carol Whaley, the Membership Committee chaired by Scott Douglas, the Conference Committee, chaired by Laurel Hartley, and finally, the Election Committee, chaired by Robert Yoshioka. These committees meet a couple of times per month and then report on their progress at our regular monthly EC meetings. I’m very proud of the dedication and contributions of the people who volunteer as much spare time as they can muster to fight for part-time faculty issues. 

Please welcome David Donica as our new Director of Administration and Laurel Hartley as our new Northern California Regional Representative. We still have vacant seats on the EC so check out our bylaws for them. So if you are interested in joining our team, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

Last of the news, CPFA will be hosting our very first virtual conference on Saturday, May 8th. Be sure to register here and vote on the proposed amendment to the CPFA constitution; and while you are registering for this (it’s 100% free) check out our full program. Not only do we have a great schedule lined up, but a special announcement will be made during the conference to deliver this year’s EC election results. Be sure to look out for an email from our election committee outlining the process for submitting your ballot. All seats are up for election and we are counting on your vote.


John Martin has been teaching U.S. and African American History for over 30 years. He has been the Chair of CPFA for 2 terms now, and is seeking a final term in this year’s election.

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One Reply to “Chair’s Report”

  1. Carol Jordan

    Thank you for the numbers John. Do you have any info on Oregon and/or Washington as well?

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