BY WENDY BRILL-WYNKOOP
Good afternoon – Chair and members of the Assembly Higher Education Committee.
I am Wendy Brill-Wynkoop, the Department Chair of Photography at College of the Canyons. I am the only full-time faculty member in my department as the majority of the courses at our college are taught by part-time faculty. This is true at most of the community college districts.
Before attaining my full-time position at College of the Canyons, in a single semester I taught one class at UC Irvine, one at Pepperdine College in Malibu, one at Chaffey College in Ontario. I spent more time on the freeway per week than I did in class with my students, but I was lucky – I was able to land a full-time teaching position. I am here to testify in support of AB 897 because most of our faculty are not so lucky.
What is the difference between part-time and full-time faculty? At the California Community Colleges, part-time faculty can teach up to 67% of what is considered a full-time load. At College of the Canyons, like most colleges, a full-time load is 15 teaching hours per week. For part-time faculty, this would be up to 10 hours per week per semester.
Many of the part-time faculty I hired at College of the Canyons have been with us for more than a decade – and many also teach at neighboring districts of Ventura Community College District and Los Angeles Community College District. We affectionately refer to them as freeway fliers. But the reality is they don’t have a choice. For a professional position requiring a master’s degree or higher this limit of 67% translates into approximately $12,000 per semester at College of the Canyons – hardly enough to cover rent. It is not just students who live in their cars and rely on public assistance. It is also our professors.
Some of my fellow faculty have concerns about this bill, and I would like to correct some misconceptions.
- By comparison, the UC and CSU systems do not have this cap in part-time faculty hours. This bill would align the community colleges with the other higher education institutions.
- This bill does not affect the granting of tenure. Tenure is a principle of academic freedom, and according to the American Association of University Professors, it should be afforded to all professors regardless of the number of hours they teach a week.
- It also doesn’t change the number of classes taught by full-time faculty at the community colleges. The 75/25% law, enacted in 1988 to increase the number of sections taught by full-time faculty to 75%, has created an artificial ceiling with the mandate of a district’s Fulltime Obligation Number or FON. The FON was meant to be the floor or bare minimum number of full-time faculty at each district. However, districts have no incentive to hire above this obligation number.
- This bill will have no increased costs to CalSTRS or healthcare for the districts.
AB 897 would allow each local district to collectively bargain for part-time faculty to teach up to 85% of a full-time faculty teaching load. The bill would allow part-time faculty to dedicate more time teaching at a single campus and less time commuting between campuses. Part-time faculty would have more time to devote to meeting with students and participating in the governance of the college rather than run out the door to drive to an adjacent district piecing together a living. In rural districts where it is difficult to hire enough faculty, AB 897 would allow colleges to offer more class sections to a single part-time faculty.
Although AB 897 does nothing to address the need for more full-time faculty, it does provide the opportunity for part-time faculty to have a greater impact on the life of our students and their success.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Testimony was given on April 2nd, 2019 by Wendy Brill-Wynkoop, Professor College of the Canyons.
About the Author: With over twenty years as a professor of photography and digital media at the College of the Canyons, Wendy Brill-Wynkoop has a breadth of classroom experience as well as leadership experience. She has served on the local association executive board, and academic senate as well as sat on numerous college-wide committees. Recently she stepped down as the local association president to pursue chairing the association’s Political Action Committee. She has enjoyed serving on the CCA and FACCC Legislative and Advocacy Committees for several years. She is a graduate of the CCA California Leaders Academy and the NEA Emerging Leaders Academy. A California native, Wendy obtained her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the University of Southern California, and she earned her Master of Fine Arts degree in Fine Arts at California State University Fullerton.