General Membership/Executive Committee Meeting
January 21, 2009, Cañada College
Present: Eric Brenner, Ron Brown, Chip Chandler, Victoria Clinton, Alma Cervantes, Katharine Harer, Teeka James, Dan Kaplan, Yaping Li, Monica Malamud, Karen Olesen, Sandi Raeber, Anne Stafford, Elizabeth Terzakis, Lezlee Ware
Guests: David Clay, Patty Dilko, Anu Pattanayak, Leslie Sachs
Meeting began at 2:25
Facilitator: Sandi Raeber
Welcome and Introductions
Minutes of the December 10, 2008 EC meeting: approved unanimously with corrections.
* Minutes of the November 12, 2008: approved unanimously
Statements from AFT members on Non-Agenda Items:
A) Dan reminded everyone about the AFT National Higher Education Issues Conference in Miami, March 6 – 8, 2009.
B) Anyone who would like hard copy of Reversing Course: The Troubled State of Academic Staffing and a Path Forward can get one from Dan.
C) Yaping announced that on the last day of final exams (December 2009), she received a rather frantic phone call from an art instructor at CSM whose course was cancelled due to low enrollment, which the instructor suspected was due to an error in the class schedule. The instructor explained that he had found it difficult to schedule a meeting with his Dean to discuss the situation.
Dan did talk with the instructor later and advised him about steps he could take; he did not hear from the instructor again.
Yaping will try to follow up with the instructor.
D) Some classrooms at CSM are now larger as a result of building renovations. Five faculty have contacted Dan about their class sizes having been increased by their Deans. Such unilateral increases constitute unfair labor practice; class size increases must instead be negotiated. Let Dan know if you hear of any other such cases.
On January 26 – 28 AFT will go to arbitration on an existing grievance regarding denial of tenure to a probationary faculty member.
District Shared Governance Council Report
A) Barbara Christensen and others are reviewing the District’s current Rules & Regulations and are considering adding language restricting the circumstances under which faculty and staff can and cannot identify their association with the District. Exact language about the new rules – including any consequences for those who violate them – has not been released yet. It is difficult to know how to respond without seeing the actual language, but the sentiment among the EC is that this is a free speech issue and that faculty and staff have the right to make clear their association with the District in their social and political lives. Teeka will send us the language when it is available.
Dan told of a past incident in which a faculty member wrote letters to the editor of a local newspaper, in which he identified his affiliation with the District, and was threatened with reprimand.
Patty Dilko reported that this review is in response to the accreditation process; the District needs to show good faith in considering revisions and updates to all of its Rules & Regulations. She also said that the Community College League is advising the District.
* On a related issue, Barbara Christensen reported that according to County Counsel, it is a violation of California Ed. Code to post political signs in, or around, faculty and staff offices. AFT’s attorney continues to disagree with this interpretation of the Ed. Code. We are currently waiting for some discussion and/or action between our attorney and the District’s
B) The three campus Senates are currently working on District Rules and Regulations, Article 6, looking at AAUP materials. Patty would like to form a task force with AFT representation.
Trust Committee release time issue
After the District rejected the EC’s request for reassigned time for faculty to work on the Trust Committee, Teeka and Anne met with CSM’s VPI, Susan Estes, at the end of November to discuss alternative strategies for ensuring that the faculty evaluation processes across the District are evaluated and revised. Some of Susan’s ideas included paying faculty a stipend to do some, or most, of the work during summer, or having an administrator/administrators do the bulk of the initial work. After some follow-up discussion, Teeka and Anne proposed at today’s meeting that rather than sending a small group of EC members to meet with Chancellor to reiterate our initial request, we propose a smaller Trust Committee, perhaps consisting of 4 AFT representatives and 1 Senate representative, all of whom would get reassigned time. The EC maintains its position that faculty need time, rather than stipends, to do this work properly. We also recognized that with a smaller committee, it will be especially important to consult with faculty in specialized areas such as Distance Education, the Library, counseling, etc.
Program Improvement Viability discussion
Four programs at CSM (German, Library Studies, Welding & Machine Tool Technology, & Media Group [Film Production, Graphics, Journalism, Multimedia]) are currently undergoing the PIV process, which has the potential for benefits as well as the potential for the termination of programs and faculty lay offs. At CSM, the Senate took the leadership role in the process. (For details of the issues involved and the status of the four programs, refer to the December 16, 2008 CSM Academic Senate minutes.) Dan feels that the process worked well.
There was some discussion of putting CSM’s student newspaper, the San Matean, on hiatus, but this action was not approved; all of the PIV committees’ recommendations were approved by the Senate.
At this point no programs have been terminated, but they could be in the future.
SLO’s: What should the Local (and CFT) do?
Elizabeth gave an update on what she sees as the primary concerns about SLO’s and about Cañada’s stance toward them. The general approach at Cañada seems to have been to do the minimum necessary to meet accreditation requirements. The responses to the demand for SLO development and assessment have ranged from enthusiasm to outright rebellion. The primary concerns have to do with the amount of time faculty – especially P/T faculty – are spending on SLO’s, issues of academic freedom, standardization of curriculum and assessment, and their potential use in the faculty evaluation process. Elizabeth is interested in starting an educational campaign and finding out what other colleges (and K-12) are doing to resist the pressure to develop and assess SLO’s.
Anne and Teeka stated that they, and many members of CSM’s English Department, see value in articulating SLO’s, and working to help students achieve them, but find that their assessment is burdensome and, without devoting far more time to the process, generally fruitless.
Yaping reminded us that SLO assessment results will be used in Program Review to justify position and equipment requests.
Dan pointed out that the State Academic Senate’s position on SLO’s has fluctuated some. Initially it expressed strong opposition, then took the position that colleges should try to meet at least the minimum requirements for accreditation, and now has returned to a position of greater opposition. He believes that after numerous communications back and forth between CFT and ACCJC about the legality of the SLO requirements placed on colleges (by ACCJC), CFT may soon decide it has no choice other than to file a lawsuit. WASC has essentially ignored new language in the reauthorized Higher Education Act stating that SLO’s cannot be used as a component in the evaluation of faculty.
EC approval of Harriet Tucker’s and Mark Mantelle’s 2009-2010 contracts
The EC voted unanimously to approve their contracts. Harriet works approximately 15 – 20 hours per week (mostly bookkeeping); Mark works approximately 15 – 20 hours per week (maintaining AFT 1493’s data base).
Date for February EC catch-up meeting?
We agreed that we do not need an additional meeting in February, but we did schedule a special closed session meeting for 1:45 on April 17, at CSM to discuss the faculty evaluation process, particularly in terms of how it relates to the grievance process.
New Federal legislation was passed several years ago, initially implemented in K-12, but now also in colleges, regulating how the money for faculty health benefits is invested. The District must decide on an investment strategy for the $30 million we have to invest, and choose from among five potential brokers competing for our business. The choice of both the strategy and the broker will be made by a group of individuals including Dan Kaplan, Harry Joel, David Fuene, Kathy Blackwood, and a paid consultant. The consultant believes that the economy has reached bottom and that the District should choose a fairly aggressive investment strategy. Dan feels he may be the only member of the group advocating a more conservative strategy. Though he wanted to know the EC’s feelings, there was not consensus, and there are unanswered questions about whether we simply need to maintain the current $30 million or whether that amount needs to grow.
Open discussion/meeting critique
Meeting adjourned: 4:50
Next facilitator: to be determined.