May 2019 Advocate: Professional Development funding


Lucky 13: Superstition & reality in professional development funds

By Paul Rueckhaus, AFT 1493 President, Leigh Anne Shaw, District Academic Senate President & Jeramy Wallace, District Academic Senate President-Elect

Intent of Article 13 Funds

The intent of Professional Development in Article 13 of our contract is to provide dedicated funds for faculty to identify needs and desires to improve their teaching practice, refresh their education in their discipline or the art & practice of teaching, and pursue professional goals (e.g., leadership, publishing, etc.). Currently, professional development funds are comprised of a District matching fund that is equivalent to 1% of faculty salaries from full-time tenured faculty and 3rd and 4th year tenure-track faculty. However, all faculty are eligible to apply for and receive PD funds (whether they are adjunct, or early in their tenure track). These funds are distributed proportionally across the three campuses according the amount of full-time equivalent faculty on each campus.
In December 2018, a joint study session by the District Academic Senate and AFT reviewed all of the PD protocols from across the District to understand how PD committees were functioning and to look for improvements to the process.  Some of the key findings of that study session included the need for:

  • More standardization of the workflow from college to college (how a PD application moves from applicant to committee to approval)
  • Greater distinguishing of the guidelines for short-term projects, long-term projects and extended leave requests.
  • Greater clarity delineating which types of continuing education and trainings are appropriate for the Article 13 fund and which types should be paid for by other sources.

It was clear to the participants at the December 2018 study session that a prioritization of types of PD is needed, and it needs to be applied consistently across all three campuses.

What is and isn’t Professional Development?

The fund created by Article 13 should be used exclusively to fund projects that are faculty-driven. Being a professional means that we can exercise the independent judgment needed to determine what opportunities we need and desire to seize in order to enrich our teaching practice and pursue our professional goals. In an environment of State-mandated initiatives and ever-increasing systems for collecting and managing student and program data, it’s hard to parse out what is an activity that is professional development for the enrichment of teaching and learning and what are skills necessary to comply with regulations and implement initiatives.

Occasionally, we must receive training to stay current with new initiatives and systems implemented by the District or the State (think: guided pathways, acceleration/AB705, SSSP, etc.). So, we can think of professional development in five broad categories:
1.     Improving teaching (classroom strategy, pedagogy, etc.)
2.     Keeping current in one’s discipline/specialty (maintaining licenses, industry or professional workshops, etc.)
3.     Personal growth, retraining and rejuvenation (leadership development, original research, etc.)
4.    Maintaining compliance with District and State initiatives (AB 705, Guided pathways, etc.)
5.     Participating fully in the governance of campus life (committee work, SLO assessment, accreditation, etc.)

Items 1-3 are bolded as those are the types of activities that Article 13 dollars are meant to pay for. As a result of the December 2018 study session, we have compiled a list of initiatives and activities that would fall outside of the Article 13 funding mandate. In other words, these activities should be paid for by other funding sources. A short list includes:

Implementation of state mandates and campus initiatives Training on software and data management programs Participatory governance
Campus redesign
Guided pathways/ Metamajors
General Education Redesign
Learning Communities
Basic Skills and similar initiatives (e.g., acceleration)
Dual Enrollment initiatives
Adult Ed. Initiatives
Promise scholars
Canvas (See MOU for teaching in Distance Ed.)
Student Management System (e.g., Salesforce)
Any software program essential to the management of a classroom, department or program.
Any activities related to state or regional meetings of mandatory governance committees (e.g., Academic Senate, Curriculum Committee).

Any training having to do with program and institutional assessment, reporting and tracking; accreditation; or other administrative processes that faculty may carry out.

Volunteering vs. Voluntelling

Professional Development funds are our dollars. While they do not come from our paychecks, they are contributed by the District for projects, conferences and learning opportunities identified by faculty as valuable to our continuing education. A major concern of both AS and AFT is that with all of the state mandates, campus initiatives and new software programs, our PD dollars could easily be gobbled up just trying to keep faculty up to speed and in compliance. Put simply, Article 13 dollars are there for projects that faculty volunteer to do because they have deemed it enriching to their professional life, not projects they are implicitly or explicitly expected to do in order to meet new requirements or implement a new initiative.

Let’s take a quiz!
Are you volunteering or being voluntold?

Choose the best answer for how to apply Professional Development dollars:

A. You’re a full-time math instructor and your entire department has decided to send you and 3 other faculty to a workshop to bring your department up to speed with new state requirements to transform our pre-transfer Math & English sequences so students graduate faster and to think through strategies to implement the reform. Your Dean expects all attending faculty to apply for PD through Article 13.

B. You’re a part-time English instructor who has taught both transfer level and basic skills English. Your department has cancelled and replaced most of the transfer level and basic skills offerings with an enhanced, extended English class that counts toward transfer, while simultaneously providing remediation. Any faculty member who wants to teach this class must take a voluntary training in student-centered pedagogy. You will be attending the 5-session training with colleagues from your department on campus. The cost is $500 per faculty member that you apply for funding through the Article 13 committee.

C. You’re a part-time math faculty. Your colleagues have just returned from an awesome training all about math acceleration. You’ve been to two department meetings about the changes in the curriculum and you’re super excited to learn more about how to support students in an accelerated class. Your colleagues shared a flyer for a workshop in San Diego on Secrets to Success in Acceleration. You really want to go to the training, so you ask your Dean if she would sign off on your application to the PD committee to attend.

If you answered A.), sorry no points for you. If we were to expend all of our Article 13 dollars toward complying with AB 705 or other such mandates, we might not have anything left for the occasional art history or radiology technology conference–much less a sabbatical.

If you answered B.), still no points for you. Despite how the workshop series is pitched, the workshops are not voluntary. If the majority of traditional sections are being cut, the adjunct must take the training if she wants to teach any sections of English that will actually be offered. Whether she is excited to take the training or not is irrelevant. The campus or Division must reciprocate the expectation that faculty train to teach the class with a budget for training them. That’s not what our PD funds are for.

If you answered C.), ding ding ding! This is precisely what short-term PD funds are intended for. That the training is connected to a State initiative is neither here nor there. The important piece of information is that the faculty member deemed, in her professional judgment, that the training would enhance her teaching practice.

Role of the Committee

All three campuses have professional development committees comprised of Senate appointees, AFT appointees, and administrators. The committee is in place to distribute funds to qualified applicants. The committee is the arbiter of professional development funding requests–meaning that as a collective, they exercise the final judgment to approve, deny or request revisions to an application. A majority vote of 4 out of the 6 members is required to approve or deny any application. Article 13 currently stipulates that the college President exercises the final judgment before the funding is approved (13.11.4), though this was intended to be more of a quality assurance check (assuring that the request is consistent with the college mission) rather than a veto.

In December, the joint study session revealed that inconsistent processes of applying for and approving professional development funding exist across campuses. The participants saw that only CSM’s committee followed the contract in their workflow. (See CSM Professional Development Committee’s Approval Flow Chart below.)

Skyline and Cañada’s processes allowed excess levels of administration in the process. In the PD approval process, each party gets one shot at reviewing the request:

  • The applicant applies for funds
  • The Dean signs off advancing the application to the committee
  • The Committee reviews and deliberates
  • The President reviews the decision

There should be no other players and no party should get multiple swipes at the PD application.
It is recommended that all three campus PD committees follow the contract in the same manner. PD committees are charged with reviewing and aligning their processes so that faculty across the district have equal access to professional development.

Funding distribution

Currently the 1% of PD funds is split between short-term projects (e.g., conferences, workshops, etc.), long-term projects (e.g., semester-length classes that may require release time, but not leave of absence), and extended leave projects (i.e., sabbaticals). Currently, the bargaining team is exploring ways to not only increase PD funds, but reserve funding for specific types of PD so that requests for sabbaticals are not competing with those for conferences and vice versa. (See the contract negotiation proposals).


The December 2018 joint AS/AFT meeting is a testament to the complexity and importance of this issue, and all district faculty should remember that their representatives in the Senate and in the union are in agreement about the policies and processes outlined above. We will continue to work together to streamline the application and approval procedures to create consistency and fairness across the district. In the meantime, should you experience any issues while applying for professional development, do not hesitate to speak to your campus union representative or a member of your local Academic Senate.

Finally, we appreciate the feedback and discussion from all who attended the joint meeting.