Nov. 2018 Advocate: Nov. 6 Elections


Don’t forget to vote in Nov. 6 general elections;
AFT co-endorses Holober & Mohr for Trustee

AFT 1493’s Executive Committee voted to co-endorse incumbent Trustees Richard Holober and Tom Mohr, who are both running for the District 4 seat for the Board of Trustees. Below are each Trustee’s candidate statement. Don’t forget to vote in the November 6 general elections. Your union’s election recommendations can be found at:

Richard Holober

It’s an honor to serve as your elected Community College Trustee. I have an unequalled 25-year record as an elected education leader, including serving as a public school Trustee before my election to the College Board in 1997.

Our College District provides outstanding education and career training to tens of thousands of students. All of the Trustees are in sync on most issues that come before us. But in a campaign, I must point out what distinguishes me.

I am dedicated to student success. I’ve also devoted my life to social and economic justice. I served for over two decades as a union organizer. Since 2001 I’ve run a non-profit consumer organization that protects Californians, including your students and their families, from corporate abuses.

I represented the College Board in crafting our District’s Strategic Plan. As a high performing institution, we must examine how our colleges are performing, and set ambitious, measurable goals for improved student outcomes and enhanced services to students, many of whom face barriers of poverty, immigration status, racial and cultural discrimination, and learning challenges. As a result of the Plan that I helped craft, the numbers of students completing degrees, transferring to UC, and enrolling full-time are up dramatically.

My job as an effective Trustee is to work closely with administration while maintaining the independence required to perform my oversight role. My responsibility is to examine and improve our academic performance, and our administration functions as well.

Respecting our dedicated faculty and staff is key to student success. For years, I have expressed to our administration my dismay with the deterioration of our human resources operations. Local 1493’s representatives spoke at a recent College Board meeting of a climate of fear due to a large number of investigations of ill-defined allegations against faculty and staff. This is unacceptable. I will continue working to improve our personnel functions and restore an atmosphere of trust.

Faculty has raised concerns about workload. I want to make sure that the Board is directly engaged in finding a collaborative resolution to workload inequities that honors our hard-working faculty.
I oppose contracting out work performed by our employees, except in unique circumstances. I stopped administration plans to contract out child care centers and bookstores.

Our administration’s emphasis on “entrepreneurial” activities brings in needed income. However, some proposals undermine our mission as a public education institution.

Non-credit community education has its proper role, but must be closely scrutinized. I’ve questioned certain costly non-credit courses, including ESL and Medical Assisting, taught by non-certificated contractors, that compete with affordable, for-credit courses taught by certificated employees. These for-profit courses don’t qualify towards a degree or transfer to a four-year college. My critique has led college administrators to more closely review proposed non-credit courses that could be taught for credit by certificated faculty. More oversight is needed, including a formal Academic Senate role in vetting these proposals.

I don’t take one position in my labor council interview and take the opposite position when formulating bargaining proposals with administration. I’ve always supported binding grievance arbitration for non-probationary employees. Binding arbitration makes managers manage better and ensures fair treatment of employees.

Nine of the “Bay 10” community college districts have binding arbitration. I’ve called for an independent performance audit conducted by the Board, using a neutral expert, to report on the pros and cons of binding arbitration at these nine college districts. This would help Trustees make informed judgments, instead of deferring to our administration’s view that binding arbitration is an abomination.

When our auditors informed us that we are not complying with a law that requires we spend no less than 50% of our general fund budget on classroom instruction, I called for compliance. Administration opposed me, stating publicly that we need not be concerned with complying with this law. I disagree.

We can comply without impacting our student support services. We stockpile $27 million in reserves. We can maintain a healthy rainy day reserve and honor the 50% law, by using a small amount of reserves to hire more full-time faculty from the ranks of our part-timers. I want to reduce the district’s reliance on underpaid part-time faculty. I’ll keep pushing to enrich our academic success by complying with the 50% law.

My re-election will keep a seasoned leader on the job, putting students first and holding our administration accountable. I respectfully request your vote.


Tom Mohr

With the exception of being a father and a husband, being an educator has been the most important endeavor I have undertaken in my life. I began my professional career as a high school chemistry teacher more than five decades ago.  Since my first day in the classroom, I have focused my efforts and energies on quality teaching and learning and finding creative and productive ways to help students be successful and realize their full potential.

I have been blessed with opportunities to serve our community as a principal of three high schools, superintendent of the San Mateo Union High School District and as president of Cañada College.  My service on the SMCCCD Board of Trustees for the last five years has allowed me to draw upon these experiences in education and a leader in our county to help strengthen communities, families and the fulfillment of student goals.

• During my tenure as a Trustee, I’ve led the efforts to create the District’s first strategic plan focused on student success, equity, and social justice.  This plan has led to focused investment in the academic readiness of students, on engaging community and local employers to meet industry needs and preparing students for not just jobs, but careers and livelihoods. We are now much more results oriented and success and completion rates are increasing rapidly.

• I led a coalition of District and community leaders to fund, support and grow Project Change, a program that provides incarcerated youth with a positive, life-changing re-entry path that takes them through colleges’ doors.

• My constant focus is on quality teaching and learning, measured success and completion and the support of the whole learner, one factor driving innovative initiatives in the District, including the Promise Program which removes financial barriers for students and provides wrap-around support services, SparkPoint Centers to help students with financial, food, housing and transportation insecurities, and expansion of online learning to allow students to access education that is convenient and fits their needs.

• I continue to be a strong advocate for critical conversations within the District and the Board about race, class and privilege to ensure that the District and the Board are conscious of the realities confronting the students we serve and the circumstances of their lives affecting every aspect of the educational process.

I am a vigorous proponent of every form of faculty support. I view faculty and great teaching as the most transformative element of the educational process. We need to invest more extensively in faculty development programs that assist faculty in personalizing teaching that engages students with personal meaning of culture, history and heritage. In every subject we can exercise the power of critical pedagogy that connects quite naturally with the immense talent students bring to the classroom. With district support and investment in “faculty learning communities” where faculty study and assist one another with effective teaching modalities, the power of great teaching will reach new levels of effectiveness.

I plan to continue to spend a great deal of time being present to faculty in their whole range of special efforts to take learning beyond the classroom, from Honors, to Equity lectures and special performances to guest appearances in classrooms. One of the ways a trustee demonstrates respect and value of the tremendous amount of extra work done by faculty is to try to be present to as many of these activities as possible.

I support remuneration for faculty for additional work being done so extensively now beyond the classroom, the hiring of more fulltime faculty wherever feasible, primacy in hiring full time positions from the adjunct roster and the strengthening of adjunct support in every category of assistance available. We must continue to strive to be the best in the State of California regarding salary, benefits and support for all faculty and staff.

I am grateful for the endorsement I received from AFT.  As an educator, being recognized by educators is high praise, and I cherish the support I have received from the faculty across the District.  I firmly believe that together, we can continue to make abundant progress in advancing the needs of our students by supporting those who light the flame of knowledge in our classrooms – great faculty, great teaching, great support.