September 2019 Advocate: District rejects pay parity for counselors and librarians


District rejects pay parity for counselors and librarians

by SMCCD Counseling Faculty

Over the summer, we presented a proposal to the district on pay parity for counselors and librarians, which the district was not willing to go forward with. All of our part-timer hours and all full-timer overload hours (which for both full-timers and part-timers means much of summer and winter, as we still provide services and need coverage during all breaks) are paid at lower rates than other instructional faculty. Ultimately, what we are hoping to achieve is for our salary schedules to be changed to have just 2 rates: a student contact rate and a non-student contact rate. Failing that, we would like to be treated and compensated on par with all other faculty for the work that we do. We are hoping that, in a district with such a focus on equity for our students, we are able to extend that equity to faculty as well, and that our colleagues will support our efforts to have a single faculty pay rate in which all faculty, including counselors and librarians, are compensated equally and equitably.

As faculty, there is an expectation of expertise and command of our discipline, as well as pedagogical best practices that we engage in with our students. As counselors, we are held to those same expectations. Our counseling philosophies and pedagogical groundings are student- centered and imperative to the work that we do every day. We spend 25 hours a week meeting with students to work with them on any number of things – making plans for their career and educational goals, providing insight on the transfer process, supporting them as they are faced with incredibly challenging personal circumstances that impact their success, advocating for and connecting them to resources, navigating convoluted systems and processes, providing tools that can help them succeed, and the list goes on. A counseling appointment is not a single thing, and never as straightforward as “just an ed plan.”

In addition to this, our knowledge of constantly changing curriculum, articulation, transfer pathways, associate and certificate programs, placement mechanisms, and course content, among other things, require us to constantly reassess our knowledge and practice to best serve our students. This big picture knowledge also enables us to contribute effectively to many campus initiatives, like Guided Pathways, and engage in evidence-based practices that support student success, like learning communities. On top of this, many of us also teach. This is in addition to the hours we spend on research, follow up, and student records notes, as well as general faculty responsibilities including committee work and meetings. We also provide coverage year-round for students – the counseling offices are open even when school isn’t in session.

All faculty are assigned their classes each semester, and then they teach the content of their classes at the allotted time the class is scheduled. Any overload assignments are compensated in keeping with primary assignments – if a primary faculty assignment is to teach a course, and that primary assignment is compensated at a faculty salary rate, overload assignments of the same duty (to teach a course) are compensated as such. Counseling should be treated the same. By replacing the word “teach” with “counsel,” and “class” with “student appointment,” it becomes clear that the duties of counseling faculty require equivalent expectations of expertise and command of the discipline, just delivered in a different setting. However, any adjunct assignments, as well as additional counseling hours that are paid as overload, are currently paid at the lab rate, which is about 80% of the lecture rate that our fellow faculty members are compensated at. Librarians are compensated at special rate, which is 62% of the lecture rate, and are required to work even longer hours.

Even though counselors are considered faculty, the disparity in compensation between counselors and other faculty for performing the duties required of us, given our expertise and command of the discipline, is an issue that needs to be addressed in the contract. As it stands, the overload and adjunct compensation schedule of counselors and librarians codifies the view that we are ‘second-class’ faculty, which serves to negate the critical importance of the work we do and the expertise we have as faculty.