Faculty organize to keep the class size minimum at 10, oppose Moreno’s call for raising minimum back to 20
By Rika Yonemura-Fabian, AFT Skyline chapter chair & organizer
This February, the District Participatory Governance Committee (DPGC) unanimously voted to recommend that Board Policy 6.04 be permanently revised to set 10 as the minimum for a class to be held rather than canceled. However, Interim Chancellor Melissa Moreno stated her disagreement with this policy recommendation from constituents. Instead, she brought her recommendation that the Board keep the current BP 6.04 of 20, which means that sections with fewer than 20 students can be potentially canceled.
AFT organizes faculty to speak out
Upon hearing this news, AFT sent out a call for action to our members on Monday, May 22, and invited faculty to share their concerns about the minimum of 20, and speak at the Board meeting on May 24. We collected over 20 written comments, and 18 people lined up to speak at the Board meeting. We sent this letter to the Board and Interim Chancellor to share all of the faculty comments.
Filipinx faculty and students stand up to protect smaller classes
One of many faculty who stood up was Liza Erpelo, Skyline English faculty member who works with the Kababayan program and teaches the Filipino Cultural Night class (ENG103 and 104). Filipino Cultural Night is a vitally important class to the Kababayan learning community and Filipinx students at Skyline, but it had about 10 students enrolled this semester. When Liza heard about this potential policy change through the AFT email, she immediately assembled a meeting with students enrolled in this class, and the group disseminated a survey among wider student groups. 86 students responded! They were not happy about this recommendation of 20 minimum. They wanted to save their class! They promptly started drafting a letter that asked the Board to keep the minimum of 10 and they also turned it into a petition. The petition accompanied by the letter started going around the morning of the day of the Board meeting, and by 7pm, they had collected 120 signatures of students and faculty to be sent to the Board.
You can read the full letter here. This is a remarkable example of organizing coming from our Filipinx student community where they mobilized their resources and network to advocate for a policy that would protect their educational spaces, their curriculum, and their collective right to learn about their culture and ethnic history. Hats off to you all, from AFT!
Liza and four of her students showed up in person at the Board meeting, and spoke eloquently and powerfully for keeping the minimum at 10, and described the impact that this Board Policy would have on Learning Community classes. They were among 8 other speakers who were allowed to speak. Because the Board set a time limit on public comments to 20 minutes, many of the faculty were not even called on to make their statements. Among other speakers were Malathi Iyengar (Ethnic Studies, CSM), Bob Lee (Sociology, Cañada), Todd Windisch (ESOL, CSM), David Eck (Philosophy, Cañada), Kathleen McClung (English, Skyline), Lee Miller (Political Science, CSM), Arthur Veloso (the incoming Student Trustee, Skyline student) and Lori Slicton (Anthropology, Skyline.) The outgoing Student Trustee, Lesly Ta and Kate Browne, the District Senate President, were also strong voices advocating for keeping the minimum of 10. All these speakers put forward extremely effective points that made the Trustees ask good questions during the discussion part of the agenda item. The speakers educated the Board members about the issues they may not have been aware of, from the ground up, regarding the consequences of reverting back to a minimum of 20 to keep a class.
More faculty needed to advocate to keep class size minimum at 10
The Board is scheduled to vote on the minimum class size Board Policy on June 28. We need further advocacy on this issue at the June meeting. Look out for AFT communications through the month of June so we can successfully keep the minimum of 10 for our students and our programs!