Teaching background brings understanding, nuanced solutions
Community College Council President Jim Mahler says having Assemblyman Jose Medina as the new chair of the Committee on Higher Education is a gold mine.
Why? Because Medina, before going into politics, was a high school teacher in the Riverside Unified School District and a part-time teacher at three different community colleges, active in his union. He knows first-hand the insecurity part-timers have to deal with — cobbling together a schedule, finding enough work to support themselves, and worrying about their classes being cancelled.
That’s why Medina proposed working with the CFT on AB1010, a bill to take seniority into account with rehiring. At the March 20 Community College Council meeting at CFT Convention, he spent quality time with members, telling them about his background and inviting questions.
Medina’s parents came to the United States from Panama. His father got his degree from San Jose State in civil engineering, returned to Panama, and then moved back to California so his children would have more opportunities. They settled in Ojai because of the good schools. His parents believed education was the key to upward mobility, Medina said, and they expected him and his three siblings to go to college.
This emphasis on education meant when he was teaching history and Spanish and Ethnic Studies in Riverside, he also encouraged his students to go on to higher education — and wanted the district to do the same.
To have an even greater impact, Medina pursued public office. He was elected as a board member on the Jurupa Unified School District Board of Education and then as a trustee on the Riverside Community College District Board, service he calls invaluable training for the state Legislature.
After his speech at the meeting, Medina stayed to listen to questions and comments. John Govsky, co-chair of the CFT Part-Time Committee, thanked him for fighting for equity for part-timers. Susan Stuart, a theater arts instructor at Cabrillo College, voiced concerns about repeatability rules limiting student access and causing enrollment to decline. Edward Raskin with Los Angeles College Faculty talked about the need to support veterans seeking higher education. Phil Crawford from the San José/Evergreen Federation asked Medina to restore funding for disadvantaged students.
Former CFT President Marty Hittelman asked about the gutting of the state’s master plan, which promises affordable education for all — Medina said he’d just had dinner with the governor and all he talked about was the master plan.
Hittelman also asked about the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, which has been trying to revoke City College of San Francisco’s accreditation.
“California accreditation now gives new meaning to arbitrary and capricious,” Hittelman said. “The Beno Express [Barbara Beno is the president of the commission] has steamrolled through San Francisco and is headed for L.A. I don’t believe in tyrannical bullies having a place in our system — what kind of help can we expect?”
Medina said he has been looking carefully at the commission.
“Accreditation should be a process for betterment — it’s not intended to be punitive,” he said. “You can expect I will bring the classroom perspective into the conversation.”
— By Emily Wilson, CFT Reporter
Union’s community college bills moving
The CFT-sponsored bills listed below cleared the first round of legislative committee hearings and moved to the Appropriations Committee. If they pass Appropriations, the bills will move to a floor vote.
Job security model for part-time faculty
AB1010 (Medina, D-Riverside) seeks statewide job security for part-time faculty. CTA is a co-sponsor.
AB1066 (Gonzalez, D-San Diego) puts more stringent requirements on districts, closing the existing loopholes in the Education Code that allow districts to hire “temp” workers year after year.
AB1385 and AB1397 (Ting, D-San Francisco) seek to rein in the rogue actions of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges and provide more transparency and accountability in the accreditation process.
Strengthen 75:25 full-time/part-time ratio
SB373 (Pan, D-Sacramento) requires district to hire only full-time faculty if they want to expand their course offerings above their current size.