Budgetarily, it’s been a tough year for winning greater gains for part-timers in Sacramento, but with regard to legislation which CFT succeeded in getting to the governor’s desk, and for legislation already in the wings for next year, part-timers are on the edge of good things.
In terms of the budget, while the community colleges received a 3.26 percent cost-of-living adjustment, there was no movement on categorical funding for adjunct pay equity, more full-time positions, or paid part-time office hours. “If there is a legislative plus here,” according to Jim Mahler, CFT Community College Council president, “it’s that we were able to freeze implementation of the Student-Centered Funding Formula so that the Student Success component of the funding formula is permanently frozen at 10 percent, instead of it potentially rising to 20 percent within three years, as was originally planned.”
In spite of lack of movement on the budget, and the ongoing issues of Chancellor Eloy Oakely’s ill-conceived Student-Centered Funding Formula, CFT has made great progress on two bills of critical importance to part-timers: AB 463 (Cervantes, D-Riverside), which proposes changes to make it easier for adjunct instructors to qualify for Student Loan Forgiveness, and AB 500 (Gonzalez, D-San Diego), which would mandate that all female public education employees (including adjuncts) be granted at least six weeks of paid maternity leave.
On October 13, the last day for the governor to sign bills into law, he vetoed AB 500.
The governor signed AB 463 into law on October 4. Thus far the Student Loan Forgiveness Program has been a disaster. Just 1 percent of those who applied for the program have received any relief. For adjunct instructors, getting student loan forgiveness has been particularly difficult because according to the program, public educators must work in excess of 30 official hours to qualify. While full-time instructors generally teach 15 hours in the classroom, their outside of the classroom work is officially acknowledged in their contracts which puts them past the 30 hour per week threshold.
The same is not true for adjuncts — they are only recognized for their hours in the classroom. In fact, an adjunct presently could teach at almost a 200 percent full-time load and still not qualify.
AB 463 remedies this by mandating that for the purposes of qualifying for the Student Loan Forgiveness Program, a 3.35 multiplier for every classroom hour per week be applied — a much better reflection of the actual hours an instructor works. Now that it is law, an adjunct teaching nine hours a week, just below the maximum allowed in any one district, could qualify.
This would be a particular boon to younger adjuncts who are often saddled with tens of thousands of dollars or more in student debt, yet are being paid at the bottom of the pay scale.
“AB 463 will give our part-time educators a fighting chance to be able to apply to the Federal Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program by eliminating regulatory silos that hinder their ability to benefit from the program,” said the bill’s sponsor, Assemblymember Sabrina Cervantes. “It is imperative that we assist educators who dedicate their lives to their students.”