Palomar College child development teacher Barbara Hammons definitely found the idea of distance teaching a challenge. For years, she and her department chair had a running joke – if she ever wanted to get rid of her, no need to fire her, just give her an online class.
By Jessica Silver-Sharp, San Mateo Community College
Federation of Teachers
When I first wrote about undocumented students in October 2017, I
couldn’t have foreseen how things could change so much in less
than three years. Two out of three of our campus Dream Centers in
the San Mateo Community College District were established during
this time when young “Dreamers” were forming a national youth
movement and “coming out” across the country. Then, a majority of
the hundreds of undocumented students on campus enjoyed legal
protections under DACA.
By Mark James Miller, Part-Time Faculty Association of Allan
“I miss the face-to-face contact.”
“Something is missing.”
“I miss being with my students.”
As Hancock College’s part-time instructors adapt to the “new
normal” brought on by the coronavirus, one theme is constant:
With all classes now being taught remotely, they miss being in
the classroom with their students.
The ongoing COVID-19 experience for part-time instructors has demonstrated their great collective strength and resiliency, despite limited pay, benefits, job security, and often minimal support.
Several local union leaders — who are part-time faculty — report that beyond the initially hectic and at times frenzied process of transitioning to remote instruction and services, faculty have more or less still been able to teach a semblance of their face-to-face course.
Within the span of just two weeks in early March, California Community Colleges, along with the rest of American higher education, were forced into the perhaps the largest and most radical pedagogical shift in its history.
In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, part-time faculty — beyond
dealing with protecting the health and safety of themselves and
their families — are facing threats to their economic security,
including loss of income, access to health insurance, and their
capacity to pay for housing and utilities.
It is essential part-timer faculty are aware of recent actions
taken by the federal government and state of California to
provide relief for people facing these challenges.
Even before Gov. Gavin Newsom’s shelter-at-home order, Allan
Hancock College was gearing up to meet the challenges the
COVID-19 virus presents to an institution of higher learning.
For faculty and students, this new normal brings with it many
issues regarding how best to continue the mission of education —
providing the students with the highest quality of instruction —
while trying to remain free of the virus and maintain social
It may have taken over two years, but the Calbright online
community college has apparently lost any support it might have
enjoyed in the state Legislature when the CFT first warned about
the potential for failure. In December 2017, Jim Mahler,
president of the CFT Community College Council,
sent a seminal letter to Gov. Jerry Brown, Calbright’s main
promoter, pointing out key flaws in its proposed structure.
Community college faculty mobilized on February 13 to let the
state Legislature know that they want the enormous resources
wasted on the Calbright online community college project
redirected to the needs of the existing, underfunded campuses
around the state. These campuses serve tens of thousands of
students, while this one project has absorbed $120 million
for fewer than 500 students.
Members, officers, and activists from higher education unions
throughout California came together for a full day during Campus
Equity Week to chart a strategy for defending public higher
education. They denounced especially the way education
institutions, under corporate pressure, increasingly rely on
contingent instructors while treating them as outsiders.
One of the great powers of a union is its ability to uplift the
living conditions and status of its members, not just at the
bargaining table, but within the structure of the union itself —
when the seemingly most marginalized members assume leadership
In local unions representing all faculty, there has been a recent
trend of the membership electing a part-time faculty member to
lead the union, with significant support from the full-timers.
There is perhaps no better example of this, though he might be
reluctant himself to say so, than Keith Ford.
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.
Most teachers speak with authority about the subjects they teach
but Glendale Community College’s newest political science
instructor speaks with the voice of personal experience as well.
Adam Schiff knows the workings of California state government
from the inside, as well he should — he’s Glendale’s state
My dissertation research focused on the perceptions of the impact
of adjuncts on community college campuses in Southern California.
I specifically wanted to understand the reality of involuntary
adjuncts — those whose who want full-time tenure track jobs,
couldn’t get a position, so worked as “full-time” adjuncts (those
whose adjunct work is the majority or entirety of their income).
Los Angeles adjunct becomes chair of California
Rusty Hicks, known to the larger California public as the newly
elected leader of the California Democratic Party, is known to
the students of the Los Angeles Community College District and
the Los Angeles College Faculty Guild, Local 1521, by another
title since 2016 — Adjunct Instructor of Labor Studies.
It is not a level playing field in the world of higher
education. The longstanding and systematic underfunding of
higher ed has to a crisis in which 68 percent of California
community college faculty now work as part-time, or temporary
When Aya de León started as a lecturer in African American
Studies at UC Berkeley and director of its Poetry for the People
program, she was excited to join AFT Local
1474. She’s been working since she was a teenager, de
León says, but this is the first job where she has a union to
When she was younger, the idea of being in a local seemed very
adult to her, and now being a member of one makes her feel she
has arrived, she says. That’s just one reason she’s excited to be
a union member.