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Guest Reviews | Dr. Steve Gibson: ‘We need to support part-time teachers at the CCP’ – Pasadena Now

Dr Steve Gibson [Photo by Melissa Michelson]
Teacher. Tracy Bodis at the April 12, 2022 Part-Time Faculty Equity Rally [Photo by Melissa Michelson]

Part-time (“auxiliary”) instructors at Pasadena City College deserve more respect and fairness.

Part-time faculty are temporary employees and currently make up an average of 49% of faculty at post-secondary institutions in the United States. Approximately 42,000 part-time faculty are employed at California community colleges each year. At Pasadena City College (PCC), the percentage is much higher: 678 part-time versus 394 full-time instructors, or 64% of the entire faculty.

If the college cancels their classes due to low enrollment, or if the dean of their department decides not to offer them classes for some unexplained reason, they will lose their jobs and have to become unemployed. Many are “highway geeks,” teaching at multiple colleges in a given day or week. Even though many have a doctorate like their full-time counterparts, they are paid about 30% less.

Due to the severe lack of support suffered by many part-time faculty at Pasadena City College, a recent faculty-student protest was held on campus, which I attended, in an effort to raise awareness of the unfair situation of part-time teachers.

Pasadena City College’s part-time professor, Professor Shannon Maraghy, has been attending and teaching at the college since 2008. She, like other part-time professors, called for fairness with full-time professors in terms of health insurance, job security, equal pay for equal work, and compensation for meeting attendance, committee service, course preparation, and grading, the latter of which there is currently a class action lawsuit in Long Beach. City College. In the CCP, they can’t even vote on critical issues, like last month’s vote of no confidence in Superintendent-President Erika Endrijonas.

Even the term “assistant” to describe a part-time teacher does him a disservice: “added to something else as an addition rather than an essential”, that is how he is treated and he feels.

Professor Tracy Bodis has taught part-time at PCC for 25 years and also spoke at the rally, highlighting the stigma of being part-time. “They don’t want us to make decisions, they don’t want us to have a say. We are not allowed in committees to choose new teachers [or deans] work within our own divisions.

Excessive reliance on part-timers

Community colleges in California are increasingly turning to part-time faculty in order to reduce faculty labor costs and improve “staff flexibility”. However, the college administration’s stance of increasing the number of dispensable adjunct professors with low pay and minimal job security creates a problem of disillusionment and dissatisfaction for these highly educated professionals. Although many part-time faculty members have taught at PCC for 10, 15, 20 or more years, their chances of becoming full-time are very low, as such positions rarely appear.

Disregard for job satisfaction is a loser for all

Findings from my 2019 thesis on part-time instructors at California community colleges show that part-time faculty feel undersupported, but still spend more than the time needed to support students. They seek to serve students to the best of their abilities, but find themselves in difficult circumstances.

I believe that high job satisfaction among adjunct professors is a very important factor that is ignored by the college administration. Dissatisfied employees are likely to have low morale and therefore their performance levels may not be as high as those with high job satisfaction. Some say they want to leave the profession but have to stay, and I was told that although working conditions are problematic, their interactions with students and colleagues bring satisfaction in their work.

Dealing with our contingent workforce in higher education is not just about working conditions. They are guardians of education for future generations of our community. Treating educators as second-class citizens denigrates the profession, and the exploitative practice of saving money on the backs of our educators, or anyone for that matter, is demoralizing and unacceptable.

Adjunct faculty members are an important component of teaching at community colleges. We will all benefit if their teaching expertise is put to good use by college administrators. We in the community need to support the part-time faculty at our local Pasadena Community College.

Dr. Steve Gibson is an alumnus of Pasadena City College and a 20-year resident and community advocate in the Pasadena/Altadena area. He earned his doctorate in education with his thesis on adjunct instructor job satisfaction in California community colleges. He is a candidate for the CPC District 3 Board of Directors.

References

Pasadena City College adjunct professors protest working conditions
https://www.pasadenanow.com/main/adjunct-professors-at-pasadena-city-college-protest-working-conditions

PCC Vote of No Confidence on College Leadership Finalized https://www.coloradoboulevard.net/pccs-vote-of-no-confidence-on-college-leadership-finalized/

Part-time teachers deserve the opportunity to work full-time: https://edsource.org/2022/part-time-professors-deserve-the-opportunity-for-full-time-work/665115

In lawsuit, part-time professors say Long Beach Community College district isn’t paying them for all of their hours https://laist.com/news/education/in-lawsuit-part-time- faculty-say-long-beach -the-community-college-district-does-not-pay-them-for-all-their-hours

Tackling the Silent Majority: The Issues of Part-Time Faculty through the Lens of Equity, Engagement, and Empowerment
https://www.asccc.org/content/addressing-silent-majority-part-time-faculty-issues-through-lens-equity-engagement-and#_ftn5

Further action: CFT, AFT 1521 urge members to push for health care
http://www.aft1521.org/A3_AdjunctHealthcare.pdf

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