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In need of change

College needs funding, bill revision

By The Advocate editorial board
On March 15, 2014

  • Speech tutor De’Alaundria Gardner practices an improvisational speech on Thursday in AA-113 for the Intramural Speech Tournament that will take place on May 8 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Christian Urrutia / The Advocate

Community college districts throughout the state are challenged by a goal to achieve and maintain a status where 75 percent of classes are taught by full-time faculty.
Passed in 1988, Assembly Bill 1725 was a hiring reform act geared toward enhancing the quality of education and the availability of professors by mandating a 75/25 ratio of full-time to part-time faculty. However funding for the policy dried up after just two years.
From 1988 to 2004, the State Chancellor's Office documented the annual outcomes of all 72 community college districts in relationship to the 75 percent goal. What was found was the system average had decreased by nearly 1 percent. Though slight, that decrease is proof that the current methods to attain a 75/25 status are ineffective.
Last fall, the Contra Costa Community College District sat at 50.78 percent full-time faculty, down almost 4 percent from fall 2012. Despite slipping further away from the 75 percent goal, the district continues to meet its full-time faculty obligation number (FON), the minimum full-time faculty requirement. The annual FON is determined by the previous year's state-funded growth.
Though some districts struggled to do so, most met their obligation numbers with little difficulty, while simultaneously showing little to no progress and, in some cases, even regression from the 75 percent goal.
A significant increase to higher education funding is necessary to ensure the progress of all districts. However, fluctuating enrollment, shifts in course demand and an outpour of resources on the 2012 Student Success Initiatives have tied the hands of California community college administrators.
Leave it to legislators who don't see what happens on campuses and within the communities they serve to drown districts with lofty goals, not supply them with the necessary resources, then concoct new ones before the old ones come to fruition.
If an objective made more than 25 years ago remains largely unmet by community colleges statewide, it is safe to say it warrants reconsideration. That is not to say it was a misguided step, but more deliberation on how to properly fund AB1725 should have been considered ahead of time.
Mandating that 75 percent of classes be taught by full-time professors remains a good idea today, and is mutually beneficial to students and faculty.
However, state legislators need to revisit AB1725 and revise it to increase and tailor the full-time obligation numbers to better reflect each unique district, then supplement the state's higher education budget with adequate funds to ensure the goal's success - with funds that won't disappear in two years.  

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