The Academic Senate Discusses the 80% Proposal


In fall 2005, the 80% proposal first surfaced. Essentially, the proposal would amend the education code, which currently limits the teaching load of a part-time faculty member to 60% of a full-time faculty member's load in a single district. The proposal, which is now Senate Bill 847 (ducheny), raises that limitation to 80% per college. In fall 2005, the body directed the Academic Senate Executive Committee to research the issues behind the 80% proposal and bring information and resolutions back in spring 2006.

Three resolutions pertaining to the 80% proposalappear in the spring 2006 pre-session packet, and these resolutions were put forward by the Executive Committee after lengthy discussion. The discussion involved not only members of the Executive Committee but also liaisons from the evolving Student Senate, CCA/CTA, CCC/CFT, FACCC, and the AAUP. Members of the california Part-time faculty association, the principal group behind the proposal, were also invited to participate. In this brief article, I present the substance of the discussions to inform your understanding of the issue.

Many of the arguments presented by proponents of the change to the 60% law pertain to working conditions.

The current restriction, particularly in the case of courses of five units or more, precludes a part-time faculty member from teaching more than one class in a given district. This exacerbates the already deplorable working conditions for most part-time faculty by forcing them to drive significant distances to teach enough courses to make a living. Some have argued that the senate should not be involved in discussions of working conditions. However, given the fact that working conditions often affect teaching and learning conditions, it can be argued that the Senate must be involved.

In order to address the 80% proposal while leaving the issues of working conditions to our union colleagues, the senate has focused on pedagogical and governance issues. Those opposed to the proposal focus on the threat to academic freedom and the 75:25 ratio first proposed in AB1725 in 1989. opponents claim that the 80% proposal provides further inducement for cash-strapped colleges and districts to move away from a cadre of full-time faculty to reliance on part-time faculty. While part-time faculty stand as equal to fulltime faculty in the classroom, the responsibilities of a full-time faculty member extend far beyond time in the classroom to include curriculum and program development, campus committee and governance service, advisement, and community outreach. Furthermore, full-time tenured faculty are generally protected from possible reprisals when they speak out against policies or procedures that are supported by college and district administration. Vocational faculty emphasize that this is particularly true in occupational programs, which are the focus of other current legislation concerning faculty workload. Opponents emphasize that the 80% proposal undermines current efforts to move towards the 75:25 goal. Furthermore, the 80% proposal could have a significant negative effect on faculty diversity. Many fulltime hires come through the part-time ranks. for many, a part-time position is a foot in the door to a community college career. Opponents point out that many colleges have seniority hiring policies for part-timers. Given that the diversity in the part-time pool is greater in recent hires, should senior part-time faculty claim more hours, this could have the effect of shutting out more recentlyhired part-time faculty, reducing the diversity of current part-time ranks and by extension the pool from which future full-time faculty will be recruited. Proponents respond to these arguments by pointing out that less "freeway flying" could result in parttime faculty being on single campuses for a greater amount of time, permitting them to be more involved in activities such as curriculum development and governance.

They also argue that the 80% proposal in no way affects the current number of full-time faculty or the number of sections being taught by part-time faculty. The current required number of full-time faculty is set by the faculty obligation number (fon) issued by the System Office each year and changes when additional funding is given to the colleges/districts. violations of the fon result in colleges surrendering funds back to the system office. Finally, proponents point out that the system has made no movement towards achieving 75:25 in the last 16 years and that current regulations do not foster such movement. this, they emphasize, is the problem-not the 80% proposal.

Opponents point to the recent request by the system office to "forgive" violations of the fon by seven districts to show that reliance on the fon to protect fulltime positions is foolhardy. However, they agree that regulation needs to be developed that produces actual progress towards the 75:25 goal. Opponents also ask whether, if given the choice, part-time faculty will work more hours to make more money or use their savings in commute time on curriculum and governance. Proponents make one final argument connected to the 75:25 goal. Given the lack of progress in reaching this goal in the last 16 years, something needs to change. Proponents cite the complacency of those who have already achieved full-time positions as part of the problem. Should the worst-case-scenarios raised by opponents to the 80% proposal come to pass, this may actually shake up governance groups and full-time faculty enough so that something actually changes. Opponents point out that if your goal is to shake things up it would be much more effective to completely abolish the "temporary employee" category. some have argued that when the choice is between stasis and change, if stasis is not producing results, change is needed. Opponents find this concept puts too much at risk and that possibly irrevocable losses cannot justify change for change's sake.

Much of the rhetoric on both sides of the 80% proposal points to an unknown future should the proposal be adopted.

The Academic Senate relies on your earnest discussions at the local level, involving both full-time and part-time faculty, to decide how the Academic Senate should stand on this issue.