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Chaparral 2011-2012: Adjunct Junction

Adjunct Junction

Adjunct Junction by Phyllis Eckler, Guild 2nd Vice President

Out-of-Office Reply

 

In the latest round of negotiations for a new three-year contract, the district has suggested ending adjunct office hours for students. Adjunct office hours have been a part of our contract at Glendale College for over ten years, allowing faculty to follow up with students who have missed classes or fallen behind. Yet now, pay for adjunct faculty to provide conferencing time to students may go the way of the dinosaur in this district. I believe that this is a short-sighted and harmful way to balance the budget.

     The State Chancellor’s Office Student Success Task Force (SSTF) report recently pointed out that more counseling is needed for students to find their footing in the college environment. It states that for students to succeed in college, districts need to  “Design a centralized assessment system that includes…an assessment of 'college knowledge' and the extent to which a student understands and exhibits key academic behaviors and habits of mind necessary for success in college." Even if such an assessment matrix were available for counselors to use, as faculty, we all know that students may be ready in some areas to tackle college material but may be struggling with behaviors and/or skills necessary in a particular discipline. A student who has never worked cooperatively in a team or never performed a hands-on lab experiment sometimes needs direct intervention and help from a faculty member who can analyze the problem area and work with the student outside of class time.

     Counselors and assessment professionals can glean only a generalized profile of a student’s weaknesses and then provide generalized support to these struggling students. It’s only in the classroom through direct contact with student work that problems can be assessed, and it’s only during office hours with individualized instruction and attention that faculty can follow up in a respectful, private way with each student. Office hours have always been a requirement for full-time contract faculty for these very reasons. As our college continues using adjunct faculty to fill the vacancies left by retiring full-timers, are we going to pull back on this important remedial teaching time for students, simply because the state has given districts that option? 

     A current piece of legislation, AB1456 (Lowenthal), arising from the SSTF report, requires that students make adequate academic progress (ostensibly towards a career, transfer or degree goal) in order to be eligible for a Board of Governors fee waiver. The state of California wants to make sure that students who are being educated for free, using tax dollars, are heading toward a job or career that will one day provide them with a livelihood so that these citizens are not taking from tax coffers but rather are contributing to state revenues. In this respect adjunct faculty are perfectly poised to fulfill such an advisory role, during office hours.  Overburdened college counselors may not have the experience, knowledge or time to provide adequate career counseling in a particular field. Adjunct faculty are often out there in the real world working in the profession for which they are also providing training to students. Who better to provide real-world advice and guidance to students who approach them for help in choosing a career path?

     Glendale College needs to think long and hard on what makes our student outcomes and matriculation among the best among California’s community colleges. To ignore the contribution of countless office hours toward the successes we see in our students is a tremendously short-sighted mistake.

There will be an Unemployment Benefit Workshop for adjunct faculty on Saturday, June 2 from 1:30-3:30p.m. in the Los Robles Dining Room. This workshop will explain how to apply for these benefits, provide sources for other college-related employment and answer questions about the state and college budget for next academic year. This workshop is sponsored by the Glendale College Guild. No food will be provided and an RSVP is not necessary.

Phyllis Eckler

Phyllis Eckler

For any comments or question, Phyllis Eckler can be reached at peckler@glendale.edu or at extension 1122.

Workshop for Adjunct Saturday, June 2 from 1:30-3:30 p.m. in the Los Robles

There will be an Unemployment Benefit Workshop for adjunct faculty on Saturday, June 2 from 1:30-3:30p.m. in the Los Robles Dining Room. This workshop will explain how to apply for these benefits, provide sources for other college-related employment and answer questions about the state and college budget for next academic year. This workshop is sponsored by the Glendale College Guild. No food will be provided and an RSVP is not necessary.

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