Paths forward: An open letter to the Board of Trustees, 9/27/12

To: Board of Trustees, City College of San Francisco

CC: Chancellor Fisher, college community

Re: Paths Forward

The Draft October 15th Progress Report you consider tonight represents a solid start; it shows the college’s tremendous efforts in meeting the challenge as well as both the dedication and the significant concern the community has for our college and its future.

However, we know the challenges will continue to mount as the Board seeks to solidify its plans to meet the March 15th Show Cause Report and considers the many options explicated in the draft Progress Report under review for October 15th.

We do not believe that meeting our accreditation or returning the District to fiscal stability necessitates abandoning the principles we collectively hold dear—of offering San Francisco’s diverse students quality education or of valuing and sustaining those who do the work to ensure our students are well served.

Moving forward, AFT 2121 calls on the Board to:

Operate with transparency and openness • We have a shared interest in understanding the process and the decisions, knowing when and how those decisions will be made. Access to accurate and verifiable information and data involved in the decision-making is essential. We note that some of the steps taken so far should have been more transparent, involving student, faculty, and staff input. The fact that we may not reach consensus does not negate our belief that a diversity of opinion, expertise, experience, and input makes for better problem-solving and decision-making.

Commit to improve educational quality and fair labor practices • We believe we can make constructive changes at City College without abandoning the need to serve our students or just and equitable labor principles and practices. The gains that we’ve made for employees reflect more than three decades of a collective bargaining process with the faculty union and were not rash or unthoughtful decisions. We have made thoughtful choices, such as growing the ranks of our full-time faculty—a matter that the college community has agreed is one of educational quality.

AFT 2121 believes in savvier enrollment management so long as we do not lose track of our commitment to quality educational programs as we consider, but do not become slaves to, “productivity.” We believe in professional development and improving our teaching and work with students and each other.

We will not extinguish decades of significant gains that have improved the livelihoods of faculty and our ability to serve our students more fully. AFT 2121 believes in pay equity, access to health care, and full-time jobs. These labor values, embraced by both the Union and the District over decades of negotiations—and noted and honored across the state and embodied in Legislation as well—have helped make CCSF a better college, one that reflects the values of San Francisco and the needs of our students and California’s future.

Respect Collective Bargaining • The faculty and staff at City College have demonstrated tremendous dedication and commitment. AFT 2121 has been at the table and has stepped up to the plate repeatedly over the years, and we are all working now to ensure the College’s success. We are, however, steadfastly opposed to rolling back the significant gains of 30 years of collective bargaining. Likewise, we call on the Board to ensure that all negotiable items are addressed at the appropriate bargaining tables.

Help ensure our financial stability • Inadequate funding is not our only challenge, but AFT 2121 believes it is primary: like all of public education in the state, we have a tremendous revenue problem. This is why we call on the Board and the campus community to work diligently to pass Prop A in San Francisco and Prop 30 statewide, and why we must defeat Prop 32, which would silence the voices of working and middle-class families in California.

The path forward

The tremendous effort that has already been made at multiple levels, including passing a balanced budget for the year, is testament to the College community’s fortitude and dedication. We are already making reforms that will benefit our students and make us better custodians of the community’s resources. We need an innovative combination of new efficiencies and savings and also new revenues (Proposition A). Measures to improve enrollment and scheduling, streamline management, and implement improved technologies will make better use of available resources with less damaging impacts on workers or students than other options that have been proposed.

It has been stated and restated: The CCSF Board of Trustees must make “difficult decisions” in order to move the college forward and return to fiscal stability and retain our accreditation. We ask you to make such decisions deliberatively, and without buying into the notion that our institution, too, must embrace the “race to the bottom” in order to survive and flourish.

On behalf of AFT 2121,

Alisa Messer

Posted in Board of Trustees, President's message

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