Turn City College’s priorities right side up

The proposed 2013-14 budget represents some progress and improvement for CCSF—but it would make us weaker in others. Sure, we will offer more classes than we have been able to recently, including a full summer school—and for now, that puts the threat of City College shrinking any further on hold. But it does not begin to rebuild or recapture what was lost. And the administration is unrelenting in demanding concessions, on top of the cuts piled on over the past years. Among other things, it is their intention to roll faculty wages back to before 2006!  

During the budget presentation at the March 25th Board of Trustees meeting, there was no mention of the pain that the proposed 2013-14 budget would visit on faculty, staff, and the quality of education at City College. No one talked about the fact that this budget would not help to get us back to base enrollment—or that it includes an ongoing 5% wage cut to all faculty and administrators.

Let’s put the budget figures in perspective: in November, voters who supported Proposition A put $15.2 million dollars on the table to close CCSF’s budget gap. But the District’s proposal doesn’t use this money to restore classes and programs, faculty or staff. On the contrary, this tentative budget unbalances what could have been a careful, planned approach to the College’s financial stability—one with clear priorities acknowledging the value of both students and workers. Instead, it has millions going immediately into reserves; it doubles expenses for lawyers; it continues heavy spending on consultants; it triples expenses for maintenance; it increases the technology budget, long neglected, by 38,000%. Not one dollar of the money voters entrusted to CCSF in November is allocated to restore the labor value of our members. If the district gets its wish list, we as faculty are looking at a permanent 5% salary cut, additional rollback of 10% in pro-rata pay for part-timers, a shift in health care costs onto the backs of employees, and class cancellations at the whim of the administration. Students will continue to have trouble getting the services they need and deserve to be successful at the College. The struggle to maintain—let alone improve—the quality education San Franciscans deserve is in further jeopardy all the time.

The show cause report to ACCJC has been submitted, and the accreditation visiting team has come and gone. We have done our due diligence in addressing their recommendations, and we have spent countless hours in documenting and justifying our college’s continued existence. This scrutiny has strained our resources, taxing energies that still must go toward the normal functions of teaching, counseling, and serving students. It’s time to take a breath and remember that our college remains a place where students receive a quality education, and where faculty are dedicated to the mission of the City College we love.

We are not alone in this fight. In Chicago, in Seattle, and in school districts around the country afflicted by disingenuous “reforms,” teachers’ unions are gathering strength and standing up for the principles that inform our work as educator. AFT 2121 is building momentum in our campaign, and this extends through the efforts of our members into organizing, publicizing the struggle, and connecting with and within the community.
Our Member Organizing Committee (MOC) is gaining steam, engaging faculty who are concerned not only about their own paychecks, but about the misguided reforms and missteps the CCSF administration is making that will diminish the ability of City College to serve our community long after most of them have moved on. Let us know you’re ready to help by dropping us a line at organize@aft2121.org. We’re all in this together. (amesser@aft2121.org)

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