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TCCTA Blog: Tenure in Kansas …and Elsewhere

Sharing this complete blog post on tenure. Speaking of, now that we have new faculty evaluation instrument, will our Board of Trustees finally restore tenure for new hires?


 

Tenure in Kansas …and Elsewhere

Posted: 10 Feb 2016 11:14 AM PST

The Kansas Legislature is considering a bill that would eliminate its administrative due process regimen for dismissing two-year college faculty, even if instructors have been employed for many years and possess so-called “continuing” contracts. Some media reports claim the lawmakers simply intend to abolish tenure.

In a controversial move two years ago, the same legislature repealed the due process system for K-12 teachers, but it was retained for community and technical colleges, according to an article by Edward M. Eveld, in the Kansas City Star.

There is no mention in the article of tenure at universities, which presumably would be unaffected by the proposed law.

Basically the legislation would allow institutional discretion in the dismissal of faculty members. If so it might resemble policies already in place at Texas community colleges, where there is presently a great deal of variety.

Some instructors here are awarded annual contracts, with no assurance (absent pertinent precedents regarding a “reasonable” expectation of being rehired, race, gender, etc.) of job security. Some colleges grant actual tenure for faculty, earned during a stipulated period, like practices at universities. A more common approach is the “rolling” contract, which gives teachers an extended time window to make corrections or pursue any appeals under due process.

So it’s complicated, dependent upon statutory and case law at the state and national level, in addition to local policies and procedures. You can get an earful from TCCTA attorneys at one of the association’s events.

But this much is clear. As job security, pensions, and other perquisites in the private sector have become casualties in the global economy, tenure (or something like it) has become a political target—pegged as a relic that has outlived its usefulness.

Please read the KCS article for choice quotes representing both sides of this issue.

Also not mentioned in the piece—right under our noses—is the elephant in the room: adjunct faculty. With the majority of classes at many schools taught by part-timers with virtually no job security, it becomes increasingly difficult to defend anything resembling tenure for full-timers. In fact, some colleges have devised a new hybrid category of instructor, with additional teaching responsibilities, but no pesky due process concerns.

Where’s our college nurse?

District sent out this notice to all employees and students:

Alamo Colleges is aware of the increased concern regarding the Ebola virus.  We are working very closely with the San Antonio Metropolitan Heath District and the Texas Department of State Health Services to ensure we are receiving the last information about this virus.

The safety and health of our students and employees remains our top priority.  We have created a webpage at www.alamo.edu/ebola to provide information and resources about Ebola.  We are committed to keeping you informed as we learn more so check the website for updates.

We will continue to partner with all public health experts at the local, state, and federal levels in monitoring this situation.  Thank you for your trust in the Alamo Colleges.

If the safety and health of our students was District’s top priority, why do we no longer have a college health center staffed with a nurse?

Student Evaluations

Another issue in play right now is how student course evaluations will be used to measure “success.” The SPC Faculty Senate discussed this issue at their last meeting as reported in The Ranger. The excellent TCCTA blog also published an article on this topic: “Student Evaluations Criticized.” Take a read through. It brings up a lot of excellent points that our own faculty have already made. And if you don’t already subscribe to the TCCTA blog, we highly recommend that you give it a go. They are on top of all kinds of community college issues.

12-month faculty contract without full pay? Say it ain’t so.

The following document is making the rounds at SAC: 12-month faculty contract transition

What starts out as a recommendation for “equitable salary alignment” quickly becomes a scenario of extreme concern to all faculty. The last paragraph suggests a mandate which forces counseling, nursing faculty and yet-to-be-identified other full-time faculty to choose between (a) working both summer sessions for 130% of adjunct pay or (b) losing their jobs.

3. By the end of the 2014 Fall term, the faculty member will also indicate commitment to the 12-month employment need.  If the faculty member chooses not to commit to 12-month employment beginning in Fall 2015, the faculty member may choose to teach a partial load at 130% of the effective Adjunct Faculty rate in Summer 2015 and will be acknowledging he/she will no longer be in a faculty position beginning in Fall 2015.

The Board’s compensation decision for summer pay rate at 130% of adjunct (instead of pro rata) was because summer work was NOT mandatory. Summer teaching contracts are voluntary extra work and pay. Salary increases to the 9-month contract helped make up some of the summer shortfall, but not all of it. With the 130% of adjunct pay policy instituted for the summer months, District expected the same amount of work from faculty in the summer with less pay. Naturally, more full-time faculty have been declining this summer contract option. So this is their solution to filling the need for full-time faculty in those summer contracts: offer them a deal they can’t refuse. Take the 12 month contract or else you don’t teach here anymore.

Also of interest: Last year our now ex-President Dr. Zeigler attempted to turn counselors into 12-month faculty with pro-rata pay. That deal fell through. And now this pops up to take it’s place. Just to be clear, this memo specifically mentions counseling and nursing faculty but what will stop each college from identifying a 12-month “need” in other departments?

SAC Faculty Senate, SAC AAUP and ACCD Faculty Legal Action Association are all seeking more clarification on the issues raised in this memo.

If you have information about this or any other District initiative, please contact us at sacaaup@gmail.com. As we start another school year, let us remain vigilant in keeping “community” in our community colleges.

A Win for Free Speech

From Inside Higher Ed:

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously Thursday that a community college employee who testified about an Alabama legislator’s no-show job had First Amendment protection when he did so. The ruling allows the employee — whose job was subsequently eliminated — to pursue a claim that he lost his position in retaliation for his testimony.

Justice Sotomayor’s decision, however, said that Garcetti should not apply in a case where the speech directly relates to matters of public concern and the duties of a citizen. “[P]ublic employees do not renounce their citizenship when they accept employment,” she wrote. “Truthful testimony under oath by a public employee outside the scope of his ordinary job duties is speech as a citizen for First Amendment purposes. That is so even when the testimony relates to his public employment or concerns information learned during that employment.”

Read more: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2014/06/20/supreme-court-says-first-amendment-protects-truthful-speech-community-college#ixzz35D5sBqSG
Inside Higher Ed