I found Leonard Bernstein's article, "Freeway Flyers" (Feb. 3) an accurate report on the shameful conditions that hundreds of community college teachers in San Diego must tolerate in order to keep their jobs. Mr. Bernstein has done his homework!
The vast majority of teachers in the San Diego Community College District are non-contract faculty. Paradoxically, the largest group of teachers are the most abused.
The Hourly Faculty Assn. (HFA) has identified three areas of abuse, and, with the endorsement of both California Teachers Assn. and American Federation of Teachers, the HFA is demanding immediate reforms within the district. These areas of abuse are the following:
- Community college students are not receiving the best quality education. Students are unable to meet and discuss with most instructors outside the classroom because the majority of instructors have no office hours, nor even office space in which to hold conferences with students. As a result the students' retention rate in community colleges is dropping.
Students are not being enriched with the most desirable textbooks because it is impossible to order materials in time for classes which are often assigned at the last minute. "Freeway flyers" are stuck with the choice of mediocre textbooks or no textbooks at all.
- The non-contract faculty members (many of the "freeway flyers") suffer from inferior working conditions. They have no job security; they have few or no district benefits; they are paid lower wages.
- The non-contract faculty members are disenfranchised by the district. They cannot vote for their department chairperson; they cannot run for the elected post of department chair. They are very often not even informed of departmental meetings. They cannot hold office in the established Faculty Senates.
On Dec. 16, the HFA submitted a platform to the five members of the San Diego Community College District Board of Trustees. We asked each member of the board to endorse the separate planks of this platform. Our only political tool against these board members who continue to ignore the immediate needs of the great majority of college teachers is to recall them from office or to campaign against them in November elections when three of the five can be replaced with true advocates for teachers' rights.
The biggest obstacle to serious reform in the San Diego Community College District is voter apathy: Do the citizens of San Diego know about these abuses that their teachers must absorb, or do they not care?