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California adjuncts pinched by budget cuts.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Part-time faculty at colleges around California are brushing up their resumes, checking their bank accounts and lobbying for better unemployment insurance in the wake of a state budget crisis that is leaving many of them jobless.

The state's 108 community colleges are preparing to face a 10 percent budget cut for 2003-2004. The crisis is expected to hike student fees and to force as many as 200,000 students to leave the community college system next year.

As a result, colleges are cutting thousands of course sections, slashing summer-school offerings and scaling back student services such as counseling and tutoring.

Faculty advocates say the first people to lose under this scenario, in addition to the students, will be part-timers, who have no job security and are easy to let go.

"We estimate that 50 percent of the classes historically ear-marked for part-time faculty to teach are going away," said Robert B. Yoshioka, governor-at-large with the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges. "This doesn't mean that half of the 35,000 people who teach part-time in community colleges will go away, but some will. If you teach one class, and it's taken away, then you're gone. If you teach three classes, and lose one, you will still be around to play another day."

Some advocates are concerned that the fiscal crisis and the resulting lack of work may permanently drive some "freeway fliers"--those who drive back and forth to several colleges to make up a full-time load--out of the teaching profession.

"Half of our class pools are being expunged from the catalog," Yoshioka said. "A lot of people are talking about moving on--and that's to the detriment of our students."

The crisis in part-time teaching assignments is also affecting California State University instructors, including Mary Ellen Goodwin, chair of the California Part-Time Faculty Association, who formerly taught in community colleges but now teaches at San Jose State University.

"In spring, I only have one class. That is all I have anywhere," Goodwin said. "I am looking for work outside academia, which is not an easy thing to do in Silicon Valley, when people are being laid off right and left."

While faculty advocates are fighting to keep classes open, they are also throwing their support behind AB 237, a bill in the state Assembly that would make it easier for part-timers to collect unemployment at the end of the academic term.

"We are going to have to toughen up the willingness to give part-time faculty unemployment benefits," said Mary Millet, part-time coordinator for the California Federation of Teachers, who also teaches at Palomar College. "At my college, there have been 171 courses cut."

College administrators say they are faced with few choices in the urgent need to cut costs. They are consolidating classes, dropping those with low enrollment and cramming more students into others. Irvine Valley College is eliminating 160 sections from its spring schedule. The Coast Community College District, which oversees Orange Coast, Coastline and Golden West colleges, said it will cut its summer classes by 70 percent and could eliminate more than 2,000 sections in the fall.

Until the state's economy improves, budgets are unlikely to become more bounteous. The state Legislature is now considering whether to enact the governor's proposed reductions or modify them. A controversial proposal to raise student fees next year 118 percent, from $11 per unit to $24 per unit, will also be debated.

In addition to fewer classes to teach, the governor's proposed budget cuts by 10 percent the $57 million in equity money allotted in 2002-2003 to help improve salaries for part-timers. Gov. Davis' proposals for next year would reduce funding for part-time health insurance to $550,000 and funding for part-time office hours to $3.95 million, according to Jonathan Lightman, executive director of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges.

"Those are very substantial reductions," Lightman said. "We don't consider part-time faculty to be a part of surplus labor that can be discarded at will. These are professionals who work exceptionally hard under very adverse conditions."
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Title Annotation:reduced state aid to higher education will result in fewer classes, teacher layoffs
Author:Fisher, Marla Jo
Publication:Community College Week
Geographic Code:1U9CA
Date:Feb 17, 2003
Words:679
Previous Article:For Florida faculty, teaching goes South.
Next Article:Wash. high court rules against adjuncts in $40 million overtime suit.
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