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Looking Ahead / One More Request / Capitol to Capitol
By Adam Wetsman
My father is a New Year’s baby born January 1, a day celebrated around the world. His birthday is even more noteworthy since he was born in 1930, following the great stock market crash, signaling one of the most economically challenging times ever for our nation and the world. Given the timing of his birth, my father sometimes jokes that he was conceived in prosperity and born into depression, a quip that seems particularly relevant as I assume the president’s position of FACCC. When I ran for president-elect in April 2016, the anticipated political landscape at the time offered great promise, much like that leading to the exuberance of early 1929. The reality as I assume office, while arguably not depressing, is certainly much different than what would have been imagined just a year ago, a reality that has and will have a significant impact on faculty and students alike.
Regardless of political leanings, there is little debate that the focus of educational leadership groups in California and across the nation has shifted over the last half year. Greater emphasis is now placed on helping students navigate such changes in federal policies as immigration and financial aid, along with adapting to a more sensitive campus climate where vulnerable populations are feeling besieged. For the faculty, one immediate concern is how the changed makeup of the Supreme Court can result in a ruling that dramatically reduces union membership.
FACCC is in a great position to confront these challenges while continuing to advocate for all community college faculty. We have a fantastic staff that manages our projects with great competency and enthusiasm, offering professional development opportunities throughout the year, communicating relevant information, and advocating in Sacramento (and increasingly in Washington, D.C.) for faculty and students.
In addition, our board draws from among the best leaders across the state. I have received sage wisdom from many of them, especially from former presidents Dennis Frisch, Rich Hansen, Dean Murakami, and Dennis Smith. Finally, one could not have asked for a better mentor than Shaaron Vogel, the immediate past president, for furthering my understanding of the organizational dynamics and for identifying the key tasks of a president.
It should be noted that over the past year these volunteer and staff leaders have been contributing to an ambitious and ongoing strategic planning initiative which entails a continuous evaluation of processes and programs within the organization. While there are many internal components to this effort, our ultimate goals are external: elevate the professionalism of the faculty, improve services to students, and fix problems with accreditation.
Over the next two years, I will be using my position as president to lead in the areas of importance to faculty. We will be at the forefront of advocating greater resources for all faculty, and we will be relentless in defense of pension security and pursuit of part-time faculty rights. The next year also presents an opportunity to engage in a gubernatorial campaign that will determine our state’s top elected official for the next four, if not eight, years. Nonetheless, as we continue our efforts at the state level, we must confront such challenges in Washington, D.C. as the erosion of financial aid, funding for workforce education, and the potential reversal by the Supreme Court of union fair share.
Throughout all this, I invite you to join me in fulfilling FACCC’s vision: Every faculty a member, every member an advocate. With over 58,000 faculty and 2.1 million students across 114 campuses in our system, we need to continue advancing our priorities at all levels of government. The future has tremendous potential for both faculty and students. I look forward to the challenge of leadership and hope to interact with you in the process.
Adam Wetsman teaches anthropolgy and archaeology at Rio Hondo College and is president of FACCC. Contact him at email@example.com.
One More Request
By: Shaaron Vogel
It is already time for me to bid you farewell as your FACCC president, and I want to take this time to thank you for your support and encouragement over these past two years. My term went too fast and I still had so much to do. Adam Wetsman will be a strong leader for our great organization and I have every confidence in his capacity to take FACCC to even greater heights in the representation of faculty.
When I reflect upon my service, I am especially proud of strengthening the ties with other faculty organizations, including ASCCC, CCA/CTA, CCC/CFT, and CCCI. When we stand together, we are so much stronger! Unions, senates and FACCC each offer a unique role and complement each other. Collaboration is a win-win for our faculty, colleges, and students.
As a formal farewell from my term as FACCC president (I continue service on the FACCC board) I ask you to please be engaged and participate at any level. Real change happens when we get involved and ask questions. Whether at the local or state level, you make a difference. You will meet fantastic people, feel tremendously empowered, and ultimately, make a meaningful difference.
So continue to read FACCC’s print, electronic, and social media, join a committee, and take a stand. This is the true definition of FACCCtivism, find your passion and follow it!
Shaaron Vogel teaches nursing at Butte College and is past president of FACCC.
Capitol to Capitol
By: Jonathan Lightman
For as long as I’ve been in politics, I do not recall a time where Sacramento and Washington, D.C. were as protractedly divided. Former Governor Pete Wilson famously frowned at Bill Clinton in the wake of the Northridge earthquake, but they ultimately worked together. Before that, Jerry Brown and Jimmy Carter had their issues, as did Arnold Schwarzenegger with George W. Bush two decades later. Needless to say, California has always been too important to ignore andno one in state government wants to bypass (or anger) the feds.
Today’s dynamic is totally upended. Following the November election, Assembly Speaker Rendon and Senate President pro Tem de León declared “[w]hile Donald Trump may have won the presidency, he hasn’t changed our values. America is greater than any one man or party. We will not be dragged back into the past. We will lead the resistance to any effort that would shred our social fabric or our Constitution.”
Resistance is a powerful word, particularly from the two legislative leaders of the world’s sixth largest economy. Yet, this is exactly what we have.
When Donald Trump complains that California is “out of control,” Jerry Brown notes “we’ll build our own damn satellites.” When federal discussions surface on a border wall between America and Mexico, California deliberates SB 30 (Lara) to preclude the state from doing business with any contractor engaged in that project. When federal immigration officials are told to step up their deportation efforts of the undocumented, our Legislature advances SB 54 (de León) to make California a
The juxtaposition between state and federal policy is most prominent in how the two budgets treat community colleges—public institutions that proudly embrace low-income, first-generation, and immigrant students.
In California, our colleges are receiving a major unallocated ongoing annual base increase of $183.6 million on top of new funds for part-time faculty office hours, veterans centers, deferred maintenance and instructional equipment, mental health services, and sexual assault training and prevention (amongst others). Additionally, our State Chancellor’s Office successfully garnered $150 million in one-time funds for the development of Guided Pathways.
Across the country, President Trump has proposed deep cuts in such areas as workforce education and financial aid. Perkins funds, which support CTE programs in community colleges and K-12, are slated under the president’s budget for a 15% reduction, slashing $9 million from our colleges. Adult Education Grants, Dislocated Worker Grants, and Youth Grants, all under the Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA), are subject to a 40%, 39%, and 15% reduction respectively. Just when California is looking to expand access to Cal Grants, the federal government has proposed elimination of Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG), affecting 83,568 of our students, along with a 49% reduction in the number of students participating in the federal work study program. Other programs, like TRIO and Gear Up, are subject to reductions, and the federal subsidized student loan program would disappear entirely.
As always, FACCC played a critical role in state budget advocacy, and this year, FACCC is joining with system partners to raise the visibility of California Community Colleges in Washington, DC. I recently returned from a quick trip with colleagues from the Community College League of California and Chancellor’s Office to raise the flag in Congress for our institutions. We were methodical in our message and uncompromising in our defense of the federal funding needed to serve our students (and in return, we received a positive response from Democrats and Republicans alike). This summer, moreover, the FACCC Board of Governors increased the association budget for federal lobbying, a necessary response to contemporary politics.
While we can take minor solace in our status as Californians, our state has no plans to secede from the union (aka Calexit). That means our attention must be on the White House as much as the State House. Please answer the call when asked to visit your member of Congress. Since all politics are local, we need to take advantage of community in community colleges. Local representatives will listen to us; we need to make ourselves visible.
Jonathan Lightman is executive director of FACCC.
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