We're Constantly in Fear: The life of a part-time professor

It is important to understand that for the community college model to work, the college must maintain staffing flexibility to respond to enrollment surges and declines, as well as erratic state funding. Remember that community colleges are to serve anyone who has the 'ability to benefit'. It is a complicated matter. Each California community college has a 'cap' or enrollment maximum (called FTES) which is not unlike the ADA compensation for K-12. The FTES dictates how many students each college may serve, based on a full-time equivalency formula. There is also a minimum 'cap' below which the college is penalized financially if not enough FTES is 'earned'. Full-time tenured faculty are employed as the 'core' teaching academy. Part-time faculty balance the ebb and flow and help the college serve students who show up at the beginning of each semester. (Remember that four-year colleges largely know how many students they will be serving each year far ahead of time and do not have to face the unknown of how many 'butts in seats' there will be on opening day.) The picture is further complicated for community colleges because full-time faculty often have contracts that provide them with first dibs on any extra teaching opportunities to bolster their bottom lines...this is called 'overload' and many community college faculty unions have been quite adept at making it possible for their full timers to earn well in excess of $100,000, and even more than what some top administrators make in a given year. Some even receive 'release time' for service on the Academic Senate or union leadership but choose to take that bonus on top of still teaching a full load. Every class so taught by full-time faculty deprives part-timer of the opportunity. The State of California has not provided the funding for colleges to maintain the 75% to 25% ratio of full to part-time staffing that was legislated some years ago.
— March 10, 2016 12:35 p.m.

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