“Education governance ought to have as its main goal helping students achieve their educational goals.”
So states the Trustee Handbook, published by the Community College League of California. One would think this is the first thing a member of the Board of Trustees would learn.
Unfortunately, it appears to be the first thing some members of the Hancock College board forgot.
In a recent letter, the president of the board makes it clear where he stands, and it is not on the side of helping students achieve their educational goals.
You do not help students achieve their goals by withholding funds while at the same time cutting the number of classes being offered, which the board is doing by increasing the budget reserve.
You do not help students achieve their goals by giving raises to the administration and perks to board members while telling teachers they must go on working for the same pay they received five years ago.
You do not help students achieve their goals by treating their college as if it were a corporation determined to show a profit, rather than as an institution of higher learning.
You help students achieve their goals by remembering the college’s purpose is education, that it is the teachers with whom students interact, and that without them there would be no college. It is on this the board should be focused. It is unfortunate for the students it is not.
Actions speak louder than words, and the actions of the board and administration speak volumes. While the board and administration pay lip service to putting students first, their actions tell a different story. Every year, the number of classes offered decreases. The overall number of faculty declines. Services are cut. While the district pleads poverty, its actions make it clear it has money when it wants to.
Last October, both administration and board members were touting the college’s “stable budget” when the president was given a raise and retroactive pay. But when it comes time to discuss increasing pay for the college’s employees, a cry of poverty goes out. Yet, this lament of poverty has not prevented board members from continuing to receive perks and free medical benefits, nor has it prevented the administration from continuing to receive its 2.1-percent longevity raise.
The actions of the district send a clear message: If sacrifices are to be made, they must be made by those least able to bear them — students, classified staff and teachers. There is no spirit of working together, and no effort to share the pain. Those best able to make sacrifices will give up nothing, and in fact will continue to receive even more. This is a one-way arrangement that needs to be changed.
The administration and board need to show leadership and set an example. It is time for them to live up to their task of “helping students achieve their educational goals.”
Student goals are not met by withholding funds meant to benefit them. Student goals are not met by cutting classes. Student goals are not met by giving raises to the administrators and perks to the board.
It is time for the board and the administration to live up to their words. It is time for the board to show its priorities are on education. It is time for the board and administration to show they want students to achieve their educational goals.
Mark James Miller is president of the Part-Time Faculty Association of Allan Hancock College. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.