Discussions have come up on our campus about evaluations. The union wants to start reviewing some of the aspects of evaluations, and many of our part-time faculty members who lost jobs due to budget cuts are angry since they feel our evaluation process did not adequately include and protect them. What role does the senate have in evaluations, and where should we begin the conversation?
Looking for the starting line
The senate does have a role in determining the evaluation process, so we are glad you asked about it. Education Code §87663 describes most of the required aspects of the evaluation process. The only noted differences between evaluating full- and parttime faculty are the timelines and frequencies of evaluation. The Academic Senate recommends that there be only one evaluation process for all faculty; however it is recognized that differences in job duties between full- and part-time faculty may cause the evaluation criteria to vary slightly.
Education Code §87663(f ) states that “in those districts where faculty evaluation procedures are collectively bargained, the faculty’s exclusive representative shall consult with the academic senate prior to engaging in collective bargaining regarding those procedures.” Your senate can wait for an invitation to join the conversation or send a gentle reminder to the union leadership of the senate’s role as defined above. Different timelines and protocols by the union may cause the senate some challenges, so a call to the union leadership earlier rather than later is recommended. This is the best place to begin.
Section 87633 of Education Code also dictates the required participants in the evaluation process. Section (c) states that “evaluations shall include, but not be limited to, a peer review process,” and states in sections (g) and (i) that it is the intent of the Legislature that both students and administrators be included in the evaluation process to the extent possible. The senate will have to decide if and how to include students and administrators in the process, but more importantly, the faculty will have to take ownership of the peer review process named in the law.
Some questions that your senate can consider are: What does good and great teaching (counseling, assisting students in the library, etc.) look like? Is there a difference? How do we know it when we see it? What other factors are important when evaluating peers? Is self-evaluation desirable? How can colleagues develop coaching language to assist in the improvement of teaching? What are some techniques for evaluating online classes? What about other less-traditional types of instruction? What training is required for faculty to feel confident in evaluating peers?
We encourage you to have broad, campus-wide discussions among all faculty—full-time and parttime—to generate answers to the above questions. Only then will the senate be positioned to provide recommendations to the union. Good luck!