Overuse and Undercompensation of Part-Time Faculty in the California Community Colleges


The overuse and undercompensation of part-time faculty in the California Community Colleges continues to be one of the major challenges the system faces in its efforts to provide quality education to the residents of the state. In California 65.6% of faculty are part-time,1 and full-time faculty teach just 58.7% of the total equivalent instructional load.2 Nationally, full-time faculty teach 62.0% of the total load.3 In California part-time faculty are generally paid only for direct classroom contact hours at an average rate of $35.82 per hour.4 If CCC fulltime faculty were paid just for direct classroom contact hours (which they are not-full-time compensation covers a wide range of duties, as we shall point out), average hourly values would range from $61.91 (entry level Masters degree) to $127.28 (highest doctorate).5 Nationally, parttime faculty are compensated at the rate of $60.42 per hour.6 This problem has literally exploded in the last few years. Over the last twenty-five years the growth in part-time faculty has been five times that of full-time: 49% increase in full-time positions but 266% increase in part-time.7 The factors listed below show the extent of the problem.

This system which pays parttime faculty low wages based only on classroom hours encourages colleges to overuse part-time faculty to balance their budgets. While reasonable use of part-time faculty adds much to the college, including current experience in the profession, specific expertise that may not be available from full-time staff, and direct contact with employers, budgetary savings MUST NOT be the driving force for the use of part-time faculty.

Because part-time faculty are generally compensated only for direct classroom contact hours, the many other duties of a professional faculty member are either left to the full-time faculty or performed by the part-time faculty member without compensation. It is extremely important to realize that these problems are the result of a system which overuses, undercompensates, and recognizes only classroom duties rather than being attributable to deficiencies in part-time faculty themselves. Full-time faculty can do much by reaching out to involve part-time faculty in professional activities, but a fundamental change in the system is needed for lasting improvements.

Productivity. Nationally, parttime faculty average 2 classes per term with a class size of about 20 and work a total of 30 hours per week in and out of the classroom. Full-time faculty teach 4 classes averaging 25 students each (25% more proportionally) and work 47 hours (20% less proportionally).8

Office Hours. Student learning demands the opportunity to work directly with the instructor in an individualized learning environment. Nationally, part-time faculty devote 1 office hours per class while full-time faculty hold almost 2.8

Informal Contact. Formal office hour contact accounts for only about two-thirds of the time community college instructors spend with students outside of class. Full-time faculty spend almost 25% more time informally with students.8

Preparation and Experience. In California, all community college faculty must meet minimum qualifications to be employed, generally a master's degree in academic disciplines and an AA with six years experience, or a BA plus two years, in occupational disciplines. Nationally, only 66.8% of parttime community college faculty have a masters degree or greater compared with 83.3% of full-time faculty.8 Full-time faculty have almost twice the teaching experience of part-time faculty, 6.5 years to 11.6 years, by the national average. 9

Program Advising and Follow-Up. Working with students to select classes in the major taught by the faculty member and providing follow-up services like letters of recommendation is a task borne primarily by full-time faculty.

Curriculum Development. "Permanent faculty members must be present in sufficient numbers to develop courses, research new trends, set requirements, and design courses and programs."9 The complexity of curriculum reforms for CalWORKs, emerging industries, and applications of technology spurred by such developments as the California Virtual University have increased the pace of curriculum reform tremendously.

Program Review, Accreditation, and Accountability. Providing external accountability for the quality and productivity of programs is a responsibility that is carried predominantly by full-time faculty.

Hiring and Evaluation. The selection of new faculty, both fulland part-time, as well as evaluation of all faculty, is done primarily by full-time faculty in partnership with supervising administrators.

Involvement in College Governance. Part-time status "usually means being outside the structure of faculty governance."10 Thus lending the expertise of the faculty on academic and professional matters usually falls to full-timers. Additionally, only 10% of parttime faculty are protected by collective bargaining.10

Professional Development. Many hours are needed for faculty members to keep current in their field of expertise and in contemporary methods of teaching. Generally, full-time faculty devote more time to this activity than do part-time faculty.

Articulation. The transferability of courses requires communication with the faculty in related departments at four-year colleges and universities. Smooth transition of students from high school to college requires curriculum alignment between feeder high schools and regional community colleges. This work is carried out by the full-time faculty along with the professional articulation staff of the college.

Employer Relations. Vocational faculty work directly with employers in their field from the community. This assures current and relevant curriculum and provides direct contacts for student job placement. While many parttime faculty are employed fulltime in the industry, regular working relationship with the full range of employers in the college's service area is usually handled by the full-time faculty.

Community Relations. Many faculty have strong ties to the community. Service in the name of the college is generally provided by full-time rather than parttime faculty.

Student Activities. Extracurricular activities are an important facet of college life. Studies have shown that students with these types of ties to the college have better retention rates and greater goal completion. Typically, fulltime faculty serve as advisors to such student organizations.

Some assert that movements to obtain more funding for fulltime faculty and to improve the lot of part-time faculty are a scam to put more money in the pockets of faculty or that hiring more fulltime faculty and providing equitable pay to part-time faculty will push the cost of education through the roof. In reality, instructor's salaries make up only 52.54% of the current expense of education.11 Furthermore, CCC faculty work harder than is typical throughout the country and our colleges receive less funding per student. In 1993-94 California Community College class sizes averaged 32 in contrast to about 20 for the nation, and apportionment per full-time equivalent student was just $3554 compared to a national average of $6022.12 We are proud of the work we do in our system of education and would seek to improve what we do by having more full-time faculty to provide the above services to students and by compensating part-time faculty equitably so that they can have the resources to be full professionals in serving students. Here are a few things of which we are proud and would like to do even better:

California Community Colleges have a tremendous impact on wages. Vocational program completers show an 85.6% wage gain in three years.13

California has the highest access in the nation. In our state 8.4% of the adult population was served by a community college in 1994-95, highest in the nation which averaged just 4.9%.14

Community colleges make California's population one of the best educated in the nation. 52.2% of Californians have gone to college compared to the national average of 46.6%.15

We educate the state's neediest residents. In 1992 community college students had an annual family income of $23,900 compared to the state average of $37,600. (UC and CSU averages were $32,800 and $48,800, respectively.)16

The 45,000 full- and part-time faculty of the California Community Colleges and their representatives in state faculty organizations have worked diligently to address the abuse of part-time faculty. Efforts to increase the number of full-time faculty such as SB 877 (Vasconcellos) and AB 1714 (Wildman) deserve your support as do efforts to provide equitable compensation for part-time faculty such as SB 1848 (Karnette).

The abuse of part-time faculty in the California Community Colleges has been ingrained over many years. It will not be solved easily. Serious solutions require a unified effort by all educators. Divisiveness which pits faculty against administrators or parttime against full-time will only allow this biased and ill-conceived system to continue. Long-suffering and dedicated part-time faculty need our support for fair compensation and professional treatment. Students deserve a learning experience provided by faculty who have adequate resources, access to professional services and advancement, and are full participants in the educational enterprise, whether they choose to do so on a full- or part-time basis.

1 "Report on Staffing and Salaries - Fall 1996." Chancellor's Office, California Community Colleges, October 1997. Table B1: 15,342 FTF; 29,230 PTF.

2 "Report on Staffing and Salaries - Fall 1996." Table B2: 14,006 Full-Time Equivalent Faculty; 9,860 Part-Time Equivalent Faculty.

3 "National Profile of Community Colleges: Trends & Statistics 1997-1998." American Association of Community Colleges, 1997. Table 5.7. Original source data provided by AACC editor Kent Phillippe via e-mail (kphillippe [at] aacc.nche.edu) on 8/28/98.

4 "Community College Compensation Report - 1996/97 Selected Salaries for Full Time and Part-time faculty in California." Community College Association/CTA/NEA, September, 1997. Value quoted is the median of the average hourly wages paid by the 71 districts.

5 "Community College Compensation Report." Median values are reported.

6 "National Profile of Community Colleges." Table 5.10: Reported value is $1450 per month. Assuming 2 classes (the national average) equates to 24 hours per month, the hourly rate is $60.42.

7"The Vanishing Professor." American Federation of Teachers, Summer 1998. (www.aft.org/higheduc/professor).

8 "National Profile of Community Colleges." Table 5.10.

9 "Statement from the Conference on the Growing Use of Part-Time and Adjunct Faculty." American Association of University Professors, September 1997.

10 "The Status of Non-Tenure-Track Faculty." American Association of University Professors, June 1993. Data is for two- and four-year faculty.

11 "Fiscal Data Abstract 1996-97." Chancellor's Office, California Community Colleges, March 1998. Table VI.

12 "2005. A Report of the Task Force for the Chancellor's Consultation Council. Chancellor's Consultation Council, California Community Colleges, September 1997. Table 3.

13 "The Effectiveness of California Community Colleges on Selected Performance Measures." Chancellor's Office, California Community Colleges. June 1997. Table 2.86.

14 "Access to the California Community Colleges. A Technical Paper for the 2005 Task Force of the Chancellor's Consultation Council." Chancellor's Office, California Community Colleges, November 1997. Chart 12.

15 "Access to the California Community Colleges." Chart 16. In California 27.5% have some college while 24.7% have a BA or more. National figures are 24.3% and 22.3%, respectively.

16 "Trends Important to California Community Colleges. A Technical Paper for the 2005 Task Force of the Chancellor's Consultation Council." Chancellor's Office, California Community Colleges, November 1997. Page 9 and Figure 12.