Update for Part-Time Faculty Regarding Class Assignment Process

Background: Our contract has had the following language governing class scheduling for many years:

4.211     Management and the Federation agree that the guiding principle in assigning Faculty to teach PCC courses is to assign the best Instructor available to teach each course…

1.     Once Management has determined the classes to be offered the next term, Full- time Faculty [and part-time faculty with Multi-year Contracts] will be assigned the classes needed to fulfill their workload requirement.

2.     Remaining classes will be assigned as follows with priority consideration given to part-time Faculty with assignment rights. Factors for priority consideration include, but are not limited to, whether the part-time faculty member with assignment rights has consistently received positive student evaluations that demonstrate effective teaching, and whether other qualified faculty are available who better meet the program’s needs (e.g. faculty with special training related to the course, faculty who can contribute to updating or broadening the program, or faculty who will increase the diversity of the program).

Assignment rights will sunset after Summer 2021, but the language of “priority consideration” remains.  How does an instructor GET priority consideration for class assignments under this article of our contract? Well, PCC’s administration has never had a process to determine how these considerations apply to scheduling decisions. They have preferred to leave it up to the discretion of department chairs and deans. This has led to a number of problems that members have brought forward:

  • There is no accountability for the decisions made
  • There is no transparency
  • There is no way for someone to know what they could do to earn priority consideration

Hoping to remedy these problems, we agreed during the 2019 negotiations to create a joint workgroup, tasked with creating a process for implementing this language in a transparent and consistent manner.

The new process: The joint workgroup first worked to get an agreement on a more detailed description of the competencies or contributions listed in our contract for priority consideration. Then we agreed to a voluntary process job-insecure instructors can use to upload an instructional portfolio via the MyCareer@PCC.edu. The Administration specified what kinds of portfolio materials would be relevant to each of the listed competencies, as is their right. And then together we created a rubric that will be used to assess the portfolios.  The new process is described in this document.

Why make this change?

  • The Reorganization is going to change the job descriptions of deans and department chairs AND who is doing those jobs, including scheduling classes. We have heard concerns from many “part-time” instructors – how can people they potentially don’t even know decide if they should be assigned classes? The “priority consideration for class assignment” process will provide a way for class assignments to be made in a consistent manner across the district, aligned with PCC’s vision of excellence in instruction, based on an instructional portfolio instead of a face-to-face relationship. 
  • Different judgments of FDCs and deans have been reflected in assessments — job-insecure instructors have been assessed as EXCELLENT in all or most categories on one campus, but as showing serious deficiencies when teaching the same class in the same way at another campus. There has been no institution-wide set of skills valued in instructors. Given this, many “part-timers” report that their real job-security revolved around their relationship with their chair. For instructors with good relationships, the system has seemed OK. But for instructors with strained relationships, or who felt they were not understood or appreciated by their chair, there has been little to no recourse.
  • Awarding of MYCs was inconsistent across the district — a complaint which the Administration heard lots of times and from lots of different sources. The “best available instructor” and “priority consideration in scheduling” process is intended to be used in some form for future MYC awards. We have no contractual guarantee or any specifics about how it would be used, but the joint team discussed multiple times that this is a shared goal.
  • A workgroup at SE campus brought forward the urgent concern, when we were bargaining in 2019, that there is no career ladder or pathway for advancement for “part-time” faculty at PCC. The Valencia model involves robust professional development explicitly tied to what the organization wants and expects from instructors. This has led to increased hiring from within when full-time positions open. There is no commitment or guarantee at this point from Administration to priority in hiring from within, but we have discussed this model at length. The Best Available Instructor/Priority Consideration in Scheduling process is a step in that direction.
  • Until now, if an instructor wanted to be assigned more classes, they could make that desire known. And wait. With fingers crossed. Although assignments of sections will still be precarious — impacted by declines or increases in enrollment, campus registration patterns, the interests or needs of full-time colleagues, etc — with the development of criteria for priority consideration in class assignment, and a clear rubric for assessing instructional portfolios, there will be, at last, something we can DO to make it more likely that we will receive class assignments. With the portfolio, and the rubric for assessing it (which will be shared in TLC sessions), we will know how to become better instructors as that is evaluated by PCC.

As with many issues in bargaining, there are trade-offs in the move to a new system. Here are some we heard in focus groups conducted in Fall 2020.

Pros Cons
-Increased consistency and transparency in course assignment
-Provides continuity through the expected shuffling of deans and chairs in the Reorg
-Provides the first step in an anticipated coordinated process for awarding MYCs and hiring new full-time instructors
-Allows “part-time” instructors to compile and document their professional development and college contributions in a centralized location, to be added to over time
-Creates a mechanism for FFAP to hold deans accountable for class assignment decisions
-Lots of work to create and maintain a portfolio for instructors, especially compared to assignment rights (once you got them, you kept them!) But most of the components should be readily available: syllabus and assignments, observation forms, student feedback
-Lots of work to assess and consider the portfolios for chairs and deans. The requested portfolio components and assessment rubric are new — they may need to be modified as we learn from using them
-There is STILL no seniority consideration in class assignmentAs more instructors meet the highest expectations on the rubric, there will eventually be no benefit — all instructors will be the best!!

The MAJOR complaint we have heard so far about this process is that there is no consideration of seniority. This could be a focus of bargaining in 2022-23 if job-insecure members of our unit decide it is a priority!