Peralta Community College District's Only Student-Run Publication
Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Peralta Community College District's only student-run publication.

The Citizen

Students discuss their work in class at the MESA center at American River College on April 25, 2024. (Photo: Cristian Gonzalez/CalMatters)
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    Faculty protests after Peralta District claims poverty despite spending millions on administrative hires

    Several members of the Peralta Federation of Teachers donned orange T-shirts Sept. 27 and marched from PFT headquarters across 8th Street to the Peralta Board of Trustees meeting where faculty members protested the trustees’ approval of new administrative positions at a time of alleged austerity.

    Rick Greenspan, from the College of Alameda, was the first to speak. “I want to talk about something I know is near and dear to the heart of all trustees,” he began. “Fiduciary responsibility. Making sure you are careful with how you spend our money.


    “When enrollment goes down,” he said, “and state funding goes down, the way that you get through this problem is you continue to run your classes even if they are smaller classes. You don’t cut the classes and do something else with the money.”

    The College of Alameda is now hiring two academic deans in addition to the two already in place. When Greenspan tried to find out where the money was coming from to hire the new deans he was met with silence. “But the chancellor assured Greenspan it would be revealed in January. That never happened, Greenspan said.

    Referring to the new hires announced at the beginning of the meeting Greenspan said, “That’s $175,000. That’s the equivalent of about 100 class sections. The money could go to fund smaller classes instead of having 60 people in a math class. Our priorities are wrong.”

    His remarks were followed by prolonged cheering and applause.

    PFT president Ed Jaramillo, has pushed for transparency and accountability on the budget. He pointed out that the district is sitting on a $14 million reserve, the largest in memory. “Show us the money!” he wrote in the April PFT newsletter.

    After years of sacrifice, many feel that the faculty needs to be made whole. One speaker after another raised the issue of compensation for time spent on professional development. Recently that compensation was cut back without warning.


    Inger Stark, a sociology professor at Laney and also the distance education coordinator, spoke of the massive workload shouldered by those faculty who undertook teaching the distance education courses.

    She reeled off a daunting list of software programs that must be mastered to begin with: Moodle, Turnitin, Camtasia, Google Docs and Pages, InDesign, Revel, Jing, Zoom, 3C, Softchalk, Prezi, SimBuild, and VoiceThread. In addition, the professor must have a Youtube channel.

    “There is no graduate level course that teaches all that software,” she added. Faculty members learn the programs on their own time. And then they must learn how to translate meaningful in person lessons into meaningful online lessons, again on their own time.

    Laney College Ethnic Studies Professor Alicia Caballero rose to add, “Some of us are working 80 hours a week, on Saturdays and Sundays, for our students. Professional development time is not adequately compensated, especially for part-time faculty,” she said.

    Laney College Sociology Professor Cynthia Mahabir, part time faculty rep, spoke of the continuing pay gap between part time and full time faculty, from three percent to 17 percent for equal work.

    Part time faculty are also paid for only one hour a week of office hours with students.

    This is particularly self-defeating because studies show, she said, that the student-faculty relationship is strongly correlated with student success and student retention. By refusing to pay for faculty time with students the district ends up losing the students and thus, also, the state funding for those students.

    Mahabir submitted a spreadsheet (converted to a graph) showing the growing disparity between part time and full time faculty as each progresses up the steps. (see graph below).

    And the full-time faculty actually start at step 9, so the spreadsheet and graph make the picture look better than it actually is.

    Sean Slaughter, a returning Laney student, added publicity to the list of problems that undermine student enrollment. “When I was a youngster,” he began, “Laney would run 30-second commercials.”

    The commercials would highlight electricians, the carpentry department, culinary arts or the cosmetology department. “Laney College” the ad would sayor “Aviation for Alameda” — “go for it!”

    “Today, every now and then you see a commercial. All it says is ‘Come register for Laney.’ And when you try to register there’s difficulty trying to get through the system. Sometimes it accepts you, and sometimes it doesn’t.”

    He told the story of a young man he’d met recently who had come from Kentucky to go to Moler Barber College, a private school in Oakland. The student had borrowed $10,000 to pay for his education.

    But the young student had never heard of Laney College, and had no idea that Laney has a full-fledged cosmetology program. Laney’s program is in fact superior to the commercial barber school the unfortunate young man from Kentucky had tied himself to, as the Laney program provides instruction in the business aspects of cosmetology practice and the practical skills.


    Three more students spoke, all from the culinary program. Ben Fisher, a second semester student, described in a voice choked with feeling his disappointment at being six weeks in and still waiting for the steam tables to be working so that the students could begin to cook.

    Amoy Senior said, “We are being treated as workers, not as students. We learn nothing by putting salad into a container. When she asks for answers she is told that the experience is teaching her about adversity.

    “I am a female immigrant from a third world country who has raised a son. I know about adversity. I am here for an education. In culinary. Not in adversity.”

    As she turned from the podium to walk back to her seat she held aloft the lasted edition of the Laney Tower, with “Food Fight” on the front page. The next speaker also held up the “Food Fight” issue and seemed to lecture the trustees from its pages.

    In the April PFT newsletter, Jaramillo pointed out that although the district claimed poverty they managed to find money for expensive outside contractors and new administrative positions, such as:

    • $450,000 added in March to Ferrilli Information Group’s contract for overhauling and managing Peralta’s Information Technology systems
    • $200,000 (also awarded last month) to the Collaborative Brain Trust to develop educational master plans for our colleges
    • Creation of a new position at the District Office for Elñora Webb, former President of Laney College
    • Hiring a Special Assistant to the Chancellor (Chief of Staff) last fall
    • Two additional deans are currently being hired at the College of Alameda (Dean of Research and CTE Dean)

    Since then the Board of Trustees has approved the hiring of five more vice chancellors, for a total of eleven.

    About the Contributor
    In the fall of 2019, The Laney Tower rebranded as The Citizen and launched a new website. These stories were ported over from the old Laney Tower website, but byline metadata was lost in the port. However, many of these stories credit the authors in the text of the story. Some articles may also suffer from formatting issues. Future archival efforts may fix these issues.  
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