Named “Don’t Break the Heartbeat of CCSF Valentine’s Day Action,” the effort united educators, students and allies to defend and support CCSF.
Anxious to resolve proposed layoffs of 50 faculty and an unknown number of part-time instructors at City College of San Francisco, members of the college teachers union American Federation of Teachers 2121 held a physically distant street theater action Monday, Feb. 14, at locations around the city.
Named “Don’t Break the Heartbeat of CCSF Valentine’s Day Action,” the effort brought together educators, students and allies to defend and support CCSF in the face of proposed cuts to course offerings as well as faculty and staff layoffs. The civil yet passionate demonstrations were recorded and posted on various social media platforms.
“Our actions involved faculty members delivering over 700 ‘No Layoff Cards’ signed by a strong majority of our faculty to the CCSF Board of Trustees,” AFT 2121 spokesperson Adele Failes-Carpenter said in a statement. “We performed a short skit demonstrating the role the CCSF Trustees could play in standing up for accessible higher education in San Francisco.”
Over the five-year period from 2014 to 2019, CCSF experienced steady enrollment. Yet as the AFT also pointed out. In Fall of 2019, the administration began cutting full classes, many with waitlists, immediately precipitating declines in the number of students. CCSF is rapidly losing its ability to provide necessary services and support the community's needs, the union stated.
Chancellor David Martin, who took on the role in November, cites many factors for his conservative approach to the budget.
In a Feb. 2 letter to the college community, Martin said the layoffs will enable the college to address audit findings from its external audit firm, release the college from its accrediting agency's enhanced fiscal monitoring watchlist, demonstrate a plan to achieve short-term and long-term financial solvency and devise an end of deficit spending that started in 2017.
“These actions are important steps in the process of identifying a sustainable path forward for the District, which is at a critical point where we are unable to draw upon reserves or deficit spend,” Martin said.
Faculty took a one-year concessionary agreement in 2021 to avoid the threatened layoff of 60% of faculty and to save 20,000 student seats in classes this year.
The Valentine’s Day action was an effort to stand up against the next round of threatened layoffs, which AFT said aims at programs like English as a Second Language, aircraft maintenance, construction, engineering, business, biology, computer networking, chemistry, English and library and counseling services.
Union leaders briefly met with Martin weeks earlier requesting that he not cut the college any further and instead work with them to seek more funding. Martin made no commitment but said “I absolutely want to support all of our labor partners — because you are an integral part of our campus community.”
When asked if the proposed layoffs were due to COVID-19, Failes-Carpenter said CCSF received federal relief money to help with the impacts of the pandemic.
“These layoffs follow a pattern that began pre-pandemic with cuts to classes and programs beginning in 2019," Failes-Carpenter said. "These have already led to cuts of up to 30% of courses and the loss of jobs for part-time faculty.”
According to analysis by AFT2121, the college has a budget surplus.
On Thursday, Feb. 17, the college will hold the first campus forum of the semester regarding the 2022-23 District budget and academic schedule.
Martin and Trustee Alan Wong did not respond to a request for comment by press time.
Disclosure: The publisher of The Ingleside Light is a part-time faculty member at CCSF, a member of AFT2121 and an alum of the college. This reporter is an alum of CCSF.
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