The History of FACCC: A Long, Hard Journey

FACCC’s Genesis

FACCC turned 60 in 2013. While the exact birthday is not known, it was reported in a 1980s Bulletin, the precursor to the FACCCTS journal, that somebody rose up during a debate at a meeting of the California Junior College Association (CJCA) in 1953 and said, “Enough with this!” Fed up with an administrator dominated CJCA, faculty decided to split off to form their own organization that would pursue the interests of faculty, exclusively.

The CJCA continued its operations and constituted what eventually became the Community College League of California. The new group called itself the California Junior College Faculty Council (CJCFC) and met for the first time at then Long Beach Junior College where it proclaimed its mission as creating a “direct, uninhibited, uncensored organization to advocate the specialized case of the junior college instructor.” Today, FACCC proudly describes itself as “the professional faculty membership organization that advocates solely for all community college faculty.”

Throughout its history, FACCC has occupied this pivotal position as an organization that advocates for the faculty profession in its entirety as it manifests in California Community Colleges. Among faculty groups, FACCC resides at a point that is at once, equidistant from both the Academic Senate and faculty collective bargaining units but at the same time, seamlessly interacts with each of them – a membership organization that shares a common base of support and interests. It is also uniquely situated as an independent faculty representative body free from any preordained role in its interaction, most often collaboratively, with other community college constituency groups that represent, among others, the system office, administrators, district trustees, and college staff. Looking back over the 60 years of its existence, we will review how FACCC has grown and matured, always conscious and protective of its unique role in representing the professional interests of community college faculty. FACCC was born at what could be seen as the beginning of the modern era for California Community Colleges.

1950s: Beginnings

The 1950s was a time of high aspiration among working Americans who envisioned a middle class life for themselves and an even more prosperous life for their children. These were proud people, many of whom had served in World War II. Many took advantage of the GI Bill to attend college, and some of these veterans came to what were then called the “junior colleges.” At this time, these were a haphazard collection of two-year institutions, most of which operated under high school districts (Fresno was the first, founded around 1910). Some, however, had been chartered under independent junior college districts (Modesto, Riverside, and Sacramento were the first of these) after the 1921 District Junior College Law sanctioned this option.

With growing enrollment and a student demand for more than what had been the traditional junior college curriculum of agricultural and industrial training, the fledgling CJCFC championed the cause of moving the junior college system toward an independent and more unified identity. From its inception in 1953, the organization’s goals included separation of the colleges from K-12, a designated teaching credential for college instructors, and a separate Education Code section for two-year colleges. In addition, the group considered matters that would eventually be subject to collective bargaining: teaching load standards and an adequate faculty salary schedule. When the group reorganized in 1958 as the California Junior College Faculty Association (CJCFA) with some 500 members, it added to its goals: an end to Average Daily Attendance (ADA) as an apportionment mechanism, inclusion of college faculty on accreditation visits, and a faculty voice in the development of the state’s master plan for education. At this time, the group also initiated its first statewide faculty newsletter, the Bulletin setting a precedent for quality communications with its membership that FACCC continues today.

It was under the seminal California Master Plan for Higher Education of 1960 that the junior colleges assumed their modern role. With both the University of California and the California State University systems able to manage enrollment through admission requirements, the junior colleges fulfilled the state’s promise to “provide an appropriate place in California public higher education for every student who is willing and able to benefit from attendance.” This clarified the role as going well beyond agricultural and industrial training. The modern era was now institutionalized and with it came the debate still raging today over the role of California’s junior – now “community” – colleges.

With the maturing status of the colleges came a collateral process for CJCFA in which the current position of FACCC among faculty organizations began to emerge. When the California Department of Education created a committee on November 12, 1960, to compose a new junior college credential, the faculty association was invited to send two teams of its members, one to represent the interests of faculty in a standard credential and another of a discipline-designated subject credential. On another issue, association meeting records note an exhilarating moment on April 22, 1961, when the group received a telegram that its sponsored bill, AB 2804, had been introduced in the Legislature. Approved by the governor on July 15, 1961, AB 2804 established the process through which colleges established under a K-12 school district were empowered to form their own independent community college district, setting the course for a new structure.

With this victory, CJCFA began to flex its political power, looking to the next step in solidifying the institutional structure of the fledgling junior/community college system. Arguing that the colleges were not adequately administered through the Department of Education, which had a junior college bureau, the association led the effort to create a state board of governors and system chancellor’s office. SB 669 was signed on August 30, 1967, amending the Education Code to establish a fully self-governed junior/community college system.

1960s: Turbulence

CJCFA had come of age in the turbulent 1960s, a decade dominated by a controversial war, civil rights victories, and student unrest, with the latter resulting in Ronald Reagan’s successful 1966 campaign for governor against two-term incumbent Edmund G. “Pat” Brown, the architect of the California dream that had been the driving force behind the state’s post-World War II success. Reagan ran on two main themes: “to send the welfare bums back to work” and “to clean up the mess at Berkeley,” where he apparently agreed with then State Superintendent of Public Instruction Max Rafferty who said the university offered a “four-year course in sex, drugs, and treason.” After taking office in 1967, Reagan moved quickly to remove Clark Kerr, the prime architect of the 1960 Master Plan for Higher Education, from his post as president of the University of California.

With higher education under close scrutiny and in recognition of the growing importance of its role in Sacramento, the CJCFA moved its headquarters there from Long Beach in 1969. It was at this point that the association changed its name to the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, appropriately identifying its role in the now independent system. With its 3,500 members, FACCC had attracted the attention of Superintendent Rafferty who accused it of being leftist.

Far from it, FACCC was about to enter a period of self-reflection as it struggled to remain a voice for all faculty and work with all state leaders regardless of their political or organizational affiliation. This remains FACCC’s goal today.

By the 1960s, most colleges had local groups of faculty addressing academic and professional matters, not all of which were fully constituted academic senates. FACCC was supportive of the need for official local academic senates and provided seed money in 1968 for a meeting in Oakland to discuss the creation of a statewide organization to represent local senates at the newly formed Board of Governors and Chancellor’s Office. A constitution for the Academic Senate of the California Community Colleges was subsequently approved by 45 of the 71 local academic senates in existence at the time, and the first meeting of the new statewide Academic Senate was held in April 1969. By October of that year, the Board of Governors officially recognized the Senate, authorizing it and its local organizations for support with public funds.

1970s: Progress

On the labor front, the 1970s was a decade of progress toward the acceptance of collective bargaining for faculty compensation and working conditions. Both FACCC and the Academic Senate went through a great deal of soul-searching with respect to their roles should collective bargaining be approved, and in 1973, FACCC formed a special committee to explore the issue. Affiliation was discussed, and the Board eventually recommended that FACCC affiliate with the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Despite leadership support, the proposal was defeated in a special statewide vote, 894 to 710.

The immediate result of the vote was disruptive. FACCC leaders resigned and the membership was divided and confused. After Governor Jerry Brown (son of former Governor “Pat” Brown) signed SB 160, the Rodda Act, in September 1975, authorizing the formation of collective bargaining units in K-12 and community colleges, FACCC again considered affiliation, this time with the California Federation of Teachers (CFT). With FACCC leadership divided on the question, members again turned down affiliation in a 1976 vote.

This was a difficult time for FACCC, but in the end, the association emerged stronger, with a firm commitment to remain an independent community college faculty professional organization. In this regard, FACCC’s primary role came to focus on statewide advocacy and education, bridging and complementing the roles of the Academic Senate and the collective bargaining units. And, as a statewide organization, its organizational structure reflected the need for centralization, relying on faculty councils for grassroots communication and activity. This stood in contrast to the unions and Academic Senate, both founded on strong local activity which then supported a statewide presence.

Passage of Proposition 13 in 1978 confirmed the wisdom of defining FACCC’s role in terms of state advocacy and education. Reducing property tax revenues by 60 percent, Proposition 13 made it impossible to continue funding institutions locally, and financial control shifted to the state. Because its focus was on advocacy in Sacramento, and because it represented community college faculty exclusively, FACCC’s identity was confirmed, and it became the primary negotiator for faculty interests in the Capitol.

Obviously, Proposition 13 dealt a major blow to the community colleges. After a decade of declining enrollments as the baby boom generation graduated, Proposition 13 made permanent what was already evident as a temporary reality: reduced public investment. From this point on, it was clear that faculty would have to advocate continuously and more strenuously, and FACCC would play a central role in ensuring that the faculty voice was heard in Sacramento. The colleges were in disarray as they adjusted to the post-Prop 13 funding environment and were still shackled to a K-12 ADA-based funding formula.

1980s: Reform

An economic recession in 1982 brought cuts to the colleges and the first ever per unit fee to students at $5 with a $50 cap. As a result of class cuts and imposition of fees, community college enrollment dropped from 1.42 million in 1981 to 1.17 million in 1984. FACCC was instrumental in establishing the Board of Governors fee waiver program that continues to protect the most needy students from these per unit fees. To note one bright spot during these difficult times, FACCC spearheaded the effort to have two seats on the Board of Governors designated for community college faculty. Since SB 1204 was signed in the fall of 1983, the Academic Senate has been empowered to submit a list of faculty candidates for the governor’s consideration for appointment to the Community College Board of Governors.

Concern about the condition of the community colleges led the Legislature to form a citizen Commission to Review the Master Plan for Higher Education.

FACCC placed representatives on two of the commission task forces, one on personnel and the other on finance. These and several other task forces sent recommendations to a Joint Legislative Committee chaired by then Assemblymember John Vasconcellos with the result ending in the FACCC-co-sponsored omnibus reform bill, AB 1725, which was signed into law in September 1988. All of the faculty organizations played a role in this landmark success. The bill delineated the functions of the state and local boards, fully establishing a California Community College system. It promoted student access and success, replaced the faculty credential with the masters degree as the minimum, institutionalized the concept of shared governance and identified issues on which the Academic Senate was given “primary reliance,” established a program-based funding model, and allocated both professional development funds and program improvement funding that brought 1,400 new full-time community college faculty positions as a first installment toward reaching the goal of having 75 percent of community college instruction delivered in classrooms staffed by full-time faculty.

1990s: Advocacy

While most of the structural reform remains to this day, the economic downturn of the early 1990s put a premature end to program improvement funding, halting progress toward this 75 percent goal. From the early 1990s until the devastating economic collapse of 2009, the community colleges have endured a repetitive seesaw cycle of funding challenges. Unfortunately, the upside of this ride has never seen funding improve substantially while the downside has often been devastating. The year following Governor Davis’ reelection, 2002-03, was especially difficult when the state imposed mid-year cuts. That experience saw FACCC give over its traditional March lobby day to a coalition effort to stage a mass demonstration to protest these cuts to higher education. This first “March in March” that brought over 10,000 to the steps of the Capitol has been repeated every year as the state’s economy never quite recovered and eventually collapsed, along with the rest of the world, in 2007.

2000s: Economic Collapse

While beneficial in good times, during years like these when the state economy faltered, being shackled to K-12 for state funding under Proposition 98 left the community colleges in a disadvantaged position. Prop 98, passed the same year as AB 1725, was meant to provide a minimum state funding level for K-14 education, but in bad times, the Legislature repeatedly chose to shift money from the community college side of the ledger to protect K-12 funding. Over the nearly 20 years between passage of AB 1725 and Prop 98 and the economic collapse of 2007, FACCC was the voice in Sacramento that never stopped demanding that the colleges receive their statutory 10.93 percent share of Prop 98 funding.

The situation has changed since 2009, when the entire state went into defensive mode. The community colleges have taken their share of budget cuts along with the rest of higher education, K-12, and all of the state’s public services. In its role as the Sacramento voice for the profession, FACCC has been front and center in defense of faculty interests as the system has endured budget cuts resulting in compounded workload reductions translating into a system wide loss of some 500,000 students.

2010s: New Challenges

Over recent years, FACCC has been engaged in defending faculty interests with respect to accreditation, pension “reform,” outcomes-based funding, proposals for a two-tier fee structure that would open additional classes for students who can afford to pay more, and student success. With regard to the Chancellor’s Office student success initiative under SB 1456 [(Lowenthal) of 2012], FACCC took the lead in offering a legislative compliment in the form of AB 1741 [(Fong) of 2012]. While the bill was eventually pulled, it successfully forced amendments to SB 1456 that blunted some of the initiative’s negative effects on both faculty and students by insisting that the reform be backed up by a support infrastructure. Most recently, FACCC has been working with the Academic Senate to turn back an assault on shared governance coming from California Competes, a rogue “reform” group suffering from a serious lack of understanding about democratic decision-making under AB 1725. (See the related article in this FACCCTS journal.)

With the last few years dominated by extreme economic challenges, FACCC joined in the effort led by faculty unions to pass Proposition 30 in November 2012, ensuring additional revenue for education. With this success, the community colleges now see some light at the end of the recessionary tunnel.

Over the years since all of the faculty groups worked together with Assemblymember Vasconcellos to craft and pass AB 1725, there is a long list of issues on which FACCC and the collective bargaining units have collaborated. Fueled by the booming technology industry, pension reform in the late 1990s and early 2000s brought CalSTRS within sight of CalPERS benefit levels. This period also saw significant gains in part-time faculty professionalization with advances in compensation parity, availability of paid office hours, access to health benefits, and improvements in CalSTRS benefits. Some of the key components of these reforms were contained in AB 420 [(Wildman) of 1999]. Its success is indicative of the work accomplished collaboratively with the help of all the faculty advocates.

An even broader coalition formed around the effort to improve Proposition 98 funding for community colleges with a ballot initiative, Proposition 92. FACCC joined forces with the Los Angeles Faculty Guild (AFT 1521) and the Community College League of California (the group that formed from what was left after faculty split from the California Junior College Association back in 1953) to kick off this effort. The California Federation of Teachers joined the coalition after the initiative was written and was instrumental in the campaign. While Prop 92 eventually fell short at the ballot box in February 2008, the initiative certainly won Sacramento’s respect. While the impending economic collapse doomed Prop 92 at the polls, the legacy of the campaign eventually shielded the community colleges from the first wave of the recession that crashed upon the world economy in 2007.

Strength Despite Adversity

Its history shows how adversity strengthened FACCC. Positioned at the center of the faculty organizations, sharing common interests with both the Academic Senate and the collective bargaining units, FACCC is a natural collaborator, facilitating the advancement of faculty interests through advocacy in Sacramento. While its role has been clear and essential over the 20 years since AB 1725 broke the community colleges free from their traditional ties to K-12 and ushered them onto the stage of higher education, the association may have been less certain with regard to its own institutional structure. This has been addressed, however, over these same 20 years.

Beginning in the mid-1990s, FACCC began to reconstitute itself by institutionalizing its two-fold mission of advocacy and education with the development of two separate legal entities: FACCC and the FACCC Education Institute (EI). To date, four district unions – Santa Monica, Foothill-De Anza, Santa Barbara, and Santa Rosa – have entered into contracts with FACCC-EI to support the institute’s research, communications, and professional development activities. All faculty members at these campuses have been grated full membership status in FACCC, which continues to house the association’s advocacy activities. In the late 1990s, this reconstitution was fully implemented with a new set of bylaws that replaced the rickety campus council system. Under the new structure, the Board benefits from a wide range of committees composed of grassroots member volunteers that provide an advisory base informing actions taken by the Board of Governors of FACCC and the Board of Directors of the FACCC-EI.

In effect, the leadership base of FACCC has been dramatically expanded, and there is now a clear path from the member foundation of the organization up through committees to leadership on the two governing boards and continuing to the association’s officer positions. Staffing, too, has been solidified with legislative advocacy, professional development, communications, and membership outreach, each operating under strong executive director oversight. All of this was accomplished by the early 2000s. Simultaneously, FACCC moved from rented facilities on J Street to its own building on 11th Street near the Chancellor’s Office – which it now owns outright, concluding its final mortgage payment five years ahead of schedule

With all of these improvements, FACCC is well positioned to continue its essential work on behalf of faculty. The road ahead is no less perilous than the first 60 years, but it is clear that the organization is well prepared to meet the challenges that await the association and the community college faculty FACCC is dedicated to serve.