Monday, November 30, 2009

Does Madison College Really Change Anything?

The following text was taken directly from an email from Diane Walleser to MATC staff.
I wanted to update you on the work that is being done with the implementation of the new college logo. As you can imagine, it is a significant project with many components. I will lead the conversion project but will be working very closely with Tech Services, Divisional Business Analysts and all other college work units so we can have a successful implementation. We are still assessing scope and will not have our formal timeline completed until after the first of the year. We know you have many questions, so here is what we can share at this point:
1. Yes, it is okay to start using the logo. Logo style and usage guides are being developed and will be posted to the web for downloading and use by January 1st. If you have an immediate need please let me know and we can get an art ready logo to you.
2. We have a tentative goal of introducing the logo on level one and level two of the converted to new logo by January 1st. The deeper levels of the web will be changed out by the content managers when time and resources permit. Our goal would be to have MATC references removed from the Web site by the start of the Fall semester.
3. Tech Services is working on a plan for the conversion to In the interim please list as the college web address in any printed or web materials. This address will always redirect to our homepage and will be our transition address until our new address is ready for use.
4. We are currently working on a transition plan for employee and student emails. This is a critical part of the conversion and Tech Services is researching available alternatives. Since our email address will be changing sometime in the next six months you will want to limit your supplies of any new materials that list email addresses. As we work out the details we can be more specific on timing of the change so you can plan appropriately.
5. New letterhead, envelopes will be available after the first of the year and letterhead templates will be available on line. We will order business cards for Lead ship Council once we have our new email address confirmed.
6. We will be meeting with all work units on the transition. We will train you on the use of the new logo and help you develop a workable transition plan for your area. We will try and make the conversion as easy as possible and will share the unit conversion schedule once it is completed.
7. We are currently developing a FAQ for the website and a fact sheet for you to share with internal and external stakeholders. This fact sheet can be shared with community members, advisory groups and other groups and will help explain the process and rationale.
We will keep you posted on our progress. In the meantime, let me know if you have any questions or concerns. Please share this information with your staff. Thanks! Diane
It seems like the MATC Administration is spending a lot of resources on what amounts to a nickname change.  The obvious question here is why?  Couldn't those resources be better spent on programs that will help students?  We should all take the time to contact the administration to let them know our frustration over the time and money spent on this frivolous change.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Today's Clarion Article Misrepresents Key Data

An article that appeared in today's MATC Clarion mostly gets it right with a couple of exceptions.  Apparently the administration supplied data that misrepresents key points of contention in the P/t Union contract negotiation.
*1.) Gwen Torkelson is quoted as saying that 77% of the part-time faculty have a seniority level of three years or more. This is categorically untrue. [We] have the raw employee data from the past school year that lists the seniority level of each teacher who was assigned a course. This data was provided to us by the college's payroll department. The breakout is as follows:

0 to 6 semesters seniority- about 63%

7 to 13 semesters seniority- about 15%

14 to 20 semesters seniority- about 7 %

21 + semesters of seniority- about 15%

One of our main messages all along has been that we want to improve part-time instructor retention.  This would save in both training & recruiting costs and provide a better education from more experienced teachers.
*2.) [The Clarion] was provided with "data" that was incorporated into your chart on page 4, and it was presented in such a way as to make the result grossly misleading. The averaging salary for a newly hired full time instructor between 2006 and 2009 was $70,070, plus benefits worth $37,357 per year. That instructor, if teaching a full load will spend 500 hours in the classroom. The part time hourly figures you were given apply only to classroom hours. We are not paid for any work outside the classroom, even though it is expected and necessary (preparing for lecture, grading, etc.). The full time compensation model assumes that over an hour is spent outside the classroom for every hour spent inside the classroom. Only 15 hours of their work week, maximum, is actually spent in the classroom.

In addition, bear in mind that the starting salary average has been increasing , even the $70,070 figure is significantly lower than the average 2009 starting salary.

If you take that $70,070 and divide it by the number of hours the full time teacher spends actually physically present in the classroom, the hourly rate is $140.14/hr. With benefits, it is $214.85/hr. If part time faculty members were paid for time spent outside the classroom, then your comparison might be valid. Perhaps another way to look at it, if you want to use your numbers, is that full time faculty are paid for 2-3 hours of work for every hour spent in class, while part time faculty are only paid 1 hour for every hour spent in class.
We spend just as much time preparing outside of class as full time instructors, so why aren't we compensated as such?
*Note:  Retort data complied by P/t Union President Mike Kent.

New Radio Spot

We have a new radio ad that will be playing through the Thanksgiving weekend on WMGN (98.1), WIBA (1310), WOLX (94.9), and WTDY (1670). The spots will run during morning and afternoon drive times, so listen in to hear about what the MATC Part-time Teachers' Union is thankful for.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Looking for a Few Good Tweeters

Any union members who are interested in joining the @MATCPTUnion tweet group can leave a comment below and an administrator will contact you with information.
We want to make this a group effort - so the more, the merrier.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Retention Issues are a Problem at all Levels

NPR's Morning Edition ran this story today regarding new recruits for Teach for America. This program brings recent college graduates to the K-12 classrooms that need them most.
One of the interviewees mentioned that one of the most difficult issues for the program is fear of teacher retention. The monetary cost of training coupled with the time needed to properly train on the job should be familiar issues for the MATC administration. Apparently they don't mind, though, because part-time instructor turnover continues to hover around the 40% mark - an unacceptable level if we are keeping the best interest of our students and community in mind.
That begs the question: Is the MATC administration really doing what is best for the community?

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Now On Twitter

That's right, folks - the MATC Part-time Teachers' Union is now on Twitter. Find and follow us @MATCPTUnion.
This will be a collaborative effort with many contributors from various union committees. We had hoped to add another dimension to our public face and social networking was the obvious next step. Please leave any feedback on the Twitter functionality either here or as retweets so that we can work out any bugs.
Thanks in advance.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

On Methodology

The best teacher is the one who suggests rather than dogmatizes, and inspires his listener with the wish to teach himself. - Edward Bulwer-Lytton

Deep Thoughts

It is the time of year were we, as a nation, reflect on the past months and consider their significance. In November, this means Thanksgiving and well-deserved time with friends and family. The MATC P/t Union would like to share a few things that we are thankful for:
  • Students who continue to teach us as we impart our skills to them.
  • Colleagues who support, inform, and challenge us.
  • A community that values our efforts to make a positive impact on the local economy.
  • The P/t Union bargaining team & committees who have worked so hard this year to bring equity and fairness to part-time instructors.

The holiday season can be a busy time, but we still have to keep up the good fight. Don't forget to contact the MATC Board to voice your concern over part-time faculty inequality.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Madison Area Technical College embarks on series of changes, not all of them popular

That is the headline from this Wisconsin State Journal Online article. It looks like the community at large has a lot to say to the MATC Board of Directors.

But inevitably, the public has pushed back against some of decisions leaders are making at MATC, now known as Madison College.

As the college struggles to manage an 11 percent increase in enrollment this fall, it has had to make some tough cuts.

That includes quietly eliminating some adult continuing education courses, which are non-credit, skills based courses. Sometimes considered hobby courses, administrators say they need to make room for programs that will help people get jobs.

The P/t Union also had a voice at the November Board Meeting.

If administrators hope to convince the public to fund a major facilities expansion, they need to make sure not to alienate the people they count on for support, said Mike Kent, president of MATC's part-time teachers' union.

For instance, many of the people who take the continuing education courses are seniors - the same people who pay attention to community issues and vote in local elections.

"The college needs to be sensitive to the needs of all the different stakeholders in the community," Kent said. "The folks taking these courses are definitely a group the college needs to be sensitive to. People who are paying property taxes. People who are going to be voting in every election."

The college is also butting heads with Kent's group, which argues that the pay gap between part-time and full-time teachers is too large.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Make Sure the Board of Directors Hears Our Voice

Remember there is a board meeting on December 9 @ 5:30pm (Truax Board Room in the Administration Building). If you can make it to support the P/t Union efforts, please do. A showing of solidarity in this setting can make quite an impact.
Otherwise, continue to inundate the administration with email:

Or snail mail:
MATC Board of Directors c/o
Ellen Hustad
Truax Campus
Madison Area Technical College
3550 Anderson Street
Madison, WI 53704

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

AFT Faculty and College Excellence

AFT's Faculty and College Excellence (FACE) initiative is a national campaign to reverse the crisis in instructional staffing at our nation's colleges and universities. Through organizing, legislative advocacy and collective bargaining, FACE is designed to achieve two goals simultaneously:

Achieving full equity in compensation for contingent faculty members; and
Ensuring that 75 percent of undergraduate classes are taught by full-time tenure and tenure track faculty and that qualified contingent faculty have the opportunity to move into such positions as they become available.

The campaign goals are designed to be phased in over time to ensure that there is no job loss for contingent faculty currently working at a college or university. For more information about the FACE campaign, read our Call to Action.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Halloween Radio Spot

Part-time Math

This radio ad aired in the weeks before halloween - better late than never online, right?

Thursday, November 5, 2009

On Expertise

An expert is a man who has made all of the mistakes which can be made, in a narrow field. - Niels Bohr

Teaching Future Colleagues

Many part-time instructors have full time jobs outside of MATC. Be they in manufacturing, government, health care, or the service industry, these instructors are experts in their chosen fields. They bring with them a skill set that is a reflection of the current state of the work environment. This alone is of great benefit to students and the general mission of MATC.
But, part-time instructors also have the foresight to realize that they are teaching their future colleagues. They have a vested interest in ensuring quality education and training because they may well depend on their students in some capacity in the professional world. Is this purely due to self interest? Of course not. What is good for the students is good for the long-term stability of their industry and the community.
A strong, well trained work force is a hallmark of the new economy - for jobs that cannot be outsourced, jobs that bolster local markets. Part-time instructors know what they are imparting to the next generation of laborers, entrepreneurs, and thinkers will have a lasting effect. So, help us help you.
Support MATC P/t Union!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fearless Leader Mike Kent's Op-ed

Part-time Teachers' Union President Mike Kent's op-ed piece appeared in The Capital Times today. Holding his own question and answer session, he laid out the repurcussions of MATC continuing with the status quo in regard to p/t compensation.

"If part-time faculty are really being exploited, they should quit," you might say. They do. Over 30 percent of the 1,200 part-time faculty leave the school every year. More than 60 percent of the part-time faculty have less than three years of seniority with the school. Good, extremely well-qualified teachers leave the school every semester.

"Well, even if they are quitting, they are easily replaceable in this area." Not really. The dystopian ethic of treating skilled, conscientious professionals as human commodities notwithstanding, it takes more than an advanced degree to teach academic classes in the technical colleges. Instructors must obtain Wisconsin Technical College System certification, which requires the completion of more than 300 uncompensated hours of coursework, and the fulfillment of certain industry
experience and expertise requirements.

The big picture here is that taking car of teachers is best for students and best for our region.

The status quo must change. A 40 percent graduation rate is not healthy for the region. A 30 percent annual turnover rate for part-time faculty is toxic to the quality of education. MATC's administration needs to spend less time and energy on changing the name of the college or planning building acquisitions and more time dealing with the real crisis affecting the institution right now. You can't build on a rotting foundation, and the deliberate disregard of these issues is like fiddling while Rome burns.
Well said, Mike.

President Obama in Madison Today

And some are curious if he will have anything to say about community colleges in his Education Address.

Obama's American Graduation Initiative is aimed at helping people like Gary Ramthun go back to school.
After 35 years of working in manufacturing, Ramthun lost his job last December.
"I looked for work and decided I would try my luck at going back to school and starting my own business," said Ramthun.
Now he is a full-time student at Madison College, trying to get certified to
perform home inspections.
"My biggest reason for coming back was the opportunity to get the education to be able to move back into the workforce without taking four years out of my life," said Ramthun. "And at my age, four more years is going to make it that much harder to get a job."
The American Graduation Initiative would give $12 billion in federal funds to community colleges across the country. Madison College officials say a grant like this
would be the first of its kind.

Gary is exactly the type of student that part-time instructors are instrumental in helping. He is most likely taught by several p/t faculty currently in the field. He is gaining critical knowledge and perspective on an industry (home inspection~real estate) that has been in the midst of a difficult recession and dramatic policy changes. Part-time instructors see these changes real-time.
Help us help students like Gary. It's good for students and good for the Madison area economy.

*also, note the comments in the link above*