Saturday, October 29, 2005



Most of you have heard about this interview, the one in which Trustee Fuentes identifies the unions as a prime source of trouble in education and declares that instructors make on average $100k per year and enjoy a 36-hour work week. Well, I present to you an accurate transcription of that interview, or at least the portion relevant to faculty at SOCCCD. Make of it what you will. --CW

(A portion of the interview only.)

FUENTES: …I am always evermore enthused by the progress of stability that has come to the district…I marvel at what progress in terms of stability has been achieved in recent years. We’re building new facilities…we’re spending the dollars of the district in service to the students by concrete innovation and renovation as is needed for those campuses to be the welcoming places of study for our students.

I can’t give enough recognition to the current leadership of the district. I’m not speaking of myself. I’m speaking of Dr. Raghu Mathur, our Chancellor, who has brought to this district a stability, a professionalism, that is profound. The way that he and his team comes to our board so well prepared, having done the research, having done the planning, having done the preparation for us to be able to continue to move forward.

We’ve had the good fortune in recent years as well to have our trustee colleague Don Wagner at the helm as president. Don, of course, is an attorney locally, a very keen thinker. He’s been a leader of the Federalist Society here in Orange County, which is of course without question one of the most important and significant intellectually recognized voices in the Bush administration currently, and Don serves as a colleague trustee, and he has, along with Raghu and the fine team—especially these…two relatively new and, in the case of Glenn Roquemore, President of Irvine Valley College, and Rich McCullough, our new President at Saddleback College—brought a team together that just has always on their mind, “What serves the students?” “What should be the expenditure of dollars?” We have a budget of $150 million dollars a year. That’s a lot of money to be responsible for, and if it’s not guided by some principled philosophical commitment to serving the students and to being concerned about the taxpayers, it can be wasted.

There are many special interests in the education industry today, and especially the unions. The unions have a very aggressive attitude about getting at the treasury of the school districts, and, uh, community college teachers today, full-time ones as they call it—they call a full-time week a 36-hour work week: 15 hours in the classroom, 15 hours of prep time, 6 hours of office time…


FUENTES: 36 hours, with a two and a half month a year vacation…


FUENTES: One of those [full-time instructors] averages a hundred thousand dollars a year in salary. So it’s a very, very expensive payroll that a community college district has…

INTERVIEWER: But the offset of that is, you have a lot of faculty there who I jokingly refer to—and they don’t like it—as the “freeway flyers”—they may teach one class at Saddleback…


INTERVIEWER: they may teach two classes at Orange Coast; they may go up to Fullerton College one day a week. So those folks—

FUENTES: —those folks

INTERVIEWER: —aren’t making the hundred thousand dollar salary!

FUENTES: They are not, and of course that is one of the issues of concern, because you have about three hundred teachers in a union who garner a very high pay, and then you’ve got freeway fliers, and I have enormous empathy for them because they’re teaching a class or two at Orange Coast, at Fullerton, etc., and not gaining the reward for it because they’re not full-time teachers anywhere.

INTERVIEWER: Some of them have moved into that realm, but some continue to do that until they retire unfortunately…

FUENTES: That’s right.

INTERVIEWER: And you have a mix—I think there’s a formula that the state has imposed on us on that, but you try to hold that balance. You also need of course the stability of those people who are there that 36-hour week to keep the Anthropology department running, to keep the math science department running, because they have to do the structure,

FUENTES: —all part of the balance…

INTERVIEWER: —the department, so that’s obviously one of the challenges that you face as a board member, balancing all of these issues. Another fact that’s always impressed me about the community colleges is an ability to be flexible….

[The interview shifts to a discussion of the “flexibility” of the community colleges and how that flexibility is threatened by a movement in Sacramento to eliminate local control of the colleges. The discussion eventually shifts to a discussion of the Trustees race that was then playing out.]

FUENTES: …there are four seats on the board up this time in the November election. Two of my colleagues have challengers and two do not. And it is unique in that the district is geographically half of Orange County, with perhaps a million residents, and when one has to campaign, it is a very, very costly exercise. And of course in the politics of schools these days, the unions are taking so much more an active role.


FUENTES: It was predicted that our own local union here was gearing up in the three hundred thousand dollar range to be able to influence this election. That’s a lot of money, which means that independent or conservative-minded, non-union advocate candidates would have to compete with that, and I think it’s a very dangerous situation that we’re moving in—in all cities and counties and school districts where the labor unions of government employees, be they teachers or be they county workers, have all the more influence through the exercise of dollars from the unions. I think all of us were appalled at the spiking of the county payroll retirement by the board of supervisors recently. I mean we lurch back and say, “How can this happen in Orange County California?” —that you can have such aggressive spiking of retirements and costly imposition on the taxpayers of our community. —Well, it’s the influence of unions in government today, and we need to be very vigilant about that.

[Essentially, the interview ends here.]




After I posted the above, I remembered that, when Trustee Fuentes was challenged regarding his "faculty salary" statement, he defended it by saying that the $100K figure includes "benefits," which, as I recall, he valued at $30,000 (or was it $20,000?).

Oh. So that's what you were saying.

I've been working for this district as a full-timer for nearly twenty years, and I make less than 70k. Of course, it's nearly 100k if you add the 30k.

Also, at at least one board meeting, several faculty members showed up to rebut Fuentes' assertion that full-time faculty enjoy a "36-hour work week." Some even presented the fellow with large stacks of grading, explaining how long it takes to work through such stuff!

As I recall, Fuentes' response was to smile a seemingly "knowing" smile. -CW


Gary Freedman said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Chunk Wheeler said...

Dissent readers: I deleted the last comment, not because the person was critical of Dissent--he wasn't--but because he appeared to be mentally ill. A sad case. Next time, I'll probably just leave it be.

Anonymous said...

The union was going to spend $300,000? Where did they get that kind of money?

Rita said...

Oh, Chunk, what can one say??? That idiot-bastard: anyone in higher education at any kind of institution knows that the workload of an average faculty member is around 60 hours a week. Our pay doesn't reflect that, needless to say. I teach at an "elite" (not my term) private institution in So Cal, and I, too, have put in such hours for 17 years; I am in your range of the under-70k salary.

I'm spinning in anger. The "NOIVE" of the man! I hate 'im.

Anonymous said...

Aha! A Three Stooges fan! I ran into an old friend today who explained that she once had a conversation with Fuentes over the phone. She said he was very rude. Very very rude. Why am I not surprised. Nyuck Nyuck Nyuck!

PE man said...

Do you mean the goal:

"prepare for board meetings in advance"?

Yeah, that's pretty illiterate all right. When else are you gonna prepare? AFTER?

Chunk Wheeler said...

I just noticed that I had the wrong year for this interview. It was in 2004, not 1994.

Reminds me of the time that someone explained their unfortunate remark as a "typo." They said something like, "You are a rat-bastard." That was the result of a "typo." They meant to say: "I'll have soup." That's some typo.

So thinking "a year ago" and writing "eleven years ago" was a mere error on my part. But who can account for it? Pretty soon, I'll be typin' "refrigerator" when I mean "my left foot."


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