Published in the November 1, 2016 Santa Maria Times.

Despite the sound and fury of the current presidential election, voters should still pay attention to local races. One of those is for the Board of Trustees at Allan Hancock Community College.

Two seats are up for re-election: District 2 and District 4. I am supporting Dan Hilker for District 2, and Jeffery Hall for District 4.

I am supporting these candidates because I believe teachers matter, because students matter. Teachers and students are the heart and soul of a school.

Hancock College is a wonderful place to go to school because of the teachers. The majority of instructors are employed part-time. In addition to their work in the classroom they are required to prepare for their classes and to evaluate students. Neither of these activities are financially compensated. Teachers are expected to work for free.

Students have a need and a right to expect their teachers to present a well-prepared lesson and to have their course work evaluated. The grade students receive at the end of the semester will go on their record and influence their academic career. Part-time teachers have a right to be paid for classroom preparation and student evaluation.

The Board of Trustees of Hancock College has consistently refused to compensate part-time faculty for hours required for prep and evaluation.

In a recent letter to the editor the current trustees of Districts 2 and 4 boasted of their past work as trustees. They wrote that during the Great Recession the college had no layoffs. Did they really not know that many of the part-time faculty lost some or all of their assignments?

Some people teach part-time as a supplement to their incomes. However, many rely on their positions to pay for food and rent. When classes are cut, teachers and students suffer. When students can’t get classes it takes them longer to graduate. Some students drop out.

The Board of Trustees has produced a brochure describing the college and touting its many attributes. In very fine print at the bottom of one page it mentions the full-time faculty. There is nothing about the more than 450 part-time teachers and counselors whose work helps sustain the real purpose of a school — learning.

There are many ways that a school can show that it appreciates its teaching staff but rendering them invisible isn’t one of them. However, following a signed contract is. In a recent legal paper, the Board of Trustees took a position that placed the signed contract in jeopardy. If you are a teacher, nurse, police officer or fire fighter you know the importance of contract integrity. Both employers and employees depend on the contract. When one side threatens to ignore certain articles, it threatens the fundamental relationship.

I believe the current Board of Trustees desperately needs a new attitude toward part-time teachers and counselors. Dan Hilker in District 2 and Jeffery Hall in District 4 are people who are not afraid to ask hard questions and look for new answers. If you think that both students and teachers matter, please support their election to the Board of Trustees.

Susan Case, Vice President, Part-Time Faculty Association of Allan Hancock College, CFT Local 6185, Santa Maria, CA