Part Time ESL Instructors Fight for Equal Treatment

By Margaret Weir

Kate Frei and Barbara Knox were among over 80 teachers and students chanting in both English and Chinese at City College’s Chinatown campus on Wednesday, April 27.

Frei and Knox are English as a Second Language (ESL) teachers at Chinatown campus. Despite the pouring rain, spirits remained high with songs led by Frei and other members of American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 2121.

Frei, who is currently running for executive board of the AFT, feels like the administration is making decisions that are negatively affecting City College students and enrollment. Chinatown campus has many ESL and computer science classes, which have been affected greatly by the cuts.

Knox has been with the school since fall 2012. Knox said she was protesting because, “Oakland Unified [School District] gutted ESL, I’m just here to make sure the same doesn’t happen at CCSF.”

Frei is also concerned by the amount of money City College has in reserves, in light of the misuse of funds by administration for lavish business trips. City College has 18.5 percent of its funds in reserves, even though the recommended amount is five to six percent according to a fiscal review released this April 4 by the Fiscal Crisis & Management Assistance Team.

Many staff, including Knox and Frei, have voiced their opinions about the college’s treatment of part-time staff.

“Susan Lamb has stated that part timers make a lot of money, when we make 86 percent of what full timers makes for the same hours,” Knox said.

Knox said about 200-300 part timers apply for full time because full-time jobs provide more security.

“I applied for full time but there’s few positions available,” Knox said.

Frei said that part-time teachers can have two or three jobs just to make ends meet, and she believes the media attention surrounding City College’s low faculty wages is driving away new, potential teachers.

Knox can’t afford to live in San Francisco, so she lives in East Oakland. To get to work, she takes a ferry, rides her bike and takes BART. Knox used to work at Alameda School District to manage living costs.

“We’re teachers,” Frei said. “Teachers generally don’t do it for the money.”


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