At a trustees meeting that took place Sept. 24, counselors Ray Wong and Steve Schommer voiced their call for equal treatment as the teaching faculty from the San Diego Community College District.
“We’re required master’s degrees,” Wong said. “The same set of requirements as the teaching faculty.” He also added that in the past, the counseling staff used to work 35 hours a week, then it went down to 33, but that it is necessary to reduce it to 30 hours.
“It’s not a money issue,” Wong explained. “It’s a good economic time and the budget is good. We want more resources.” A half-time counseling staff would cover the time counselors spend completing other tasks.
Additionally, Wong discussed how City College is the only school in the district to have counseling faculty working more hours than the teaching staff since other colleges have their faculties work 30 hours a week or less.
“We want the same treatment as other counselors at the region,” he said. According to Wong, the union has gone to the district, but the issue is not going anywhere because there has been no response to reduce weekly working hours.
Counselors have a lot of tasks to do, Wong explained. They teach personal growth classes, conduct walk-in counseling, create study plans for their classes, help students with their educational plans, provide information about transfer requirements and guide students to find what careers they want to pursue.
Steve Schommer also talked about this issue saying, “We want equity in the district.”
For Schommer, it is a straightforward issue that needs a response as to why the board is not accepting their request.
In addition to what Wong said, Schommer further explained how a counselor’s time is consumed by a lot of tasks to do with not enough time.
“Teachers spend half the time to teach and the other half to prepare,” he said.
According to him, counselors need that same time to organize their classes and student information because it is during their personal time when they research to stay updated on anything relevant to students at the college. He continued, “There’s not much time to prepare, we need to prepare and grade, as well.”
“We are all willing to pay,” Schommer stated about how the pay to replace hours would come out of the pocket of the teaching and counseling faculties. He also mentioned how hiring more counselors would be beneficial.
Schommer also said that they will continue discussing their request to reduce work hours at the meetings and how counselors will take turns to speak up about this issue with the district board of trustees.
Both Wong and Schommer have been counselors at City College for 16 years, and they expressed their gratitude for the support from their teaching peers. They also noted how imperative it is to pressure the board for an explanation as to why the district is not treating them with the same fairness as the teacher faculty.