OLYMPIA (March 30, 2021) — SB 5194, the “Our Colleges, Our Future” Act which is a major legislative priority for AFT Washington, working in coalition with the Communities For Our Colleges coalition, will have a public hearing on Wednesday, March 31 at 1:30 p.m. in the House Appropriations Committee. This bill, which already passed the Senate by a 30-19 vote, would provide a holistic approach to racial equity and economic justice within our state’s community and technical colleges (CTCs) by having each college adopt a diversity and inclusion strategic plan that includes a faculty diversity program.
TAKE A STAND — Please support this legislation and sign in as a supporter before the committee hearing. Make sure you choose your position as “PRO” and you will go on record as urging State Representatives to vote “yes.”
Washington’s CTCs are the key to supporting an increasingly skills-demanding workforce and for addressing the economic gap for low-income and Black, Indigenous and people of color (BIPOC) communities. CTCs can and should play a key role in a just recovery from COVID, but CTCs have already suffered major budget cuts in response to COVID impacts.
The Great Recession shows the power of the economic engine of the CTCs, as workers return to work; not investing in them now will cause setbacks in recovery. Faculty and student-facing staff have been laid off across the state; while they are dedicated to developing the workforce, they are a workforce that has seen minimal investment over the last several decades.
SB 5194 calls for the state to invest in 200 new full-time tenure track faculty positions in the next biennium, which will enable colleges to better recruit and retain a diverse faculty. This critical investment into converting part-time to full-time faculty positions will directly support historically under-served students to complete their programs. Communities For Our Colleges, an organization of students, faculty, staff, alumni and organizations like AFT Washington, identified these needs as critical for the CTC system to succeed in educating Washington’s future workforce.
“Students learn best from faculty that look like them, and currently our faculty is around 80 percent white people, whereas the student body is nearly 50 percent people of color,” said AFT Washington President Karen Strickland. “We want to develop the next generation of faculty, especially BIPOC faculty. We can’t do that if we are engaged in a race to the bottom and relying more and more on gig workers in colleges.”