Cutting insurance for part-time faculty could be disastrous
The Washington Senate proposal to take away state-funded health insurance from part-time community college faculty could be disastrous for higher education, particularly occupational education in science-technology (STEM) and health. [“Part-time school, college staff may lose state health benefits,” NW Thursday, June 13.]
The measure would cause critical reductions in the number of qualified faculty willing to work in departments such as chemistry, biology, engineering, math, physics and nursing. These and other departments have to compete not only with other colleges but in the general (higher-paying) labor market as well.
Part-time faculty provide half or more of the instruction at most community colleges. These colleges transfer thousands of students into four-year programs in STEM and health disciplines, and they provide professional technical degrees and certificates. They are a critical access point for high-tech workforce development.
Already, administrators in many science and technical programs have difficulties finding part-time employees. Pay is low and credentials are high. With worse benefits, the state is less able to attract talented teachers. We need to attract the best possible teachers for today’s technical, diverse and ever-communicative world, not repel them.
Contact your senators and ask them to remove this provision from the budget. Let’s strengthen community education this time around so high-tech industry can find workers from our region.
Gary Parks, Shoreline