Letters 7.8.21

0
Shutterstock

Happy Juneteenth, Chancellor

In a June 18 email to employees of the Colorado Community College System (CCCS), Chancellor Joe Garcia said about the recently adopted Juneteenth holiday, “Please join me in spending part of your day… considering what you can do to help address making our world a more just and equitable place for everyone.”

These are fine words. And indeed, I share Garcia’s professed goal, and am glad that he says that equity is important to him. However, equity can’t only apply to some, or it isn’t equity at all.

According to the latest analysis from the American Association of University Professors (AAUP),  CCCS instructors, who teach roughly two-thirds of classes system-wide, are paid “roughly $2,500 per class, or around $20,000 annually.”  This is in contrast to the much better paid full-time faculty who, collectively, teach far fewer classes than this army of ill-paid instructors. Note that, according to MIT’s Living Wage Calculator, a living wage in Denver would be $17.40 hourly, or $36,192 annually if multiplied by 40 hours per week.  In other words, the CCCS pays poverty wages to the majority of instructors, creating a situation where instructors over-commit to classes and side jobs in order to try merely to survive.  This leads to stress, exhaustion and burnout for instructors, and leads to poor learning outcomes for some of the most at-risk students in the state — as the CCCS well knows.

On Feb. 25, 2020, Garcia met with a group of CCCS instructors and faculty, along with state leaders from the AAUP.  When asked about the prospects for a modest, insufficient raise, Garcia bluntly retorted, “A living wage is a number we can’t get to.”

Meanwhile, according to the AAUP, top CCCS administrators collectively earn over $8 million. Garcia himself earns $437,650. 

Happy Juneteenth, Chancellor.

Mark DuCharme/Boulder

Gun Violence

A policeman, a madman, a Libertarian and another policeman cross paths in the Arvada Old Town Center; the result, three more deaths from America’s embrace of gun violence. Solving the problems of racial injustice, healthcare, homelessness, climate change and an obscene distribution of wealth will require a systemic cultural shift impossible in a bipolar nation ruled by shortsightedness. Self-sufficiency and individual enterprise are fine values, but when independence and freedom fail to recognize that the responsibilities of mankind, in the long run, rest on cooperative effort and cohesion, we land in a world divided against itself and armed to the teeth.    

Robert Porath/Boulder 

NUCLEAR THREATS

I don’t know if nuclear first strike capability is possible. We need to determine if an arms race with Russia could lead to our annihilation; and if so, we need to have both countries agree to a freeze on new nuclear weapons (at least if such a freeze is verifiable).  There should of course be immediate inspection of any suspected nuclear weapon sites. If Russia doesn’t agree to this — and if any diplomatic gesture such as inviting them to join NATO doesn’t work — then we need to have tougher sanctions than we do at present.

 We should also (especially if such a freeze is non-verifiable) consider removing the threat by increased trade. 

 Alvin Blake/Boulder