We have received an increasing number of reports of administrators requiring faculty to include student learning outcomes (SLOs) in their course syllabi. To be clear, the Guild maintains that faculty cannot be forced to include SLOs in their syllabi.
Whether faculty choose to include SLOs in their syllabi is entirely a matter of academic freedom for each faculty member. As we have repeatedly reminded District managers, courts have long held that instructional speech (including the content and design of syllabi) that is “within the parameters of the approved curriculum and within academic norms” is protected by the constitutional right of academic freedom that faculty enjoy. [See Sheldon v. Dhillon, 2009 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 110275, *14 (N.D. Cal. 2009).]
We are aware that administrators are using the specter of accreditation to pressure faculty into including SLOs in their syllabi. The accreditation process, however, does not trump the constitutional rights of faculty, nor does it trump the collective bargaining process. Notably, the District has never successfully negotiated or even attempted to negotiate with the Guild to require faculty to include SLOs in their syllabi.
That being said, if faculty on their own volition want to include SLOs in their syllabi, we certainly are not philosophically opposed to that, we are just making the case that it is the individual faculty member, not administration or anyone else, who gets to make the call.
Additionally, we are becoming increasingly aware of adjunct faculty being pressured to perform SLO work without compensation. This is illegal. The collective bargaining agreement spells out the rate of pay for adjunct faculty members, in addition to their required job duties. Unlike contract faculty members, adjunct faculty members do not have “on-campus” or “committee” responsibilities outside of teaching their classes. Any additional District related work, which is outside of directly related instructional duties, must be compensated, and must be compensated at the non-classroom rate of pay as specified in the CBA or as professional development (FLEX) credit.
Faculty members who feel they are being coerced by the administration to include SLOs in their syllabi or to perform extra work without compensation should immediately contact their AFT site representative for assistance. Likewise any adverse faculty evaluation results citing a lack of SLOs in a course syllabus need to be brought to our attention right away.
Please do not hesitate to contact myself or one of your AFT site representatives if you have any questions regarding the foregoing.
Jim Mahler, President
AFT Guild, Local 1931
San Diego & Grossmont-Cuyamaca