Pierce College, established in 1947 as Pierce College of Agriculture and now a more comprehensive and prestigious institution, is being seriously threatened. Its democratic future is being endangered by an unfair, autocratic proposal: the dismissal of 17 undeniably qualified and conscientious teachers.
This proposal has been imposed--impudently, arbitrarily and unnecessarily--by the Los Angeles Community College District's downtown administration. These 17 are but one small portion of 142 community college instructors to be discharged. The famous (or infamous) "March 15 letters" have officially apprised them of their dismissals.
This so-called "streamlining" by the downtown office is totally unwarranted. It is supposedly designed to rid the colleges of so-called "unnecessary" classes and to provide a more "balanced" curriculum. It proposes to institute other courses ostensibly more popular and appealing to students--such as business, vocational and computer sciences classes. It also intends to drop teachers in historically low-enrollment courses (such as German) and even in such traditional courses as history. This orientation toward more "functional" type courses will totally change the character of Pierce College and will make it more and more similar to West Valley Vocational Center across the street from Pierce. This needless repetition is preposterous, particularly when who is to say how long these currently "popular" classes will be in favor?
Furthermore, it does something worse. Dispensing of some teachers and then adding others is simply a manifestation of "divide and conquer." It will pit one class against another class and one teacher against another teacher. Rather than keeping solidarity and cooperation among teachers, it will promote petty rivalries and jealousies.
These teachers must be allowed to continue to earn their livelihood. They must not be thrown onto a labor market after years of faithful dedication and service. They are useful--in fact, more useful than other superfluous higher-ups in the downtown administrative hierarchy. These superfluous individuals certainly include the chancellor, who sits in his office on West Seventh Street and issues authoritarian edicts affecting the lives of valuable and useful citizens. Why don't he and they earn an honest living?
J. D. HESS