By ANDREW PAXTON
Both candidates for Pima Community College’s available seat on the college’s governing board have vowed to support open admissions, adult education and adjunct instructors at the college.
Mark Hanna, a counselor at Catalina Magnet High School, and Michael Duran, an executive at Tucson Medical Center, both spoke at an Education Accountability Session on Sept. 28.
They are vying to replace Brenda Even, who decided earlier this year not to seek re-election. She has served on PCC’s five-member governing board since 2001. The District 1 seat currently held by Even is the only one up for grabs this November.
The candidates were asked their vision for improving PCC’s transition of students with the greatest educational needs, basic literacy, adult education and inclusion.
Duran said he would work to ensure those students have access to the services that are available to all other students at Pima and not treat adult education differently than traditional classes.
“When you treat people equally, you honor their dignity as individuals,” he said.
Hanna said the most important mission for Pima is to have open access.
“In order to do that, they must provide developmental education that is available, and will earn credit, and scholarship and financial aid opportunities for all students,” he said. “These students must be able to pass their required classes, graduate and go on to college or the workplace.”
The candidates were then asked if they supported in-state tuition for Differed Action Childhood Arrival students, whether they will work to seek more funding for the non-profit development organization JobPath, and if they would work to improve conditions for adjunct instructors.
Both candidates answered “yes” to all three questions.
Duran said it is fundamental under our system of democracy to give people an opportunity for education.
“The DACA students I’ve come into contact with are incredibly bright and incredible contributors to our society and our community,” Duran said. “It’s imperative that the college continues to be open, accessible and affordable to all students.”
Hanna said there are more than 200 DACA students at Pima, and his work as a high school counselor has shown him the quality of these individuals.
“It is in the best interest of our community to educate these students,” he said. “Immigration reform will happen, and when it does, these students need to have the education and the skills to become a part of our society and our economy.”
On JobPath, Duran said “I will work very diligently to find other funding sources, both inside and outside the community, and to get other workforce partners so that JobPath and its participants have a clear path to success in our community.”
Hanna said JobPath is full of highly-motivated people that want to contribute to their community.
“It just makes sense,” he said. “Continuing JobPath, and maybe even expanding the programs, I would certainly support.”
Duran said he believes PCC administrators are taking the issue of adjunct pay seriously and want to improve conditions.
“I think that instructors, whether they are teaching basic education classes or transfer programs should all be treated equally,” he said.
Hanna said Pima “is built on the adjunct faculty” and their pay is below the national average.
“We must support them, not only with wages and benefits, but opportunities for professional development,” he said.