The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

The voice of De Anza since 1967.

La Voz News

    Facing their own layoffs

    Instructional aide doubles as layoff committee member

    Greg Knittel and Frances Frazer have been working at De Anza College for 20 years. “This is our home, I like to help students so much,” said Frazer.

    Both Knittel and Frazer are about to be laid off from their positions as instructional associates. Knittel assists history professors, and Frazer assists psychology professors. They tutor students, including those with special needs, help them with their essays and consult with them. With their positions eliminated, classes of 200 to 250 students will no longer be broken into small groups so that each student receives more attention. State budget cuts for public education will result in a less educated generation, said Frazer and Knittel.

    Knittel is a member of the Instructional Planning Budget Team, whose chair is Christina Espinoza-Pieb, the vice president of Instruction at De Anza. The team discussed possible ways to deal with huge budget cuts. Each division’s dean gave a presentation. The team then defined three phases of the budget cuts. Employees at the first phase are able to cope with the financial difficulties, for instance, by making revenue increases by increasing classes, or by cutting the positions of those who are retiring. Cuts at the second phase included program reductions. And those who are at the third have to be laid off.

    The team voted to eliminate only some instructional associates, not all. Those who work in scientific labs remain in place. But those who are helping in the humanities departments will be cut.

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    “My duties will be restructured. Perhaps professors will take on a bigger burden to help their students without our help,” said Knittel.

    In addition to their assistance duties, both have had teaching experience. Knittel teaches American and world history; Frazer led a class that combined teaching psychology and math. This course, “Mind over Math,” compiled by her friend Lynn Prendergast, aimed to help students who were, in Frazer’s words, “afraid of math.” This course helped many students, especially those who majored in humanities or journalism, not only to feel more comfortable with numbers but also to feel more confident. However, it is no longer taught because “there are enough math classes now,” Frazer said.

    Knittel used to tutor De Anza students who were put in juvenile hall. “At first they were very tough. But soon they warmed up because they desperately needed to communicate with anyone who will talk and listen to them,” he said.

    Both are sure that the school could find less painful ways to cope with reductions in financing.

    “They could cut all wages a little bit,” said Frazer. Knittel pointed out that the problem should be solved at the state level, probably by increasing taxes.

    Knittel keeps his spirits up.

    “What I will be doing after my days at De Anza finish? I will be teaching my six parrots!,” said Knittel. “One of them already has learned to say ‘hello’!”

    Knittel, who often wears Beatles t-shirts, plays guitar. “Not a single student or teachers’ gathering were without his music,” Frazer said.

    “This office is the warm home for everyone. And so was De Anza for us. We will miss our students and colleagues very much,” she said.

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