Think, Know, Prove–Reinvention Task Force Proposals

So, as I mentioned in yesterday’s post about Thursday’s forum, the Chancellor is reportedly re-working some aspects of her original pitch to us. One of those areas of revision has to do with faculty participation in the Task Forces. As you may remember, the original pitch was that faculty (ft and adjunct) could apply to be on a task force, and if they were chosen then the administration would find a substitute for the teaching of their classes over the rest of the semester (and presumably the beginning of the spring semester). Someone, somehow convinced the Chancellor and her team, or so we understand, that this plan was not such a great plan, and so they are re-thinking it and considering ways to revise it for Version 2.0 coming in October.

Note, the goals, the format (Task Forces with faculty and students and staff from around the district on the six areas of inquiry) and other aspects are not all going to change. There will be a Reinvention Plan–that toothpaste is out of the tube–and Process; you can bet on that. We may, however, be able to help shape it, at least a little.

So today’s Think, Know, Prove question relates to how these task forces ought to be structured in your opinion to maximize faculty participation while also maximizing efficiency. There are opportunity costs to both of those aims and tension between them, but the question remains: if there are going to be task forces and it is a necessity (as Metoyer argued) for faculty to be active on them if the outcomes of them are to be worthwhile, then how should they be structured?

What’s your suggestion for them? FT gigs, no teaching, running from January to May (a version of the current proposal pushed back three months)? 2 classes of released time for participants? 1? 4? A stipend? Push it all back until summer? Local teams that work on campus and send proposals to a District Wide Task Force for review/analysis/prioritization/synthesizing?

What’s your idea for how this part of the plan should be structured, assuming that the goals and the rest remain the same? What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?

3 thoughts on “Think, Know, Prove–Reinvention Task Force Proposals

  1. It seems like 2 or 3 class release time might be a worthwhile thing to consider. A stipend, while it is nice to make a little more money for work done, could really overload a faculty member with full committee duties to the reinvention plus full load of classes so neither gets the time it needs.

    Prepping and creating committees during Spring and then doing the actual work during summer could work out very well.

    The danger I see with pulling out of our classes completely to work on the task force is (and maybe it wouldn’t be an issue but…) that more part-timers would have to be hired. Having been an adjunct for many years (and now am a several year full timer), I am very supportive of adjuncts and think the wages they make and the sacrifices they accept in their lives in order to teach are unfair – but at the same time, I think we are allowing far too many adjuncts into the system. Many departments have a huge imbalances between adj. and full-time. Having more full time faculty released from all of their classes only means more imbalance.

    Adj. are much cheaper for the bottom line of District. It is much easier to say ‘no money for new full time hires’ when you can point to all the adjuncts that do the job instead. Why go the more expensive route (and the more educationally sound route) when it can be done for half the cost.

    Again, adj. are a valuable tool and we should be looking to them for our pool of full time potentials – we know the really good ones that would fit well into departments – but the current level of imbalance weakens the overall faculty input and control over reinvention.

  2. I wasn’t able to make it to the meeting on Thursday, so maybe some of this was covered.

    My first question is, what does a full-time commitment mean? Does that mean that faculty, staff and students are expected to go to district 9am-5pm Mon-Fri? Or, since faculty full-time is 30 hrs a week, that we would spend that 30 hrs at district? What is the expectation?

    My suggestion is that full-time commitment means simply that the reinvention is the sole focus of work during that time period (Jan – May, or whatever is determined). The way that I see this working is that the task force would meet once a week, set the goals for the week, delegate responsibilities to each member for that week, and then everyone would work individually or in small groups wherever is most convenient to them for the remainder of the week. Then, the following week, the task force will meet again, discuss the progress that was made, problems that were encountered, tweak the plan, and repeat the process. This makes the most sense to me, as the way to get the work done effectively and efficiently.

    As to other possibilities for the structure:

    1) Teaching full-time with a stipend, I think, will not allow for either our classes or work on the reinvention to get the amount of time and attention that they require. Something will end up getting neglected, and most likely it would be the reinvention work.

    2) Release time for faculty to work on a task force has its pros. Faculty will still be teaching, but will also have more time to work on the reinvention. One of the problems is that not all of our classes across the college carry the same number of credit hours. For example, the majority of math classes we offer are 4 hour courses. So, six hours of release time would require math faculty to teach 9 hours and work on the reinvention. It could pose a problem if faculty are scheduled to teach two four hour courses (8hrs) and are now short one hour. It’s not a huge deal, but still there would be inequality amongst the faculty. Also, this could pose scheduling conflicts – the task force wants to meet, but some people are teaching mornings, others afternoons, and others evenings – not a good way to go.

    3) Pushing it all back until the summer. I don’t like it at all. First, would there then be extra pay given to those who participate? And would faculty be allowed to teach summer school and participate on the reinvention? How many faculty are willing to spend their entire summer working at District? Second, do we really expect administration to sit idle until May waiting for us to get the ball rolling? I suspect that if they allow us to push our participation off until summer, we will walk in and be handed an outlined plan and just be expected to organize the implementation.

    These are all valuable suggestions, but my fear is that if we as faculty reduce our participation on the task forces, we will then be up against administrators who are working on it full-time, coming up with ridiculous ideas that we then have to either waste time arguing against, or just accept. I really do think that full-time participation is the only way that we can assure that we are the ones controlling the changes being made, rather than just making the changes we are told to make.

    Now, on to other things.

    We do not know how many members each task force will have. Perhaps the number is unlimited, depending on interest, but this seems unlikely. My hope is that each task force will have at least one faculty member from each college. I love the idea of mirroring the district initiative at the college level by setting up local task forces. This would be a built in structure of sharing and communicating the work being done. It would also allow for more faculty participation. Those on the district task forces would be members of the local task forces and be responsible for relating information from district to the college, and would be the voice of the college to the district. No matter what the district time commitment ends up being, we at HW should absolutely set up local task forces. Now, some questions about the logistics of this: Who would be members of the local task forces? Would there be an application process similar to that of district (and who would be making the decisions)? Or would it be just whoever wants to be on it is on it? Can members come and go as they please? Or would there be a steady membership? My gut feeling is that in order to have the most effect, these local task forces would have a core membership, people who are at every meeting and who are considered the local task force, as well as those who just want to stop in when they have time or when they have a suggestion to make. These task forces need to be in place before the reinvention task forces begin working, so that we don’t encounter the endless scheduling conflicts that occur with every committee. There needs to be a set time that the local task forces meet, when every member of the core task force is available. Otherwise, what’s the point?

    These are just some of my thoughts based on my experience working on district and local committees.

    • A lot of good, new additions to the discussion in your piece, Alias 12. Thanks for the contribution! Very helpful, I’d say.

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