ReinQuestion?–Vol. 5

ReinQuestion? appears every Thursday and is an open thread for members of the HW and CCC community to post questions about the ongoing Reinvention. Any and all questions are invited, and anyone who knows an answer to any question posted is encouraged to answer it in the threads below.

First off, apologies for the late posting; by way of explanation, I wanted to let the snow closing stay on top for the early birds, in case they missed it.

So, we left off last week with a few lingering questions whose answers required a little patience. They were:

1) What now? (expressed in more specific terms as: A) What is our relationship with the Reinvention Team (RT)? B) Does a member of the RT contact our local president? C) Does our district-wide president communicate with the RT? D) If RT has not contacted FC, do we plan on getting in touch with them? E) Am I being too idealistic or does it make sense to have this relationship in place?)

2A) Will Cecilia [Lopez] make unilateral decisions regarding curriculum? (This question arose due to Cecilia’s calling of a meeting “to discuss English developmental courses” that did not include the members of the Task Force)

2B) Will the task force have any role in curriculum decisions and if not, what is the point?

1) The answer to Question #1 is still evolving, and, again, I should have more information after next week’s HWFC meeting (Tuesday @ 3:30, room 1046 (for now), but it might be moved next door pending turnout), when we will be visited by Theresa Carlton (Remediation Task Force) and hopefully the other HW members of the task forces for updates on their activities and process so far. It will be a great opportunity to hear directly from the task force members and get a better sense of what Reinvention actually looks like.

(Theresa also emphasized that she is willing to take any and all questions and seek out answers from district honchos, fellow task forces, or the powers of the universe, so long as she gets them early enough to direct them at the right people; so if you have a question, post it!)

I think everyone–local FC, FC4, and the Task Force members–is still feeling out how to build effective communication channels and gather and share information. For example, our local FC has been contacted by a couple of members of another Task Force (Staff and Faculty Development) who are going around to all of the Faculty Councils to conduct focus group meetings in order to gather information about faculty conceptions, desires and needs with respect to Professional Development. I will have more information on this meeting for you as we work out the format and logistical issues, but you should pencil in late afternoon on February 22nd if you are interested in hearing/talking about those issues.

As our relationships (and understanding) of the task forces grow, we (HWFC) are still looking at a few different plans for how HW faculty and staff can engage with and take advantage of the process and opportunity for self improvement that the Reinvention represents. Let’s face it–there’s lots of stuff that we’d all like to change for the better. I mean does anyone think that our purchasing process is sensible? Does anyone think the hiring packet is awesome? Does anyone think that the student advising (not just the advisors–I’m talking about faculty advising for classes, ongoing advising by everyone for graduation and transfer, etc) is the creme de la creme? Does everyone love our registration policies and processes? Is there anyone at all out there who thinks that teaching and curriculum and student support could be improved?

My point is that Reinvention–whatever else it is–represents a great opportunity to develop some consensus (locally) about how we’d like things to run. If we can get those ideas into the Reinvention Recommendations, so much the better; if we can’t, well then, we’ll have them at the ready for future experiments and reinventions or possible replacement suggestions should the reinvention recommendations prove ineffective.

We have a few morphing plans for “what’s next” locally under consideration at the moment, but should have something more complete worked out in the next FC meeting.  Rest assured, we are trying to figure out something that will work, be useful, and create opportunities for broad participation.

2A) Something of a loaded question here–prior questions that we need to get answered (and are seeking answers for) are a) was there a meeting? b) what was it about? c) who was there? d) what were the results/action goals? Perhaps the meeting led to a consensus about the effectiveness (or lack) of Intcom 100, or maybe it was merely a brainstorming session. Maybe it led to a unilateral decision (which would seem to imply a decision made by AVC Lopez that ran against the opinions and advice of everyone at the meeting (in the world?). Maybe not. In my own experience with her, that has not been her approach to such situations. She certainly has ideas about what ought to happen with respect to certain things, but in my experience with her through four years as a department chair, she has always been very responsive to both well developed counter-arguments and new information/evidence.

Personally, I don’t see the non-presence of a Task Force member at the meeting as a problem. The Task Forces are conducting inquiry, right? They are formulating questions, hypothetical answers to those questions, developing data sources to support or refute their hypotheses. In the meantime, practical decisions have to be made–decisions about the fall schedule for example, and what programs/classes will be offered. The Task Forces will make their recommendations (along with the other advisory panels, don’t forget) and those recommendations may very well overturn the decisions made now, but until they are made and weighed, why include them?

My concern would be if the meeting was about curriculum and had no FC4, Committee A, or local faculty representation. Ultimately, Cecilia is the #2 Academic person in the system, so it makes sense that the penultimate recommendation lies with her (recommended to the Provost, approved by the Chancellor). I would only see a problem if faculty had no input and/or no consensus agreement on the path forward, given faculty (and Faculty Council’s) responsibility for Curriculum recommendations.

This is a long way of saying that we will try to find out what the meeting was about, who was there, and what happened.

2b) As suggested above, I take the point of the task forces to be the conduct of an inquiry process into these various areas, with the goal of them making a set of recommendations. The recommendations will not be the only ones made, which has all of us a little nervous (or should), so their weight and likelihood to become policy is unclear. We should definitely not think of them as being in charge of or making curricular decisions, though. That is downright dangerous. We have a strong, effective, peer-review curriculum process already–one that generations of administrative teams have tried to skirt, ignore, or bullrush in one way or another, sometimes at the behest of individual faculty members, sometimes in contradiction to the wishes of all of them–and we should all work to make sure that process is understood, recognized, and protected by demanding that any and all curriculum recommendations that are made as a result of Reinvention or anything else be subject to that process and, so, be understood and ratified (or modified) by faculty.

Please keep your questions coming, and keep your eyes out for more information as things develop over the next week or so.

 

8 thoughts on “ReinQuestion?–Vol. 5

  1. As best I can make out, Reinvention has done two things to date: (1) They stopped local campuses from using their own logos on letterheads and the like, and (2) they changed graduation from local events to a District event. Does ANYONE truly believe that either of these would have the support and approval of an objective and diverse committee? If so, please tell us. Otherwise, we find ourselves in the awkward position of realizing that Reinvention is much more unilateral than anyone would care to admit.

    • I think you’re conflating administrative decisions made in the interest of cultivating a new brand for the CCC with the Reinvention process. Neither of those decisions came out of, were suggested by, or approved by any of people working on the Reinvention committees. They are related in that they are both aimed at creating the perception (if not the reality) of a unified system (along with the single transcript, references to branches, etc.), but they are administrative initiatives related to marketing, communication, branding, and public perception (and, it would likely be claimed, however awkwardly, student needs). Reinvention is another initiative. Two things that happen at the same time are not all causally related.

      I’m not saying that there aren’t things to dislike about Reinvention; just saying that we should dislike Reinvention for relevant reasons, if we are going to, rather than blaming it for everything we don’t like that the administration tries. That isn’t fair to anyone who’s working on it (our colleagues), and it undermines our credibility as critics of the real problems.

          • “…it undermines our credibility as critics of the real problems.”
            Agreed.
            However, isn’t the point of Reinvention to:
            A. Collectively reinvent City Colleges?
            B. Review ALL that we do as City Colleges.
            C. Make recommendations based on these reviews.
            D. Accept recommendations to make our City Colleges better for our students.

            I believe this to be the point for Anonymous’ post.
            I can understand and accept the need for ONE graduation ceremony IF this was the recommendation of the task force.
            However, a change is being made that does not recognize the intentions of the reinvention plan and appears to contradict the message and spirit of the reinvention endeavor.
            IF District had NOT engaged in reinvention, I’d have no choice but to accept the city-wide graduation in May; and we’d most likely be engaged in a different conversation. Such is not the case.

            Let me try explaining it with this analogy:
            The mayor tells the citizens of the city that they can reinvent the park system. During the first month, the citizens organize into task forces, begin to gather their ideas, and visit the neighborhoods. During that first month, the mayor proceeds to tell the citizens where they will build the parks.

            I’m open to further clarification PhiloDave (and others). I’m for the idea of reinvention if it is carried as we were told. It’s a good thing. I’m being critical of the process – not criticizing. Is my reasoning relevant?

          • I’d say that the analogy is an interesting one, Realist. I’d agree that if the Mayor said, “While you’re organizing yourselves, I’ll make these important decisions about what you’re supposed to be researching, there would be a problem.”

            Another problem would be if the Mayor said, “While you people are researching these problems, I’m not going to do a thing with the parks we already have–no mowing, no maintenance, not attention whatsoever until I have recommendations from you.”

            In such an instance the people, knowing that people want to use the parks, might be rushed into incomplete investigations and led to adopt fast, feasible, available solutions rather than really thinking big.

            Perhaps, as a result of the Reinvention inquiry, the graduation (and other) decisions will be rethought. Perhaps they’ll be rethought without input from task forces. Maybe they’ll go unmentioned and unconsidered by everyone. I don’t know, but I don’t expect all CCC business to be put on hold until the task force recommendations are made (given that their scope is specific and not comprehensive and that the business of the colleges, in the meantime, goes on).

            I’m not sure what task force would have responsibility for considering and addressing issues related to “branding,” anyway. It seems like something that is not directly related to the goals of the process. I’m not sure how having seven graduation ceremonies (or one) connects to the goal of having more graduates, more people moving from remedial courses to college courses, more people with degrees transferring to 4 year schools and/or more people moving from adult ed to college courses (which are the four goals of the process).

            I mean, we’re not reinventing everything; I think that’s the wrong way to think about this thing…

  2. I read you loud and clear PhiloDave. Your points are well taken.
    Thanks for clarifying and providing more ideas to consider.

    True, we are not reinventing everything. However, graduation ceremonies may fall under ‘The Operational Excellence and Optimization Task Force’. Per Reinvention’s website:
    “The Operational Excellence and Optimization Task Force will identify opportunities to improve the operational efficiency and effectiveness with which we deliver non-instructional services to our students and community.”
    Here’s the link: http://reinventingccc.org/task-forces/operational-excellence-and-optimization/

    Graduation is a non-instructional service. Let’s make changes for the right reason, not because cutting costs is more important than recognizing the individuality of campuses. What’s the rationale? Don’t we deserve to know? Will ONE graduation increase “success” at City Colleges? If so, I’m in.

    The citizens should speak IF they have been invited to participate in the greening of their parks, lest a mayor starts distributing seeds to the people with one hand and ordering the planting trees with the other; banking on the fact that no one would dare oppose his/her initiative.

    • And yours are well taken, too, Realist. I stand corrected on the task forces and agree with the rest, especially the third paragraph.

      Well done.

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