Is This Seat Taken? Don’t Mind if I Do.

NOTE: This post has been updated in a new post with a correction about the third paragraph.

In light of my post about the proposed new head covering policy, a few other people with knowledge of the proposed revision/consolidation of existing policies that there are more problems than that one. First a bit of background on the project: in an early January email to all District Presidents, VPs, Deans of Instruction, Deans of Student Services, Deans of Careers, Registrars, and 24 Vice Chancellors, Associate Vice Chancellors, Executive Directors and Directors, Associate Vice Chancellor of Academic Systems Michael Mutz, wrote:

As you know, we have reviewed each of our academic and student policies over the past few months with the following goals:

  • Streamline, simplify and condense policies.
  • Eliminate redundancy (between and within the Academic Policy Manual and Student Policy Manual).
  • Update/create new policies and delete policies that are no longer needed – focus on correcting policies with errors, that are out of compliance and/or create barriers to student success.
  • Separate procedures from policy.

Structural changes have been made.

  • Consolidated the policy content from the Academic Policy Manual and Student Policy Manual and created a new CCC Academic & Student Policy document
  • Revised policy content to achieve the four goals, above

Sounds like a good project! I like the clear parameters/goals. (Though, it should be noted that any policy manual ought to have a clear audience, and that a policy manual that has been streamlined for students would not include sections on “Faculty Program” and “Tenure Process” and a manual streamlined for, say, faculty and academic staff would probably not include information about sections on “Financial Aid Eligibility” and the like, which suggests that this project is really an effort to make things easier for Administrators, but whatever–no one but administrators reads policy manuals until they need them, so I’m willing to be open-minded and forgiving about this aspect.)

I do think it’s a bit strange that among those reviewing the only people who could possibly represent a faculty viewpoint are those who would do so through their imaginations and those administrators who, like Armen, for example, are former faculty (No CCC Union leadership? No FC4 leadership? Not even a nod? Puzzling), but perhaps that happened indirectly (i.e., someone on the list understood that they would pass this along) or by other means like administrators sending the link to faculty or something. Or, maybe, just maybe, they (AVC Mutz, the VC to whom he reports, or all or some of those at Campus Zero) concluded (or assumed) that this kind of project is an administrative one and so within their sole purview (a.k.a. a “Make-It-Work” Initiative). But that stuff, for now, is neither here nor there; I do not want to focus here about why faculty don’t (seem to) have a seat at this table, even in the review stage–to restate for absolute clarity: this is not a complaint about process–but instead seek an answer to whether there are substantive problems with this proposed set of policies that are going unaddressed or unconsidered (or, maybe, under-considered) on account faculty absence at the “table.” So I’d like to focus your attention here, on substance, at least for now.

Why limit the focus in this way, when process is such a big part of the current concerns? Because regardless of the process issue, I think faculty perspective on that third goal in particular (“Update/create new policies and delete policies that are no longer needed – focus on correcting policies with errors, that are out of compliance and/or create barriers to student success.”) might have some things to say that might be helpful and while the process discussion is important, we won’t get to the substance if we don’t temporarily bracket the process problems.

So, what is the substance of which I speak? Well, there’s good stuff, for sure! For example:

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How Bad Policy Gets Made: Hats and Headcoverings

As you may know, the masters of the universe are busy revising and consolidating policy manuals in the name of simplification and clarity. If you just cringed, or even flinched, involuntary, prepare yourself for worse. If such a project were proposed as the central theme of an episode of The Office or Bob’s Burgers or something, one would expect hilarity to ensue; unfortunately, this is real life, and so the outcome is closer to abject stupidity, if not horrifyingly and stupifyingly bad decisions and more, imminent embarrassment for the colleges that we love and to which we dedicate ourselves.

You may recall the hootenanny about hats from 2010 or 2011 (can’t remember exactly when the “head covering policy” and the inconsistent enforcement of it became an issue on campus; I thought I wrote about it, but can’t find it now. Anyway, it was a big enough deal–specifically, the lack of enforcement–that it was turned into a “scenario” question for the VP Search Committee that led to Margie’s hiring a year or two later). As I recall, word came down, rather suddenly and without explanation (surprise, surprise) that the policy had to be enforced and universally. This led to a couple of unpleasant confrontations on different campuses between students wearing various kinds of hats and headcovers for various reasons and the security guards who were following orders. The policy–long as obsolete as it was futile with respect to deterring or affecting gang activity, and about as culturally arbitrary as banning sneakers would be–seems to be a zombie element of the Policy Manual. The current version (see Page 77) reads like this:

Headcovering Policy
Students entering City Colleges of Chicago buildings are required to remove all head coverings unless such coverings are associated with religious beliefs or documented medical conditions.

 

This week Mike Davis contacted me about the revised version of this policy. Apparently, he’s among those reviewing and commenting on the drafts. The draft form of the new policy reads as follows:

Dress Code Policy

CCC students are expected to dress appropriately while on campus as a demonstration of their seriousness of purpose, out of respect for their peers, faculty and staff, and to model behavior that is consistent with their chosen career pathway and what will be expected of them in the workforce.

(a)      Head Covering Policy

The wearing of head coverings can cause undue attention and distraction and may interfere with the educational process for all students.  Students should not wear baseball hats, caps, hoods, and other head coverings while inside CCC buildings and facilities.  Students will be asked to remove their head covering to comply with this policy.

Religious or Medical Exemption – This policy does not apply to head coverings associated with an individual’s sincerely held religious beliefs or a documented medical condition.  If a student wishes to wear a head covering which is associated with his or her sincerely held religious beliefs or a documented medical condition, the student must request such an accommodation at the College Student Services Office by completing a Religious and Medical Head Covering Exemption Form.

(b)      Clothing Policy

Students should not wear clothing in an indecent or improper manner.  Examples of inappropriate clothing include clothing that exposes undergarments and/or indecently exposes body parts.  Shirts/blouses, pants/shorts/skirts, and shoes must be worn at all times.

Failure to adhere to the dress code policy will be considered a violation of the Standards of Conduct and a student may be subject to discipline.

I can’t even deal with that first paragraph, so I’m going to completely ignore it, lest I get lost in it. I also cannot and will not deal with the B section, but except to say that in 12 years of teaching, I’ve never experienced a situation that requires this policy. Maybe I’ll find people running the hallways barefoot in their underwear tomorrow, but somehow I doubt it. Let’s talk about the headcovering section. Mike’s response was much kinder than mine would have been; when he saw the draft, he responded writing,

“Someone better re-think this immediately.  All students who wear head coverings (and Truman has a lot of people in hijabs (employees and students)) are going to be required to ask for permission to continue doing so by filling out a form at the Student Services Office?!?!?  Headcoverings are not an issue, and this targets Muslim students.  This is extrememly dis-respectful and doesn’t belong in the manual.We’ve had a ‘no hats’ policy for a while.  In winter, people wear their winter hats in class (because many times its still cold in there), and it doesn’t bother anyone.  Seeing hijabs only adds to the diversity of the school.  Making people register for them is really just awful.”

Truman’s VP, Pervez Rahman, responded with wholehearted agreement and proposed dropping the second sentence of the exemption section. That was a Thursday. The response from VC Michael Mutz that arrived on the following Monday begins by saying, “We need to finalize this language.” (The ol’ ‘Here’s your hat, what’s your hurry!’ treatment, as John Hader would refer to it). Why? My guess is that they’re trying to get this ready for approval at the February Board meeting. Impressively, it gets worse from there.

Mr. Mutz then wonders how security will know who is exempt if the students don’t fill out the form? We need a process, he suggests, or we’ll have to stop everyone or no one. (Nice framing, eh? He’s already ruled out any consideration of abandoning the policy.) He explains that students will follow the process so they can receive a sticker on their IDs, which they can then show to security to prove that they are exempt from this policy. I’ll let that sink in for a minute. Without a sticker on an ID how could a security guard working at an educational institution possibly judge whether a head covering might be worn for religious reasons and distinguish a yarmulke from a ski cap?

My reaction was something like this:

A sticker. On their ID.  A form to get a sticker to prove themselves exempt from a policy that explicitly does not apply to them. We’re going to make students fill out a form to publicly declare and affirm their religious affiliation–a requirement that is beyond the requirements of some of the religions themselves! Anything leap to mind? Any historical associations out there that jump up and bite you? What color do you think it should be? What shape?

I mean, I guess it would be worse if there were a climate of intolerance toward some  of the religions likely to be most affected by this policy…oh wait. I guess there’s this and this and this and this and this and this. Surely our fearless and thoughtful leaders considered these concerns. They even say, multiple times, that they understand the concerns, but in the end, nothing can be done. VP Rahman’s proposal to keep the policy but delete the part about the form and the sticker won’t work, they say. Why not? One person, Beatrice O’Donnell, states that without the sentence in question, security staff would not know where to send students to fill out the form for their exemption!

Talk about missing the point! But that’s enough for VC Mutz who says that it seems to be “very important text” and follows that with a plea to finalize the language (exactly three hours after his first response).  Mike Davis, perhaps accustomed to this kind of inanity from his time in meetings on Jackson, responds, more patient than I would have been, writing,

This policy is a mistake, and should be reconsidered.  Wearing a head covering for religious purposes is the individuals right, and it is not dependent upon CCC’s acknowledgement or permission.  Requiring students and employees to individually get permission to wear their religious head coverings is unnecessary at best.  The whole reason we’ve had a policy was mostly about hats.

I’ve looked around and I found no other places that require students wearing religious head coverings to register.  There is no need for such a policy.

That said, I saw this statement in the security memos:

1. If the individual advises the officer that the head covering is for a cultural, religious, medical, or for special needs, the officer will NOT question the requested exception.

2. Safety and Security Officers will NOT probe for further information.

A third step asked them to proceed to the correct CCC office, presumably for the form.  Just eliminate that step.  That would be fine.  No need to individually mark IDs.  No need to make people sign forms to practice their religion.  This is unnecessary.

Which is when the General Counsel, Eugene Munin weighs in, which I quote in full:

Thank you for your comments and I appreciate your concerns.  As you know, we have had a policy prohibiting head coverings (not hats) for many years.  The policy also included an exemption for those with religious beliefs or medical conditions.  The reason that the most recent change was made is because the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) demanded that CCC have some clearly outlined process by which those with sincerely held religious beliefs could be assured that they were approved for this exemption.  OCR directed that we make this change, reviewed the precise language, and approved the change.  This was part of a settlement in a case that we had with a student from Daley College and we are not in a position to unilaterally modify the language at this point.

As I said, I appreciate your concerns, but this was a settlement of a case with the federal government and we cannot change the language.

Yes. We cannot change the language. At least not as long as we keep the policy. And we’ve had this policy for years! (So, who are we to change it? Is that the point? Really? WTF?) Which raises the question–if they really shared Mike and VP Rahman’s concerns, why not at least consider eliminating the policy? I’m no lawyer, but I know what words mean and I’m pretty sure that such a move would make the OCR issue a moot point. If there is no head-covering policy, there is no need for students to be assured of their exemption from it. So why do we need this policy again? To tell Crips from Bloods on the streets of 1980s LA? Hats are not signifying anything that isn’t communicated in multiple other ways and this policy will do more to cause “undue attention, distraction,” and interference “with the educational process for all students” than it would if I walked in wearing Carmen Miranda’s fruit basket on my head.

I’d love to hear how this policy contributes to the four Reinvention goals. I’m sure it allows for savings that come from consolidating resources. Doesn’t everything they do? More than anything, though, I’d love to hear them talk about how they can fit the CCC commitment to diversity with their preference for a policy that makes people register their religious beliefs so that students aren’t wearing caps in class. THAT is a speech I’d buy a ticket for, even if it were at some fancy downtown club filled with people whose imaginations end at the tip of their egos.

Mike encourages anyone with feedback on this policy to voice their issues to Michael Mutz (mmutz@ccc.edu) and Eugene Munin (emunin@ccc.edu). The next board meeting is February 4th.

Website Wednesday: Syllabus Project

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

I read about this week’s site in the NY Times in an article written by the researchers associated with the project. Their baby is called The Open Syllabus Project, and it has a really interesting tool associated with it called the Syllabus Explorer.

I’ll let you read about the origins and aims of the project, but, if nothing else, check out the Syllabus Explorer, which features a list of the most frequently assigned texts (across all disciplines or filtered by discipline). Then, when you click on one of those texts, you see a list of the texts most frequently assigned with that one. it’s awesome. I’ve already added four or five books to my Amazon wish list for next summer (if I can wait that long).

It is a rabbit hole, for sure, so make sure you’ve submitted your NSW’s first!

PS: If you’d like a laugh, be sure to check out the Syllabus of the Month post on their blog, and if you want to be inspired, check out their post about David Carr’s syllabus (click on the link to check out his syllabus–it’s magic).

Special Union Request and Call for Volunteers

Jesú, our union chapter chair, asked me to post the following, which you also received in email:

 

Dear Union Sisters and Brothers,

 

Next week, the Alliance of City College Unions (ACCU) has called for a two-day informational table campaign for City College workers, students, and community members to learn about the Elect the City Colleges School Board Campaign and sign a petition advocating for a new direction in the City Colleges; the petition will go to the mayor.  Tony Johnston, our CCCTU president says, “The information tables are the first in a series of coordinated events by the Alliance of City College Unions (1600, 1708 Clerical, CCCLOC-Adjuncts, AFSCME Adult Educators and SEIU Custodial) to reach out to the City College community about our issues and gain allies.”  I add that it will help us hone our talking points in promoting the Vote of No Confidence and for future actions and inform students and colleagues about the issues at hand.

 

We have a table reserved Tuesday, 1/26 and Wednesday, 1/27 in the lobby from 9a.m. to 5p.m.  I am planning on sitting on Tuesday before our sanctioned meeting from 11a.m. to 11:30a.m. and after the Union meeting, but still need volunteers, ideally two per shift.  Plus, it would send a stronger message to the opposition, if various people sat at the table.

 

Right now, I definitely need coverage on Tuesday 1/26: 11:30 to noon, noon to 1:30p.m., and 1:30p.m. to 2p.m.  Wednesday 1/27: 9-9:30a.m., 10a.m.-10:30a.m., 10:30a.m. to 11a.m., 11a.m. to 11:30a.m., 11:30a.m. to noon, 1:30p.m. to 2p.m., 2p.m. to 2:30p.m., and 3p.m. to 5p.m. (in 30 minute increments.)

 

If you want to volunteer, read the volunteering documents carefully before you sit at the table so the talking points will be clear; I will send those to you via email and talk or meet with you on Monday, if you have questions.

 

For now, is anybody interested in sitting at the table for 30 minutes or more?

 

Thank you to the faculty who are already volunteering; your contributions are crucial.  I also want to thank our coalition sister for taking the initiative to schedule the table for a longer period of time.  (Please, feel free to share this message, where appropriate and include my contact information.)

 

In Solidarity,

 

María (Jesú) Estrada, Ph.D

H.W.C./District Local 1600, Chapter Chair
H.W.C./District Local 1600, Grievance Committee Member

Website Wednesday: Wait But Why

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

Yes, it’s a day late–weeks that begin on Tuesday always mess me up. But still, here we are. I have no recollection whatsoever of what I was looking for when I came across today’s site, called “Wait But Why?”, but I’m positive it wasn’t anything to do with this site. It pulled me in, though.

This post, which begins, “Humans are good at a lot of things, but putting time in perspective is not one of them,” drew my interest in part because I finished a book a couple of weeks ago called Sapiens that I found to be fascinating in part because of the perspective it provided on human history (as well as various parts of the argument posed in the book).

Other interesting posts include one on Artificial Intelligence, one on the Fermi Paradox (about extraterrestrial life in the universe), and one on Horizontal History–all three have cool visual graphics that do as much work presenting and supporting the the ideas presented as the words in the post.

Website Wednesday: Blank on Blank

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

Check out Blank on Blank, a (new-ish) YouTube channel (here is the home site) associated with PBS Digital; this is their trailer:

It features voices of the past (John Coltrane, Grace Kelly, Fidel CastroLouis Armstrong, John and Yoko) and the present (Tupac Shakur, Maya Angelou, Kurt Vonnegut, Bill Murray) talking (in five to six minute excerpts from interviews) about some topic that is timelessly contemporary over cool animation. I can imagine it serving various purposes in various classrooms–as a writing prompt, as a tool for practicing argument (or visual) analysis, as an introduction to important figures of pop culture, music, and cinema history, as a knowledge probe in a sociology or anthropology class, as a model for a project in a digital media class (or other art class), as a snapshot of an historical moment or period, and much more.

On a personal note, a couple of days after I first ran across the site (the Vonnegut video was featured as ‘Video of the Day’ on “The Browser“), I came home and my beloved said, “Hey check this out–David Gerlach (a former teaching colleague of hers at a Chicago High School) has an awesome new project!” and it was Blank on Blank. David was a history/humanities teacher, and now he’s an Executive Producer for a digital video series. I’m not sure what he studied in college, but I’m sure there’s no straight line from what he chose as his major to what he is doing for a career. But I digress. It’s always nice to see cool people doing great things, and this is most definitely that.

 

Think, Know, Prove: Degrees of Difference (@ Harold Washington)

Think, Know, Prove is an occasional Friday feature, where a topic with both mystery and importance is posted for community discussion. The title is a shortened version of the Investigative Mantra: What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove? and everything from wild speculation to resource referencing fact is welcome here.

As promised, long ago, I have school by school installments of the degrees awarded. Unfortunately, my numbers do NOT include the remarkable 2015 numbers, as I have not been able to acquire a school-by-school breakout of those yet, but even still, the trends are still relevant. Here’s the picture for Harold Washington (click on the picture to make it bigger):

Degrees--HW 2014

As you can see, the total degrees for Harold tripled (!) from 2008 to 2014, with increases across the board. Almost a quarter of that growth, however, is due to a spike in AGS degrees. I do not have any accounting of how many of those 332 AGS degrees granted in 2014 were retroactive (probably not many since CS9 was not yet operational) and I’m also guessing that few of them were reverse-transfer degrees, since many of those articulation agreements (and, again, the software) were not in place either in 2014, which means that, likely, most of those were degrees actually granted to students finishing in 2014, a year that saw us grant more AA degrees in 2014 than we gave out degrees of ANY sort in 2008, which is an undeniable positive, double the AS degrees over the same period (again, a positive), and a year in which nearly 4 in 10 of the degrees were AGS, up from 1 in 10.

So, what do you think, what do you know, what can you prove?

 

Website Wednesday: Chicago and Guns

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

When fall rolls around–and I mean real fall: crunchy leaves, frosty ground, 40 degree mornings–I get excited about going hunting. Growing up that way, and continuing to do it (and love it), give me a little different perspective on guns than most of the people with whom I share political commitments (somewhere between hippie and pinko, according to my father). But guns and gun usage are undoubtedly a problem in Chicago and in the United States.

Four pieces for your consideration:

~”America’s Mass Shooting Capital is Chicago

~And it’s not just your imagination–it really is worse this year

~But it’s also true that some of the most notorious, recent mass shooters got guns that they shouldn’t have been able to get if the current laws were enforced

~And it’s not clear that an outright prohibition would be better

And sometimes it’s hard to know what exactly is going on, since crime data (like all data) isn’t exactly (ever?) truly raw data.

 

 

 

Website Wednesday: Active Learning Protocols

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

Over the years I’ve been teaching, I’ve had a number of colleagues ask about or ask for ideas related to discussions and active learning. For a long time, my primary recommendations was Stephen Brookfield’s Discussion as a Way of Teaching: Tools and Techniques for Democratic Classrooms. It’s a great book, but maybe a little wonky and philosophical (in the sense of being really thorough in its consideration and discussion of discussion), which maybe not everyone is as enthusiastic about as I am.

Happily, this summer I read a book called Discussion in the Classroom by Jay Howard, and it is my new first recommendation. Howard is a sociologist and so the book features his findings on the sociology of the college classroom (with a nice overview of others’ research, too) and makes a few critical, simple points about a couple of classroom culture obstacles (e.g., norms like “civil attention” and “consolidation of responsibility”) to good discussion. The book also integrates multiple various, easy, effective (in my experience) remedies to address them. Some of the ideas I knew from my own trial and error, some I learned from other sources, including colleagues, books, and (mostly) my personal teaching hero (to whom I’m married). For me the book was less helpful in terms of providing new strategies than it was helpful in clarifying why some of my favorite approaches turn out to be effective (and why some others that I liked before trying them didn’t work so well). It also includes chapters on grading participation and online participation, among others, and it’s short and easy to read.

But maybe you don’t want a book to read. Fair enough.

Lucky for you, some of my favorite strategies are published in slightly different form on a website dedicated to Common Core-related teaching resources. They are published in the form of “protocols” which are basically recipes for action. The site describes them as practices for elementary and middle-schoolers (3rd to 8th grade), but they are easily adaptable to our classrooms given the similarities in size and set-up. In truth, the protocols could be used with first graders as well as college students–the complexity of the task derives from the complexity of the text, not the protocol (though, the protocols can be adjusted in that regard, too, just by taking the basic structure and altering the specific task or questions as appropriate. Favorites  for processing text (and, in the process, learning to effectively summarize/analyze/compare texts) include: “Concentric Circles,” “Jigsaw,”  “Say Something,” “Written Conversation,” “Rank, Talk, Write,”  “Popcorn Read,” “Tea Party,” and “Take a Stand.”  Check ’em out.

 

Random Readings

This piece on Thoreau is laugh out loud funny and completely made me rethink, and want to reread, a book I’ve loved.

Lots of people die in October and November. This is a Q and A with someone who knows it from the inside.

And, finally, “A Public Assembly Facilities Manager Considers Jurassic World.” Simply awesome. Reminds me of my high school physics teacher’s assignment to analyze a Road Runner cartoon for affinity to and violations of natural laws for an exam.

 

 

Website Wednesday: Library of Babel

Website Wednesday is a (mostly) weekly feature in which we highlight one (or a couple) of sites from the Billions floating around the Intertoobz that just might help you with your Herculean task of educating inquiring minds. Any and all suggestions for future editions are welcome.

I love Jorge Luis Borges’ short story, “The Library of Babel” as much for what it is as for the literature it has inspired–especially Umberto Eco’s The Name of the Rose–but because every time I read a book with a library in it–from Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore or The Strange Library to Carlos Luis Zafon’s The Shadow of the Wind (which I didn’t even like that much) to children’s literature like Lissa Evans’ Horton’s Miraculous Mechanisms–I can’t help but think about it again. And there’s so much to think about!

Anyway, you can imagine my delight when I encountered this article about a Brooklyn author who has created a virtual Library of Babel. And then, I found this explanation by the creator himself of his project and motivations.

And then I went to the Library of Babel, itself.

I browsed around a bit, and then decided it would be more fun to search. What did I search for? This: “When others paint a biased and incomplete portrait of all of our contributions, it is critical to state the facts clearly so that everyone at CCC and all of Chicago can continue to rightfully take pride in the great endeavor in which we are involved” and there it was on page 56 of Pkjyfjzj.pbfen Qdbxcp located in 137y3o6u9dvns
xb8l7n393oqcbc2i6djh1nu2ys…-w1-s4-v02

Though, to be honest, that’s only one location. According to the search engine there are approximately 10 to the 29th power other matches, too. Kind of a goofy way to spend time, but it beats stewing, I guess, and it definitely beats grading midterms. At least for a little while. And if it doesn’t, then go find some Borges (or something) to read…

President Martyn Responds to (Negative Articles) in Crain’s and Sun-Times

In your email is an interesting response to this article in Crain’s and this article in the Sun-Times (also sent out over the Google list-serv on Sunday morning (thanks, Carrie!).

The response begins:

Colleagues:

I wanted to share this message regarding some recent media coverage of City Colleges and am happy to help answer any further questions you may have.

City Colleges of Chicago has been the subject of some negative media coverage in recent days, and I want to provide context for these stories, which make false accusations, mischaracterize our record and do a disservice to the efforts of everyone at CCC to empower our students for success.

And it ends with this gem, a point with which I whole-heartedly agree (and which seems to be offered without irony):

When others paint a biased and incomplete portrait of all of our contributions, it is critical to state the facts clearly so that everyone at CCC and all of Chicago can continue to rightfully take pride in the great endeavor in which we are involved.

I’ll leave you to do your own analysis and evaluation of the response in relation to the original articles. My question is a different one–did all seven President’s send out the same response? Anybody out there know if the other President’s sent out the same text?

Think, Know, Prove: Merit Pay–Some Considerations

Think, Know, Prove is an occasional Friday feature, where a topic with both mystery and importance is posted for community discussion. The title is a shortened version of the Investigative Mantra: What do we think, what do we know, what can we prove? and everything from wild speculation to resource referencing fact is welcome here.

Our current contract went into effect on July 16, 2013 and includes a little provision in Article VI, Section C, as you might recall, called “Student Success Pay.” This was, shall we say, a controversial aspect of the contract. Our Union leadership at the time made the case that we should like it because, “Hey, free money!” (I’m paraphrasing). And now, one month short of halfway through our contract, I’m not sure that anyone is any closer to understanding this provision than when it was proposed. Two important considerations jump out–one is principle and one is practical. We’ll take the easier of the two first.

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NPR Survey on Trigger Warnings

Speaking of trigger warnings, a colleague passed along a survey put together by and education reporter at NPR named Meg Anderson. She writes:

We are doing some informal research at colleges nationwide on the use of “trigger warnings” – a disclaimer to students that upcoming material could have adverse effects for students.

She invited my colleague to share the survey with “faculty and staff in your department who teach students directly,” and gave me permission to do the same. If you’re interested, click HERE for the survey. It takes less than a minute unless you’re a really, really slow reader. If you’d like to know more/say more, you can contact her at manderson@npr.org.