Nothing New Under the Sun: ID Policy Edition

So, just the other day as I rode home on the train, I was thinking to myself how nice it is not to have to be fighting about paper and copiers anymore, a thought that came to mind as I walked out of the building and saw the signs taped to the doors saying students would not be let in without their IDs. “This again,” I thought as I walked by, which drew my mind into other policy battles of the past (e.g., the Great Copy/Printer battles of 2012). Happily distracted by thoughts of gratitude I didn’t think much of the new ID policy, knowing that our active and effective Faculty Council was on the case and, surely, this wouldn’t be a thing again.

And then, just yesterday, I had a student show up at the very end of her class’ first examination, in the last two minutes of class, actually, apologizing and worried. She remembered having her ID with her at home in the morning, but somewhere between that memory and her arrival at school, she’d misplaced it. Unfortunately, she didn’t have ten dollars with her, nor a bank card to get some, so she had to go back home, get a check, get to a bank, cash it, return to school, pay the ten bucks, get a new ID and then find her professor and hope that she could get a make-up (which, as you surely can imagine) is not a guarantee for any college student.

In other words, this young woman could easily have lost the chance to pass the class (while, nevertheless on the hook for paying for it because she misplaced her ID one morning and goes to a school that refuses any other means than $10 to verify that she is in fact a student at the school. Had she been allowed to log in to Blackboard or on her phone or on a computer in the lobby, the security guards could have easily verified her status and purpose.

Talking to her, I had a tremendous sense of deja-vu. This policy is a policy that creates problems for our students by solving a problem for…whom exactly? Security? Administrators? Who? And then it hit me. We’ve seen this one before. And I wrote about it before. So I went back and found my post about the last time this happened, and re-read it, and found that EVERY SINGLE CRITICISM  applies now. Was SGA involved? Was Faculty Council (hint: No)? Is there data supporting broad HWC community desire for this policy (or some other reason–legal, safety (has there been a spike in thefts by unidentifiable visitors?)? Is this the plan to make up for the service-sucking state-budget-created black hole of a problem one Hamilton at a time? What problem is it solving and for whom? Who knows? So, why now? Good question.

Last time, in September of 2014, Margie “postponed the implementation of charging $10” for people without their ID. I guess that “postponement” ended the first week in February. But it’s not any less of a stupid policy. My student got her make-up exam and an apology from me for a school policy that made an already difficult and challenging day much much harder. That seems like the opposite of what our HWC values and aims are.

I just don’t get why this is a thing.

FourSee Faculty Post: Reinvention 5-Year Data

Posted on behalf of Michael Heathfield and FourSee Math Faculty:


Here is a very disturbing graphic that will not be appearing at a Board Meeting anytime soon.  It paints a dramatic picture of what Reinvention has delivered for some of our students, communities, colleges and colleagues. Does it look good to you?

FTE Change







Some wiser heads predict this picture will get even more disturbing once fall 2016 registrations are factored into the frame.  Campus Zero is quick to ascribe falling enrollment to a recovering economy and improved employment. Of course, it would be heresy at Campus Zero to refer them to solid statistical evidence that for the middle class, the working class, and the poor the “recovery” did not indeed lift them up to where they were before the Great Recession.  These R words cover a mass of complexity, which is an anathema to the political class. These are dangerous blanket words in the wrong hands: Recession, Recovery, Reinvention and, lest we forget at our peril, Recruitment and Retention.







Mike Heathfield & Math FourSee faculty

Campus Zero Campus Woes

Posted on behalf of Michael Heathfield and FourSee Faculty

Campus Zero Campus Woes

FourSeeYou can’t take the context out of the college, whatever your status, you really can’t. Let’s just say life just got a whole lot tougher for Rahm’s crew at Campus Zero.  The ballot box dispatched Anita Alvarez faster than it takes for a college president to get a master’s degree!  Who knows whether the CZ crew will just double down on some disastrous decisions made of late or join with students and faculty as stakeholders with considerable expertise, opinions and power.

In my last post I asked my top ten questions.  Needless to say, there have been no responses from people with the data at Campus Zero.  It’s strange how data disappears when more challenging questions are asked of it. Of course, some is buried deep in the hope it doesn’t see the light of day. Some, if very politically inconvenient, is ignored and the PR lights move onto the latest glittery distraction.

It may also be true, since these things are rarely exclusive, that the best minds at Campus Zero do not fully understand the consequences, assumptions, and miscalculations in their policy decisions. It is very difficult to impute intentions when so very little of substance is provided for public debate and dialogue.  I get it as a political and management strategy. I really don’t get it as an academic strategy that should embed itself firmly in students, teaching and learning – these are primary drivers of all we do.

Everyone at CCC, including the CZ crew, exists on this simple foundation of students, teaching and learning.  Nothing around it exists without this trilogy. We are not a research institution; no one gets paid based on the amount and impact of faculty publications.  Postgraduate students don’t do the bulk of frontline teaching and grading work while stellar academics do the occasional star performances in huge lecture halls.  This is not who we are or what we do. So maybe I need to be clearer in my intent – when I ask questions of Campus Zero initiatives that are built upon our crucial foundations. Public education is exactly what is says, public. So private decision making and shutting down discourse is not the context in which we exist.

The Chancellor has publicly said she doesn’t care about recruitment – only retention and graduations.  Now, I have never been a full subscriber to the “logic model” approach to education, but surely you can’t have any outcomes that don’t have a relationship to inputs?  This has never been truer when you look, for example, at the quiet crises unfolding at Kennedy-King and Olive Harvey, where recruitment is significantly down over the past five years. Full-time faculty at Olive has been struggling to make load and have already been shuttling off to other campuses. I have seen nothing to convince me that, when finally complete, the new logistics and distribution center is going to lift everyone up together.

What will happen to declining numbers at Kennedy-King when Social Work and Addiction Studies transition to Malcolm X as planned?  Despite being the first-ever winner of the Aspen Award, Kennedy-King also stands as a stark rebuttal of the mantra, “If you build it, they will come”.

So tell me again why we are pulling Child Development programs from these important south side colleges?  How do we support our important colleagues as community disinvestment continues to surround them?

When the CZ crew makes a $21 million hole in the operating budget, by over-estimating how many students they can “incentivize” to become full-time, do we think budget impacts will be distributed with equity?  The differing states and fates of our vital seven colleges are intrinsically tied to broader social issues that raise Chicago’s profile on the national stage in very unflattering ways.

I live in Edgewater, very near Truman College, soon to be another north side recipient of capital and human investment as Child Development programs leave HWC and their south and west side neighborhoods. I can walk to my new 2013 library, next to my new Wholefoods, while I live right next to my new Mariano’s. What is happening here?

Chicago remains a very divided city.  The only resource that is shared with grace and equity from north to south is the lakefront.  Step away from there and you will enter different worlds that tragically demonstrate how politically controlled public resources are riddled with injustices.  Compare my Edgewater Library to the Woodson Regional Library, home to the Vivian G. Harsh Research Collection of Afro-American History and Literature. The façade of the Woodson has been surrounded by scaffolding for fourteen years. The Woodson is in the Washington Heights neighborhood. Yes, fourteen years.

When taxpayer resources are distributed with such disregard for equity, justice, and accountability – public servants must expect to be called to account. Questions and answers can be very challenging.  As Alvarez discovered, Chicago residents can deliver a very firm answer when public officials, and their decisions, are aired in public. National attention is trained on Chicago because of what elected officials and their chosen public servants are doing.  This is the context in which political decisions are being made. Public debate is essential, however painful or uncomfortable it may be. Community college policy decisions, by political appointees, are on the agenda and no amount of “business as usual” will shift this gaze.

— Mike Heathfield for FourSee faculty



A Call for Partners in Resistance: Amanda Loos Published in Praxis

Check it HERE

One particularly good part:

Why this is about social justice, and not just another love-hate quarrel between faculty and administration
The corporatizing of higher education is a national epidemic; community colleges are especially susceptible given their history as vocational institutions and the common misperception that this is their sole mission in a capitalist economy. While my colleagues and I have grown exhausted resisting its detrimental effects in and out of the classroom, CCC Administration and Board seem to have fully embraced a business model, failing to work with a willing faculty body as partners in self-reflection and change rather than steamrolling a “degrees of economic value” agenda.

And there is a great deal at stake.

By isolating programs geographically, CCC is continuing Chicago’s legacy of further disenfranchising already marginalized communities. The no confidence resolution issued by District Wide Faculty Council (FC4) emphasizes a fundamental disagreement between the Board/Chancellor and faculty on the mission of CC’s. It backs away from saying (though my colleagues have said it elsewhere) that these decisions reinforce Chicago’s racial, class, language, and gender divisions and segregation…

It doesn’t have to be this way – in fact, just the opposite. By meeting a basic right of access to education and, by extension, earning power, critical thinking, communication and problem-solving skills – CC’s can be a space where students become more aware of their own agency and empowered to resist systemic oppressions.

The potential for social justice extends far beyond personal/individual goal-attainment.

Read the rest. It’s worth the effort. I feel so proud and lucky to be her colleague.

Is This Seat Taken: A Clarification and UPDATE

In my last post, I suggested that the District Office had not included faculty in their process for consolidating and revising the Policy Manuals and that neglecting to do so had led to substantive problems in the proposed revisions. That is not, however, entirely and strictly true, and so I am writing this in order to correct some factual omissions in my previous post.

Last week, I learned that our District-Wide Faculty Council (FC4) has been aware of and involved in the project to revise and consolidate the policy manuals. Rasmus told me that back in July, in his first meeting with the new FC4 leadership, he told them of the project and invited them to work with him on it. FC4 put together a committee of faculty from around the district, which they expect to make a standing committee, and the committee reviewed the draft revisions and provided extensive feedback. Rasmus referred to the faculty involvement in the policy revision/development as “unprecedented,” which is certainly true with respect to policy changes of the last fifteen years or so under Chancellors Watson and Hyman until now, anyway.

(DIGRESSION: Perhaps some of our friends with longer institutional memories than mine can say whether or not faculty involvement in policy changes has always occurred from the outside looking in. I can remember various policies being championed by individual faculty members–I think it was Bill Muzillo (HWC English) who proposed and shepherded through the historic change to benefits recognition for same-sex partners back around 2001 or so? I’m sure there were others; I know that the union has had considerable influence on academic policy over the years, too, though I recognize the differences between those situations and this project. So, maybe its “unprecedented” because there hasn’t been a project like this until the last 15 years or so? Anybody know more? END)

So, I was wrong to suggest that faculty had been left out of the process of this revision; what’s worse is that I could have probably accessed that information without too much difficulty and I should have. Apologies to our district colleagues for the misrepresentation and factual error.

With that said, you might be wondering, like I did, about the faculty input and the response to it. I was told by both Rasmus and Charles Ansell that faculty “had tons of feedback incorporated into [the] policy manual.” So I asked.

The FC4 leadership was kind enough to share with me their original report on the policy draft which featured concerns or questions (or both) about 14 different policies (some of which had multiple concerns/questions). At the top of the document is a statement that reads,

District officers, When the discussion first began regarding the creation of a combined policy manual for all stakeholders of the district, it was this committee’s understanding that this revision was not to include any substantive changes. The items listed below are of concern to this committee and the concern has been indicated. As a standing committee of FC4, we would be happy to work to vet changes to these items in the future, but do not believe that the changes should be put forth without the appropriate conversations that include faculty. Let us know what next steps we can expect.

To which the district officers responded,

Noted. We look forward to working collaboratively. We may not always agree on what constitutes a substantive change. We very much appreciate the time and effort the FC4 team has put into reviewing the draft documents and preparing this feedback.

The FC4 Committee’s document then identifies questions or concerns about 14 different policies,  (some with multiple questions/concerns). Various district officers then responded with answers to questions and agreement with/rejection of revision suggestions, with explanations for the latter.

Of the original 20 or so questions/concerns noted, five suggestions were incorporated without qualification; they were:

~A change on the cover page about the office from which the policy is issued;

~The removal of a table from the document deemed unnecessary;

~Moving a paragraph about grade changes from the policy manual to the procedures manual

~Adding “Fellowship” to PTK criteria;

~Clarifying and updating procedures for program sunsetting.

As you can see, these are almost all format or language issues–important, for sure–but NONE of them entail making actual changes to the proposed policies.

Of the other 15 or so concerns, one proposed policy change related to graduate credit for hours awarded for Tenure Process requirements was changed back, pending “further vetting of this issue.” The proposed policy was to offer 2 graduate credit hours toward lane change, rather than the current 4 hours, for participation in the Orientation and first year seminar “because it more accurately reflects the Carnegie unit (credit hour).”  Two other concerns and suggested revisions were rejected with explanations that were accepted by the FC4 Committee, and one other (about summer office hours) was tabled because they “are looking into this question.” Some of remaining questions became moot points on account of the above.

That leaves five major issues. They are:

~Policy 2.04: The use of ACT and SAT scores for placement into classes other than English 101; District stated that CCC currently uses these scores for placement, and “we anticipate continuing this process;” FC4 responded by reiterating that “This is NOT a valid use of this tool, as the tests’ own websites attest…Using ACT and SAT scores to place students into developmental classes is not a valid use of these tools. This practice does a grave disservice to our students. Do we really need to keep having this argument?”

~Policy 2.09 & 2.10: The awarding of credit for CLEP, ACTFL, AP, and IB scores: in response to questions about the determination of the guidelines and alignment with other institutions, district responded that there is no change to the CLEP, ACTFL or AP policy and that faculty had two months to review/provide feedback on the IB scores and faculty input was incorporated. FC4 did not recognize this answer as being a valid one. (I can attest, though, that this effort was made by the DO. On August 28th, Autym Henderson (Coordinator of Academic Processes) sent an email to Department Chairs saying, “The City Colleges of Chicago will be establishing a policy regarding the acceptance of IB credit. A SharePoint site with a wealth of information on various IB coursework has been created – we encourage you to visit the site, review the information and provide feedback specific to your discipline by Friday, October 23rd. We will review all feedback and incorporate your input where possible.” My chair forwarded that to our department and we reviewed and responded with feedback (or, at least, I did). Obviously not all Chairs did the same. Perhaps a different method could be used in the future.)

~Policy 4.10: Regarding the Consortium Agreement: FC4 asked whether HLC has approved the agreement. DO responded that HLC has “seen a draft” and that “informal conversations have been held” and that “HLC seems open to the type of agreement we seek, but more details are to be worked out.” The committee’s response was as follows:

“HLC requires that such a consortial arrangement (one in which the consortial partners may award more than 50% of the credits for the home college’s degree) receive prior approval from HLC before implementing any such arrangement. This consortial agreement has been illegitimately included in Board policy for some time, and it must be removed until HLC has granted approval. The Commission makes clear that the substantive change  desired by District Office requires a “formal approval…by a Commission decision-making body” and “in no case will such approval be retroactive.” In addition to removing Policy 4.10 pending formal approval, we ask that District please inform FC4 with whom they’ve held “informal discussions,” supply FC4 with a copy of the draft Agreement, and apprise FC4 of the “details…yet to be worked out.” Such a monumental change (as is recognized by HLC) necessitates careful, thoughtful review prior to implementation; certainly CCC Faculty Council must be involved.”

~Policy 10.23: Regarding faculty participation in future changes to the Tenure Process: the new manual removes a sentence from the current policy. Current policy states, “Changes to the Talents of Teaching, the Tenure Assistance Program, tenure rubrics or other changes to the tenure process will be a collaborative process with the mutual agreement of District Academic Affairs and the district-wide Faculty Council.” The removal of this sentence was noted by FC4, but not addressed at all by the District Officers. Consequently, FC4 reiterated, “We find it completely unacceptable that DO has removed the line stating that changes to the tenure process will be determined collaboratively with FC4 and the Policy Committee feels we must push back on that.” They even include a proposal that “Perhaps we could have an understanding that the TAP Team (TAP Leaders and coordinator) are delegated by FC4 to approve changes on FC4’s behalf, but something has to be in place to ensure faculty approval of major changes.”

~Policy 10.32: Mandating participation in the Early Alert Attendance and Early Alert Progress Report Campaigns (i.e., Grades First Use). FC4 asked when this was vetted through FC4, noting that this policy constitutes an addition to current policy. DO responded, writing:

The early alert process (GradesFirst campaigns) serves to identify students early in the term who may be struggling or need support. Alerts and the resulting support are key components toward our shared goal of maximizing positive student outcomes. This new policy was vetted by VPs and Deans, and it was patterned after the existing learning management system (Blackboard) policy. The addition of this new policy is considered a high priority.

So, in other words, it was NOT vetted through FC4 and (arguably) constitutes a change/imposition in working conditions. FC4’s response was right on the money, I think; they write,

Many concerns have been raised and this committee respectfully requests that this policy not be included at this time until it is vetted through FC4 with a good faith effort toward shared governance.  This committee would like to see data supporting the usefulness and effectiveness for student retention versus a control for multiple courses. DO is saying it is of high importance but who has determined that?

The week 1 requirement is a problem. If the student is not showing up they will be assigned NSW and the early alert then becomes irrelevant. The instructor does not have to reinstate the student.

Additionally, ordering faculty to use a particular software tool and requiring “at a minimum” faculty to submit feedback each semester is top-down management at its worst. Not only were faculty not included in any discussion, but the vagueness of the dictate is careless at best  (“at a minimum” and “faculty will be notified if college requirements exceed minimum expectations”). This is not only disrespectful treatment of faculty, but it is likely a CBA/Union issue. We ask that you remove this section or make it fully optional.

So, if you’re keeping score, that’s five suggestions incorporated (all minor format/language related) a handful that were delayed or resolved, and five that were rejected and continue to concern FC4, including mandatory use of Grades First, which is “a high priority” and, apparently, NOT a “substantive revision.”

So, I’ll leave you with the question: is this what “shared governance” looks like?

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:


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 ( and Eugene Munin ( The next board meeting is February 4th.

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.


Non-Random Readings: Calculating the Value of College

From this week’s New Yorker and just in time for the September board meeting comes a timely review of the arguments made on behalf of (and against) various theories of the value of a college degree, which in one writer’s estimation lead to a conclusion similar to the one we’ve been trying to make in various ways since 2010:

Perhaps the strongest argument for caring about higher education is that it can increase social mobility, regardless of whether the human-capital theory or the signalling theory is correct. A recent study by researchers at the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco showed that children who are born into households in the poorest fifth of the income distribution are six times as likely to reach the top fifth if they graduate from college. Providing access to college for more kids from deprived backgrounds helps nurture talents that might otherwise go to waste, and it’s the right thing to do. (Of course, if college attendance were practically universal, having a degree would send a weaker signal to employers.) But increasing the number of graduates seems unlikely to reverse the over-all decline of high-paying jobs, and it won’t resolve the income-inequality problem, either. As the economist Lawrence Summers and two colleagues showed in a recent simulation, even if we magically summoned up college degrees for a tenth of all the working-age American men who don’t have them—by historical standards, a big boost in college-graduation rates—we’d scarcely change the existing concentration of income at the very top of the earnings distribution, where C.E.O.s and hedge-fund managers live.

Being more realistic about the role that college degrees play would help families and politicians make better choices. It could also help us appreciate the actual merits of a traditional broad-based education, often called a liberal-arts education, rather than trying to reduce everything to an economic cost-benefit analysis. “To be clear, the idea is not that there will be a big financial payoff to a liberal arts degree,” Cappelli writes. “It is that there is no guarantee of a payoff from very practical, work-based degrees either, yet that is all those degrees promise. For liberal arts, the claim is different and seems more accurate, that it will enrich your life and provide lessons that extend beyond any individual job. There are centuries of experience providing support for that notion.” 

Read the rest to see how he got there…

Another Response from an Expert on the Child Development Program

HWC Superstar and Child Development faculty member Jen Asimow has, in the spirit of her colleague’s thoughtful and excellent response to the initial meeting and announcement of the “plan,” has taken some time to detail her thoughts about the official announcement through annotation of that announcement. You’ll find her writing in italics. She asked me to post it here, and I am happy to oblige.

As a member of the Child Development faculty at Harold Washington College, I am writing this response to the following announcement.  My comments are in blue italics after each section.

This response is not meant in any way to be disrespectful to the writer of this announcement.  We know that the administration of CCC work under very different conditions than faculty and cannot possibly say what they want or believe.  They serve at the “largesse” of the Chancellor, so they can in no way speak out against her or the people who work for her.  I have absolutely no doubt that the administrators at any of the affected campuses do not think that this decision is a good idea, do not believe that it serves students, or that it will be good now or in the future for the City Colleges as a whole. 


Faculty and staff:

We are writing to inform you about important changes in City Colleges of Chicago (CCC)’s Child Development and Education programs as we continue the implementation of the College to Careers (C2C) initiative.

Background:  City Colleges’ C2C initiative is designed to ensure our educational programs fully prepare students for the demands of employers and transfer universities so they can seize one of the more than 600,000 jobs coming to the Chicago region in high-demand careers over the next decade.  We do this through partnerships with employers and four-year universities who not only help design our programs but also provide our students with internships, employment and transfer opportunities.  Additionally, we ensure our curriculum is relevant to real-world expectations, and we invest in faculty and staff, equipment and facilities to make sure students have access to the best education available.


The City Colleges has for years (its entire existence prior to Reinvention and the C2C initiative) committed itself to investing in faculty and staff, equipment and facilities to ensure that students have the best education possible.  This is not new to this initiative and the insinuation is misleading and unfair to all of those who spent their careers working for City College’s students in years past.  In addition, partnerships with four-year universities have existed since the beginning as well. This is nothing new.  In Child Development, we have forged partnerships throughout the city and surrounding areas over the years, by ourselves, without the help or support of district initiatives.


Each of our seven colleges serves as the official home for a C2C focus area. Last year, Harry S Truman College was designated as the C2C hub for Education, Human and Natural Sciences.

Action:  There will be a phased transition of Child Development and Education programs to Harry S Truman College.

Rationale: To better serve students by bringing together district wide faculty and staff under one roof, into one hub.   Specifically:

  • Consolidate our investments and gain efficiencies to better support our students.


I do not know how this is more “efficient.” Since when is asking people, both faculty and students, to spend more time commuting, efficient?  Consolidation is not a good thing either.  It minimizes diversity of thought, which is necessary to move systems forward. It centralizes talent, rather than spreading it out where it is needed and it takes access away from the vast majority of communities in our city.  I am not sure what “consolidate our investments” means.  The only district investment in the Child Development Program is the faculty.  Unlike nursing, or the medical degrees which require expensive laboratories and equipment, the cost of the Child Development program is no different if we are all at one campus or several.  Yes, we are all accredited, which has an additional cost, but national accreditation is an investment in the programs that is minimal.  Consolidating us as people is a terrible idea.  Cutting off our ability to work in communities where our students live and learn does not gain efficiency and it most definitely does not better support our students.  In fact, it does exactly the opposite.


  • Concentrate our resources to provide students with access to excellent facilities and strong partners.  The partner list includes: Chicago Public Schools, Jewish Council for Youth Services, and Christopher House, who are among the nearly 50 employer partners who have hired CCC students for education-related jobs this fiscal year.  Some of our transfer partners in Education include: University of Illinois at Chicago, National Louis University and others.


The entire paragraph above is misleading.  In my opinion, the facility at Truman is far from excellent, relative to the relatively new campus at HWC, KK, and soon-to-be open M).  Currently the Truman campus is fine, much like the old MX; the bathrooms could use an update, and the child development lab school should probably be completely rebuilt. They currently do not have a wonderful teaching lab, as we do at HWC.  Perhaps there are plans for updating Truman College.  I am not sure about that and I would welcome that if we were to move there.  However, in its current state, it is not the excellent facility they are claiming it to be.

The “partnerships” described above are also not quite accurate.  Over the past 15 years at HWC, I have developed partners with 10 times the few mentioned above.  Each of the 5 affected campuses has done the same.  What will happen is that all of those wonderful partnerships will dissolve, and only those few partnerships on the north side will remain. 

The transfer partner list is also extremely misleading.  Over the past 2 years, several of the Child Development faculty, myself included, has worked on articulation agreements with four-year universities.  This work was funded by the Early Learning Challenge Grant, which came to higher ed in Illinois via Race to the Top funds.  The district office agreed to allow us to partner with these universities, and signed MOUs about our involvement. The new partnership with UIC is the result of 15 years of my work with UIC.  That work was between HWC and UIC, even though we all agreed that any agreements would be for all of the colleges (the more the merrier!)  To insinuate that this partnership has anything to do with the consolidation with Truman College is false.  Our relationship with National-Louis has existed far longer than my tenure at CCC.  What isn’t mentioned is that Daley College worked for the past 2 years to develop a partnership with Xavier College.  Now that partnership is signed, it is essentially useless, as Xavier chose Daley because of its proximity.  This is also true for a partnership with Roosevelt and HWC.  Again, the work was based on proximity to local campuses.  To claim that these partnerships have anything to do with this decision is false.

Here is a current list of my child care partnerships at HWC:

Cook County Child Care Center

Concordia Place

Rainbow Daycare

Loop Learning Center

YMCA of Evanston

Carole Robsertson Center for Learning

Taylor Center

The Children’s Center

Downtown Learning Center

Marcy Newberry Association

Paolo Freire Center

Chicago Public School

State of Illinois Child Care Center

St. Vincent de Paul

The Nia Center

Guadalupano Child Care Center

Chinese American Service League

Christopher House

Bridgeport Child Development Center

Children’s Home and Aid Society

The list goes on and on.  These are just a few off the top of my head. This is a much more interesting list than the partial list provided in the announcement.  . These partnerships span the city, serve diverse populations, and provide on-site field placements for our students.  Now multiply that list by 5 and that is what is being lost at the expense of this consolidation


Child Development and Education Programs Transition

Beginning in the fall of 2016, Harry S Truman College will house City Colleges’ Child Development and Education programs as part of its College to Careers emphasis on education, human and natural sciences.

  • Programs transitioning to Truman are:

o   Basic Certificate (BC) in Child Development Pre-school

o   Basic Certificate (BC) in Family Child Care Business

o   Advanced Certificate (AC) in Child Development Pre-school

o   Advanced Certificate (AC) in Child Development and Infant Toddler

o   Associate in Applied Science (AAS) in Child Development Pre-school

  • Additionally, the BC, AC, and AAS in Social Work will be consolidated over time into a new AA (transfer pathway) in Social Work to be offered at Truman College, because the industry is moving to requiring a bachelor’s degree so this will help ensure our students have a credential that corresponds to job market demands.
  • Students enrolled in Child Development and Education at Daley, Harold Washington, Kennedy-King, Malcolm X and Olive-Harvey Colleges will continue their programs at their current colleges through the end of the spring 2016 semester.
  • New incoming students will be able to begin their Child Development and Education programs studies at Truman College for the fall 2016 and spring 2017 semesters.


Should we send them there? 


  • At the end of spring 2016, all students in Child Development and Education at Daley, Harold Washington, Kennedy-King, Malcolm X, and Olive-Harvey Colleges who have not completed their Child Development certificate or degree must transition to Truman College to complete their program. Students should work with their advisor at the beginning of the spring 2016 semester to plan for this transition.


It is my understanding that as a part of a legitimate “teach out” and “sun setting” of programs, HLC requires adequate time for students to complete their program or certificate.  I am confident that means that students who enrolled this summer, before the announcement at any of the affected campuses, have more time than what is indicated above..  Forcing them to move earlier is contrary to our accreditation. For more information about a Teach-Out Plan, see:


  • Child Development 101 and 102 will continue to be offered as part of the Addiction Studies pathway at Kennedy-King College and the Occupational Therapy Assistant pathway at Malcolm X College.


This is one of those decisions that remind us of how little the district understands our work.  The Human Development series is a much sought-after requirement for many programs and for transfer.  Limiting access to these courses will result in students having to go elsewhere for these prerequisites into Nursing School, Med School, Physical Therapy School, etc.  Here, I am not referring to the programs that will be available at MX.


No faculty or staff positions will be eliminated as a result of this change.


This too, is a very simplistic view with a lot of “maybes” and “best-case scenarios.”  I know that the focus here is not about the adjunct faculty, but we at HWC have adjuncts who have served our students for almost as long as I have and longer than both of the other full-time faculty members.  They bring their expertise to the classroom as professionals who are on the front lines, in the field.  This loss is monumental. 

However, I believe that the above statement refers to full-time faculty.

Let’s take a look at the numbers.  We currently have 16 full-time Child Development faculty members.  In order to have enough classes so that each of us can teach a full load, Truman will have to grow exponentially in the next year. 

This semester, Truman College is offering 23 sections of Child Development Courses = 81 credits. This is the equivalent of just about 5 full-time faculty.

In order to keep us all, they will have to fill about 80 sections of Child Development Courses. = 240 credits.

This is fifth grade math.  Even I can do it.  It is clear that there will be RIFs, so saying that there will not is their way of keeping everyone calm. Of course, the first to go will be the handful of untenured faculty in the program.  What a loss.

Now, let’s look at this another way.  This semester Olive-Harvey is offering 17 sections of Child Development Courses.  If those courses fill at a 60% rate, they will have about 400 child development students this semester.  Now, let’s assume that a rather large number of these are duplicated students (sitting in more than 1 child development class).  If we consider that about half are duplicated, that leaves about 200 students who are in the Child Development program at Olive –Harvey this semester.  Those students also take English, Math, Humanities, Social Sciences, and so on.  If you take away their reason for going to Olive-Harvey, Olive-Harvey’s enrollment will drop. Over the long term, this could mean the loss of jobs in every department.  This is not an extreme view or a conspiratorial one; it is simply a fact.  Everyone should sit up and take notice of this.  This isn’t just about Child Development.  It is about education for all in an institution that is supposed to be serving all.



All locations are accessible through public transportation, the CCC shuttle service, or both, so students should be able to access the campus no matter where they are coming from. The Truman campus is easily accessible by the CTA Red Line – it comes right to Truman’s doorstep – and the CTA 78-Montrose bus line as well as being within a short walking distance of other bus routes.


This is where the rubber meets the road (excuse the pun).  There is NO WAY that the busing system provided by CCC or the CTA can make this happen.

If you look at the CCC website under Shuttle Service, you will see how the current schedule and routes move and how they currently don’t even serve to Truman College.  There are some that go to the Red Line, which goes to Truman, and perhaps there is a plan to develop a more comprehensive busing system to unnecessarily move students around the city, but as of today, the Shuttle Service does not address the needs of students who are being forced to “consolidate.”

So, I moved on to the CTA. I just spent a couple of hours on their website and this is what I found.

Daley – Truman16.9 Miles In order to arrive at Truman by 6:30 Take 2 buses and a train Cost $4.50 Total Travel Time = 1 hr. and 28 minutes
Daley – Truman16.9 Miles In order to arrive at Truman by 9:30 Take 2 buses and a train Cost $4.50 Total Travel Time = 1 hr. and 26 minutes
Olive-Harvey – Truman19.2 miles In order to arrive at Truman by 6:30 Take 2 buses and a train Cost $4.50 Total Travel Time = 1 hr. and 28 minutes
Olive-Harvey – Truman19.2 miles In order to arrive at Truman by 9:30 Take 2 buses and a train Cost $4.50 Total Travel Time = 1 hr. and 24 minutes
HWC – Truman College5.9 miles In order to arrive at Truman by 6:30 Take 1 train Cost $2.25 Total Travel Time = 29 minutes
HWC – Truman College5.9 miles In order to arrive at Truman by 9:30 Take 1 train Cost $2.25 Total Travel Time = 29 minutes
Malcolm X – Truman College8.7 miles In order to arrive at Truman by 6:30 Take 2 trains Cost $4.50 Total Travel Time = 54 minutes
Malcolm X – Truman College8.7 miles In order to arrive at Truman by 9:30 Take 2 trains Cost $4.50 Total Travel Time = 53 minutes
Kennedy King – Truman College14 miles In order to arrive at Truman by 6:30 Take 1 train Cost $ 2.25 Total Travel Time = 55 minutes
Kennedy King – Truman College14 miles In order to arrive at Truman by 9:30 Take 1 train Cost $ 2.25 Total Travel Time = 55 minutes


I chose 9:30 and 6PM as arrival times for Truman as those are the most traditional times classes are offered for day and evening students.  These are just examples, but you understand our concern. 

-If a student leaves work at 5 PM (not unusual for a working person) and wants to get to a 6PM class, it will be impossible if that student is near Daley or OH.  It will be nearly impossible if that student is coming from MX or KK.  If that student is coming from HWC, she might make it.  All of these calculations are based on students who are already on these campuses.  Most students will be coming from other places.  This will add time to their commutes.  The above CTA calculations are “best-case scenario.”  I have been commuting on the CTA for my entire adult life.  If the schedule says that I need 38 minutes for my commute, I plan at least an hour.  We all know this to be true.  This is ALL dependent on the buses and the trains running on schedule, that the student does not need to eat or go to the bathroom, or attend to any other adult life responsibilities.

-Students who attend morning classes will no longer be able to get their own children safely to school.  There won’t be enough time.

-Students who attend afternoon classes will not be able to get back into their own neighborhoods to pick up their children from school.  There won’t be enough time.

-Students will have to pay for additional childcare for their own children so the extra hours required to travel to and from school are covered.

-This “consolidation” will force students to spend less time with their own families, at work, or doing homework.


It is my belief that this model is untenable.  These students will not be able to make this transition and the City Colleges will lose them. 

Moreover, the city will lose good people who want to become teachers, but won’t be able to because of the aforementioned (and many other) problems.


This transition represents a unique opportunity for all our Child Development students, faculty and staff to be associated with best-in-class programs, helping to ensure all students are prepared to reach their goals – whether those goals are to transfer to a four-year university or to move immediately into an in-demand career.


This is not an opportunity, nor is it unique (do you remember the Nursing consolidation?)  This is a loss of opportunity.  There is nothing in this plan that improves our already accredited and excellent programs.  It reduces them.

We have been helping students reach their goals for years and years.  Don’t insinuate that this is somehow an improvement – it is not.


A similar communication has been shared with students.  A list of Frequently Asked Questions is attached to this email.


For any additional questions about this transition, please contact Peggy Korellis, Dean of C2C at Truman College, or 773-907-4321.


For questions or concerns about my responses, please feel free to contact me at



Child Development Reruns: Haven’t We Seen This Movie Before?

And no, I’m not referring to this:

If you were around in 2011, you might remember that this proposal has been floated before, and the last time it was, it ended with good news for those who opposed it and the then-Hand of the Chancellor (Alvin Bisarya) saying they “learned a lot from working on the Child Development program, specifically that faculty need to be involved from the beginning, the recommendations should NOT be presented as “a fait accompli” and that faculty should be considered  “experts” in their respective fields.”

(sigh) I guess the new leadership needs to learn the lesson for themselves?

So we have a “new” proposal of a previously proposed (and rejected) idea. What’s changed? Well, last time their proposal was aimed at the degrees being offered, rather than the location of the offerings, and it was rationalized on the basis of market-place requirements. These elements are still part of the current proposal (despite the fact that what amounts to a curriculum change is (or should) STILL be an area of faculty purview and so subject to their approval). This time, though, that bit isn’t the rationale–investment efficiency is, and “the pooling of talent.” They want to spend more on Child Development, it seems, but they just can’t (insert tear squirting emoticon) because these programs are all spread out…with this move they’ll be able to provide computers and space upgrades and, and…equipment! Like what, you may ask? Swings? Robot children? MRI machines? I don’t know. I’d like to know what equipment that CD faculty want but can’t get without “economies of scale” that will magically exist within one college but not across the district as a whole. What could it be? And never mind that Child Development faculty are probably the most collaborative group of educators in the system! Is there any other discipline that has worked as much or as well across college lines than them? None that I know of. So what problem does this solve? Seems to me like it solves a management problem (“A place for everything and everything in its place!“); never mind the problems that it creates for the others.

Imagine if the Cubs announced that instead of having their talent scouts and instructional coaches spread out around the country and world, they wanted to “pool their talent” in one location to “improve their investment” by giving them more equipment like “computers and space upgrades” (which means what? I don’t know–unfortunately that is not a question frequently asked, apparently). Would anyone think that the team’s ability to find and develop talent has been enhanced by such a move?

What if a company with seven subsidiary companies said, we need to pool the seven sales (or HR or legal or whatever) teams, even though they serve different regions and have different histories and markets , into one department, forcing employees/customers/whomever to travel long distances to get help. Does anyone genuinely believe that such a move would enhance the experience for the people who actually need services? Whom would it help other than the management whose job would be simplified at the expense of those who actually need services?

I mean the argument they have offered is so bad, that I genuinely can’t believe that THEY believe it. I hope not. So, is Rasmus just going through old files of his predecessors to finish what they started? Has this Zombie idea been walking around 226 W. Jackson for four years waiting for “the right moment”–when everyone was annoyed and distracted by other, even more broadly damaging initiatives, like the (deliberate?) discouragement of part-time students? Are they running out of ideas?

What the hell?