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

 

 

College Night at The Goodman: Disgraced

Sam the Intern writes with the following information:Disgrace Flier

My name is Sam S., the marketing intern at the Goodman Theatre. With our season starting up, the Goodman would like to invite you to attend our upcoming College Night for our show Disgraced on Tuesday September 29th starting at 6PM. Join us for pizza, a discussion with actor Behzad Dabu, and a performance of this straight from Broadway play all for $10!

Click here for a PDF version of the flier if you’d like to hang one in your class or office.

Otherwise, help spread the word!

 

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…

Website Wednesday: New Rambler

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.

 

The New Rambler is my favorite kind of book review site–the kind where I leave feeling smarter. It’s funded by the University of Chicago law school, but it publishes book reviews on more than legal issues. Their own samuel_johnsondescription of it is as follows: “The New Rambler publishes reviews of books about ideas, including literary fiction. It takes its name from Samuel Johnson’s periodical, The Rambler.” (Yes, that’s a picture of Samuel Johnson there, reading away.)

The reviews cover books on Social Science, International Relations, Business, Political Science, Public Law, Legal Theory, Law and Politics, History, Religion, Literature, Philosophy, Psychology, the Arts and Humanities, and Science, as well as Middle East Studies, Gender and Sexuality, Film and Media Studies, Journalism, and more, all easily searchable by category.

Best is the fact that the reviews are so well written, that by the end of them, I feel like I have read the book (and almost certainly know more about the subject than I would have if I had ONLY read the book). Scroll through the reviews on the first page and see if there’s something that grabs your interest. I bet there will be…

Hot Take on the New Bookstore

So, I’m a fan. I helped a couple of students work through the process during registration, and I liked what I saw.

I like the look of the interface, I like that students can use their financial aid vouchers and buy their books with a click or two. As a faculty member, I like being able to snoop into the reading lists of other classes (both other philosophy classes at other colleges and across departments at our own) without having to use the clunky PeopleSoft thing. And, best of all, I like not sending our students to a bookstore that I thought was ripping them off, even for used books. I always liked Hector and found him helpful, but the prices at Beck’s were frequently outrageous.

So, in short, it seems like a big improvement. Kudos to anyone and everyone involved with the decision.

On the delta side of things, I (and another colleague) have noted that WAY fewer students have their texts in hand on the first day of class than when there was a physical bookstore. I have a theory as to why. When students have selected their books and are checking out, they get three options for shipping (Expedited, Standard, and something else) and each shows a range of dates. The range, though, is not standard. So the expedited option one might say, expected arrival 8/26-8/29 and cost $52 in shipping, while the standard option said the expected arrival was 8/28 to 9/6, but only cost $15. The student, then chose the standard option and said, “Well, it’s way less, and it’s only two days later.” In other words, she only looked at the first number of the range, rather than considering the possibility that she might be waiting for her books until almost the third week of class. After we talked about it, she said, “It all comes out of my aid, right?” and I nodded and she selected “Expedited.” I know to double check the second date of that range because I have messed up so many times on my own orders. Even though I buy a lot of used books on Amazon, even now I end up sometimes hoping to get them in a certain time frame and grinding my teeth for misreading the shipping information.

It’ll be interesting to watch how this plays out and whether (as I fear) many students, even more than usual, will have to struggle through the first few weeks of class while waiting for books to arrive.

I have also found it interesting to watch as the prices and used/marketplace book availability fluctuates from day to day. Four days ago, a book for one of my classes (one I hoped to start with) was only available as New ($28) and it said, “On Backorder 1-2 Weeks.” But when I looked on Sunday, there were copies available under “Used” and “Marketplace” that were half the price of the new one. Then today, it only shows New as available and it is listed again on backorder. So, a student who times their order right, can save a lot of money. Possibly.

That’s what I’ve noticed anyway. Anyone else?

 

 

Assessment Committee Request

Jen Asimow, friend of the Lounge (and me) and Chair of the Assessment Committee this semester, asked if I would post the following letter. For those who don’t have the full background, I hope to get another post up some time after I’ve finished midterm grading.

Dear Faculty,

 

It has come to the attention of the Assessment Committee that there are faculty who are disheartened by the way the CCSSE (Community College Survey of Student Engagement) is being administered this spring.  As you all know, we have a long tradition of voluntary assessment practices at HWC, refusing to mandate any form of assessment that comes through our committee.  We continue to honor that practice.

 

This spring, CCSSE is being administered through the Office of Academic Affairs, under the direction of the Office of Research and Planning, not the Assessment Committee.  A random sample of course sections is chosen by the CCSSE administration in Texas and is sent to the college.  Normally, colleges then require faculty to administer the survey at specific times in specific courses.  Our college is trying to make this scheduling as flexible as possible, allowing faculty to choose the time in their courses that is best for their students and them.  Faculty have been given a fairly wide window to get this done, within the CCSSE requirements.

 

Understandably, this is frustrating for many of you.  Time is precious and teaching time, even more so.  No, it is not ideal and it is not the way the Assessment Committee has done things in the past.  However, the information they receive from this survey is important as student engagement is directly and indirectly related to learning.  We are hopeful that you can find the time required to honor this request from our administration.  If you have any further questions, please feel free to contact me at jasimow@ccc.edu.

 

Sincerely,

 

Jennifer Asimow, Assessment Committee Chair

On behalf of the Assessment Committee

Cross Talk: Film Edition

Cross Talk is a regular feature, highlighting three to seven items on some discipline taught at the college. We should all know more about what our colleagues know, teach, and love. Lifelong learning, blah, blah, blah, and all that jazz.

Lots of good stuff related to film out there. Here’s a small sliver of it:

~The oral history of Hoop Dreams (as published on Dissolve–a great Web site for writing about film);

~Henry Louis Gates talks about 12 Years a Slave and America; David Simon wrote some interesting things about it, too. And this was good, as well;

~Last year’s Jefferson Lectures honored Martin Scorsese;

~Also from last year, I collected a bunch of stuff about Django Unchained (here, here, here,  and Zero Dark Thirty (here, here ) and other Oscar nominees (here, ) and other stuff like portrayals of Lincoln, or unconventional story telling trends, or a documentary on representations of women in film,

~Check out a brief treatment (with examples) of the role of music in film and the ways that our perceptions of images are affected by what we hear;

~Enemy of the State is a great, great movie;

~From film class project to hit music video;