FC4 moves to file complaint

Posted on behalf of FC4 President, Jennifer Alexander

June 17, 2016

Official Statement: The Faculty Council of the City Colleges of Chicago (FC4) Calls for an Investigation

Over the past two weeks, in an apparent attempt to justify their decision to consolidate six Child Development Programs to Truman College, the District Office of the City Colleges of Chicago has disseminated the following documents to stakeholders including Aldermen, media contacts, and the Mayor’s Office: 1) a PowerPoint Presentation, 2) a document entitled “The Facts About Child Development Programs at City Colleges”, and 3) a document entitled “Child Development Programs Information”.

Faculty researched the data presented within the documents listed above and have found them to contain misleading and erroneous information. In addition, faculty have discovered that over the past two years at least 120 Child Development Basic Certificates were awarded from Truman College to Child Development students who have not taken any courses at Truman.

The Faculty Council of the City Colleges of Chicago (FC4) is the elected representative body of all full-time City Colleges of Chicago faculty members. The charge of FC4 is to “represent and be responsible to the faculty in all matters of general academic policy such as curriculum, program development, academic freedom, and professional development in an advisory, consultative, and planning capacity to the Chancellor and to the Board of Community College District No. 508” (Constitution of the Faculty Council City Colleges of Chicago).

On June 15, 2016 FC4 held an emergency meeting and the following motion was passed:

FC4 will file a formal complaint with the Office of the Inspector General, the Board of Trustees, PACC, the Illinois Community College Board, the Higher Learning Commission, the Illinois Board of Higher Education, and the Department of Education seeking an investigation of the City Colleges of Chicago’s reporting on the number of completions for all Child Development Programs across the district, including all reports that have been submitted to ICCB, HLC, DOE and any other external agencies over the past two years.

This letter serves as a formal complaint.

Respectfully submitted on behalf of the Faculty Council of the City Colleges of Chicago

Jennifer Alexander, FC4 President

A call for an investigation

Over the past two years over 100 Child Development Basic Certificates were awarded from Truman College to Child Development students who have not taken any courses at Truman.
Based on this information, the District-wide Child Development faculty team is calling for an investigation of CCC’s reporting on completion rates for all Child Development programs.  Completion rates are used for a variety of purposes for internal decision-making, but also for external accountability so it’s important that they are accurate.
The Child Development faculty team urges FC4 and any other faculty groups to act now and call for a full investigation.
 

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?

HWCFC’s 411;)

Hi All,

I have some items of interest to report, gleaned from communications from District, the 11th floor and from other faculty and staff. There are many things being discussed but these are some highlights. If you know something which should be highlighted, let me know!

  • Reinvention 7
  • Federal Financial Aid Restrictions
  • New Hires for Fall 2013
  • Class time Audit
  • Copier/printer issues

For specifics, read on!

(more…)

Faculty Council Corner

Faculty Council Corner is a regular Thursday morning-ish feature (that sometimes shows up later) , presenting an open thread for you to bother your HWFC members with pressing questions (or for us to post the pressing questions that you have). Also, you can expect this to be the forum where we post regular updates about what is happening with Faculty Council and when.

This Week’s Updates: Nothing much new this week. We are, however, semi-desperate to find some faculty who are willing to serve on the District Wide Faculty Council (FC4). They meet on the last Wednesday of every month at 3pm (I think), usually at Malcolm X, and HW is supposed to have three elected members and one appointed by HWFC. As of right now, one of our elected members (unfortunately for us, but due to good things for her) had to resign and has been replaced by appointee (and awesome person) Jess Bader. Another of our elected members is on Sabbatical this spring and still needs a substitute for the rest of the semester. A third of our elected members notified us this week that she won’t be able to continue serving on FC4, given her duties with Reinvention and so also needs to be replaced. Rosie is our HWFC appointee.

In other words, we have two of four possible votes on the District wide council accounted for and two that need appointing. Any and all interested parties are encouraged to contact one of your HWFC reps. Appointees must be full time faculty but need not be tenured. Let us know if you’re interested.

Last “Week’s” Pressing Questions: Nary a one. Nothing, that is, except for what the Mayor’s speech means for our colleges. I guess that one counts. Nothing else, though.

FC4 President’s Address to the Board

FCCCC Presidents Address

CCC Board of Trustees Meeting

Thursday, November 3rd, 2011

Chairman Cabrera, Chancellor Hyman, members of the Board, Officers of the District, faculty, staff and all others present, good morning.

For this board report, I had prepared a nuanced and thoughtful discussion of remediation, of the City Colleges various attempts to address remediation and of a comparison with Mayor Bloombergs Start program in New York City, but that will be another time. Instead, I want to discuss the corrosive campaign initiated by the Inspector Generals Office and, in particular, the new posters that are displayed around the colleges.

This poster has in large red letters the word

Report and then lists the words Waste, Fraud, and Misconduct. It then lists all the ways an individual can submit this report to the Inspector Generals Office and reminds the audience that this report can be confidential and anonymous. Moreover, the webpage associated with the office says nothing about specifics of waste, fraud, or misconduct, just more verbiage about reporting incidents.

Please note a couple of things. The language is vague and legalistic; it doesnt tell the reader what constitutes waste, fraud or misconduct. Note, too, that the linguistic vagary allows anything to be reported, particularly under the cloak of anonymity: any rumor, any salacious story, any anger-driven narrative. Moreover, the language seems to be purposefully accusatory and assumes an adversarial position; it seemingly targets behavior that the accuser can claim as wasteful or fraudulent, but who can assess that? Only the Inspector Generals Office and only in secret: the Office can interrogate anyone it deems appropriate without revealing who made the report or about what activity is being investigated. It s intentionally secret, because, as the head of the department said to us in his presentation, you wouldnt tell the truth if you knew the reason why. This is a slippery slope, and one weve seen before.

The House Un-American Activities Committee and its Senate counterpart began just this way, by asking for information about activities, initially in a special committee on pro-German influence on the liquor distribution, and it bloomed into the fiasco of the 1950s in which fear and uncertainty ruled. Its the same language and the same techniques, and its divisive, destructive and detrimental to what, I believe, were trying to build at the City Colleges: colleges that encourage and support our students in their academic journey. And reporting on each other is not the way to do this.

In contrast, for example, the University of Illinois on its webpage for the Universitys Ethics Office, says,The Universitys Code of Conduct establishes guidelines for professional conduct and indicates those acting on behalf of the University have a general duty to conduct themselves in a manner that will maintain and strengthen the publics trust and confidence in the integrity of the University and take no actions incompatible with their obligations to the University.

Moreover, the University makes it clear what that process is:

Management employees [and it lists exactly who those individuals are later in the text] are responsible for detecting fraudulent activities or misconduct in their areas of responsibility. Each manager should be familiar with the types of improprieties that might occur in his/her area and be alert for any indication that improper or dishonest activity is or was in existence in his/her area. When dishonest or improper activity is detected or suspected, management should determine whether an error or misunderstanding has occurred or whether possible fraud exists. Management is responsible for taking appropriate corrective actions to ensure adequate controls exist to prevent the recurrence of fraud. It then goes on to list the rules and authority of the Inspector Generals Office, and it lists definitions and examples of fraud, which, and again Im quoting, Fraud generally involves intentional misuse or conversion of University property or resources for personal non-University uses.

This site assumes that there are areas of possible misconduct associated with particular positions, which ones supervisor can detect and correct, and that part of the supervision is the recognition of the difference between intentional and unintentional activity. Finally, the assumption is that the apparent fraud may have been perpetrated through error or misunderstanding, not that misconduct is rampant at the University. It is also noteworthy that there is nothing on this page about waste. (See

http://www.ethics.uillinois.edu/policies/fraud.cfm

for the full report. Accessed November 2, 2011)

When we look at the Federal Governments Office of the Inspector General under the auspices of the Department of Health and Human Resources, it deals primarily with health care fraud, such as improper billing for closed or nonexistent health care or nursing home facilities, and it is clear about what does not fal l under its purview. It does not investigate, for instance, discrimination (race, sexual orientation, disability and so on) at the workplace; that is handled by the EEO officer. This webpage, similarly to the University of Illinois webpage, is a very explicit and detailed site that includes various compliance training resources and lists of examples of fraud and misconduct. Moreover, similar to the University of Illinois site, it assumes that no one wants to commit fraud or mishandle resources. The Office trusts its employees and assumes compliance. (See

http://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/

for the full page. Accessed November 2, 2011)

Let me be clear. No one supports waste, fraud and misconduct. No one wants a whistle blower to be punished.

But this poster is different: This encourages an atmosphere of distrust among us all; it divides departments and colleges; and it focuses on absolutely the wrong thing, not on what were doing, how we should act to strengthen our mission and uphold the integrity of our institution, but on reporting what someone else is doing.

This is make-work, and its particularly pernicious make-work. Indeed, if the Inspector Generals Office needs to advertise for work, then we have too many individuals in that office.

We are unequivocal about this. This kind of campaign is absolutely reprehensible

and wasteful and smacks of overweening arrogance and misconduct. The posters need to be removed NOW.

Respectfully submitted,

Polly Hoover

President of FC4

FC4 President’s Address to the Board

 

FCCCC Presidents Address

CCC Board of Trustees Meeting

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

 

 

 

 

 

Chairman Cabrera, Chancellor Hyman, members of the Board, Officers of the District, faculty, staff and all others present, good morning.

 

For this board report, I want to focus on the process by which information is communicated among the faculty and the role that the various committees, including FC4, contribute to shared governance.

 

Let me first outline some of the various committees. Each college has a curriculum committee, made up of faculty and administrators, who review curriculum initiatives including changes to syllabi and the introduction of new courses and new programs. Most recently, some colleges have reconstituted other committees, which focus on shared governance and institutional integrity. The recommendations from these committees then funnel into the local faculty council, which oversees all issues either deemed academic or with some impact on the academic life of the college. I

m purposely vague here, because sometimes we discuss issues that are not strictly speaking academic, but we want to encourage a robust discussion with our colleagues on these issues or point faculty to the appropriate place for help.

Curriculum issues that have been vetted, discussed, and approved then go to the district-wide curriculum committee, and, in turn, are vetted, discussed and approved by the members of all of the colleges. As with the local subcommittees, the FC4 has also recently reconstituted a number of other district-wide committees, including one on tenure policies, another on shared governance, a third on procurements, and a fourth on administrative oversight. All of these committee recommendations and concerns are presented to the district-wide faculty council, of which I am the president.

 

One of the most important aspects of these committees isn

t what we do or dont do (though that is important) but what we communicate to each other. We do not have any role in contractual issues such as the size of the class or fac ulty load, but we may point people toward the appropriate person for answers to contractual questions. Each committee is, in essence, a monthly faculty development meeting in which we are upholding the institutional integrity and integrating the faculty into that process.

Who are the faculty who comprise these faculty councils, both local and district-wide? Full-time faculty vote at each college on full-time faculty colleagues to represent them on the various committees, and each committee then votes on its leadership.

 

And this is an important point. The full-time faculty decide on who their representatives should be, whom they feel they can trust to present their positions, whom they allow to vote on their behalf. But the committees do not always include adult educators and adjunct faculty as voting members; indeed, their inclusion as voting members has been a topic of heated discussion. (These are open meetings, so anyone is invited to attend and to contribute, but only the members may vote on the issues.) Moreover, faculty members are not univocal; these committee meetings can be lively events with faculty clearly disagreeing with each other. And the debate can slow down the implementation of recommendations.

 

This may seem like an unwieldy system, and we get complaints from administrators and faculty about the slowness of the process. Yet, although it may be imperfect, it does work to facilitate communication among faculty and to allow robust debate about policy issues that have profound impact on our students.

 

But one of the weaknesses of this system, which we are addressing, is the lack of engagement with the administration on these policy issues. We began in the summer with monthly meetings with the acting provost, Mike Davis, and we will continue with the new provost, Kojo Quartey. These meetings include our expanded executive committee and are extremely important to the institutional effectiveness of the City Colleges. Institutional effectiveness is really the driving force behind faculty participation on the committees.

 

Another positive collaboration between faculty (full-time, part-time, and adult educators) and administrators is the work on the performance funding review committees. As vice chancellor Antonio Gutierrez pointed out in his introduction to the committees, this is the first time in his twenty-three years at City Colleges that faculty and administrators have sat down together and addressed an issue to produce a document that affects us all, students, administrators, faculty and staff. We need more collaboration on this model.

 

Finally, all of this is predicated on trust and knowledge among and between faculty, staff and administration. The faculty is exhausted by trying to implement policies about which faculty and staff have had little or no input or which make little sense for our respective colleges. We need local control and oversight, not general edicts that work well for no one. This includes policies about tenure decisions, the question s about hiring and credentials, and the elimination or changing of programs without faculty input. Faculty have a process by which we discuss, vet and communicate policies and that process should be respected and not ignored. We may not be univocal on all things, but we absolutely agree on one thing: we are professionals, we know what we are doing, we need to be trusted.

 

 

 

Respectfully submitted,

 

Polly Hoover

 

President of FC4