Bienvenido, Chancellor Salgado – Adelante!

So, we have a new Chancellor.*

Meet Juan Salgado–this interview from The Reader, published shortly after Chancellor Salgado was named a MacArthur Genius grant recipient for his work in community advocacy is a good place to start. Salgado is clearly connected to the city power networks and Mayor Emanuel–he also serves as a Commissioner on the Park District Board. Yesterday, I heard some grumblings about him as “anti-union” and guessed that it was related to his leadership of a couple of charter schools (and that seems to be the case–apparently he put up some resistance to one of his schools’ attempts to unionize, at least at first), but was happy to find this article from 2015 about unions and charter schools from just last year where, if you read through it, you’ll see him quoted as saying:

I sat down with Juan Salgado, the president and CEO of Instituto Del Progreso Latino, a nonprofit educational organization in Pilsen, a predominantly Latino neighborhood in Chicago, to learn what it’s been like for him to oversee two charters that have unionized with AFT. Salgado believes that unions have been tremendous assets for his schools, particularly around some of the more fraught questions of wages and benefits. Can such issues be resolved “without a union?” he asks. “Yeah. But can we move forward to actually run a school? Probably not.” The mutual buy-in at the end of the negotiating process, Salgado said, created a better spirit at his schools.

Though Salgado was explicit that he disapproved of the way the union conducted its first organizing campaign—the organizers caricatured him as an evil boss, he says, solely to advance their strategy—he still feels the resulting unions, full of organized, passionate people, are no hindrance to excellence. “Unions ask a lot of questions! And that’s OK,” he says. “Critical questioning causes reflection and makes sure you have very good answers. And they demand transparency, and transparency is important. It’s a value that we should all have.”

I love the idea of having a Chancellor who has a moral commitment to education as transformative, though, I’m reminded that Chancellor Hyman has a deep belief in that same principle. I’m a little worried that so much of the talk about education and schooling that I see in relation to Chancellor Salgado (and the Mayor) consistently connects learning and jobs/careers. Even while I understand the appeal and value of a pathway to work and pay, we have seen where that narrow conception of the value of a liberal education can lead. I am heartened by his commitment to (and experience in) citizenship preparation and GED programs and recognize those and his charter school experience as providing something of what Faculty Council asked for in regard to an “educational background,” and I hope that Chancellor Salgado will recognize that his experiences at Moraine Valley and his work experience are a long way from being a complete understanding of what we do and do well. (For example, he is quoted in the Sun-Times article as saying, ““The school that I run, 54 percent of our students get some sort of college credential before they graduate from high school. We need to do that in every school because that saves students and families money and advances them into higher education,” he said. But a credit is not a credential, and a community college is not a bridge from high school to college–it IS college. But maybe that’s just semantics. Certainly everyone in a new job deserves the chance to learn and grow and show what they can do. I look forward to seeing what our new Chancellor does and can do. Hell, I look forward to actually seeing our Chancellor in the colleges for something other than a press conference with the Mayor.

 

*I have to also say that I was also happy to see that the news reports were not mere restatements of the press release, but provided fuller context on situation that our new Chancellor comes into. I’m not sure if it was a fluke or part of the information provided by our current board and leadership or whether we have Donald Trump to thank for the new willingness on the part of our local press to not accept the pronouncements of City Hall as unquestionable truth, but I’m happy to see it.

Think, Know, Prove: More Stats, More Questions

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.

Yes, yes, I know I promised a look at the college by college numbers last week, and I meant it. But in the interim, I was contacted by somebody with a request to include the system-wide completion numbers from 2015 as soon as possible, numbers I didn’t have, but which the person provided for me (with assurances of their accuracy and the suggestion that they could be confirmed through Open Book). If you watched Chancellor Hyman’s speech to the Civic Club of Chicago, you saw a preview of these, but not the breakout by degrees (a breakout, which our Chancellor told us is just a tangle of “alphabet soup,” a rather flippant dismissal of one of our concerns, especially since it comes  RIGHT AFTER her telling the story about how her own AGS degree turned out not to have prepared her well for transfer! Amazing, again!! But I digress).

Suffice it to say that the numbers were interesting enough that I decided to delay my college-by-college account of changes in degree granting for a week (or two–I have a couple posts on “Merit Pay” that I’ve wanted to do for awhile now) to give another look at the system-wide completion numbers with our most recent year included. Here they are (click on the chart to make it bigger):

Degrees--System (2015)The numbers are astonishing. AA degrees increased almost 40% last year alone, while AS degrees more than doubled! AGS degrees are still much larger than they used to be, but down 17.4% from last year. So what happened? Something must be working…I don’t see how it could be the Pathways since they’re minimally rolled out at this point. Can’t be “Campus Solutions” Course Planner, since that just rolled out last spring. So…what the hell? I know I’m supposed to just clap and say, “Good job, everybody!” but it seems rather strange, doesn’t it? I mean, it feels kind of “Enron-y” doesn’t it? What am I missing?

I would be curious to see how many of these graduations were of students who were enrolled in 2014-2015 (and how many were students whose completion was a function of having completion credits reverse transferred from the school they transferred to. I wish I could take a survey of the recipients and find out how many were surprised to find out that they’d earned a CCC degree. Maybe none. Maybe lots?

And, per Anthony’s point (in the comments on my last week’s post) the increase probably has something to do with the huge enrollment spike we had during and over the couple years following the Great Recession of 2008. I also wonder how many of these students benefited from the relaxation of the home campus requirement to just 15 hours (when was that changed, 2014? I’m too lazy to look). But even with all of that, 575 AS degrees? I didn’t see that coming. It’ll be interesting to see what the school to school breakout is on those.

Anyway, there it is–a surprising set of numbers. What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?

Reminder: Vote for FC4 Reps

Voting is happening right now in your department office for the two candidates running to represent Harold Washington College at Faculty Council of the City Colleges of Chicago (i.e., FC4).

Just in case you read this but not emails, here are the bios of the candidates, as presented in the HWFC email you received from HWFC President Jess Bader:

Hello Faculty,

We are excited to present the two candidates who have been nominated for the district level Faculty Council (FC4). Check out their bios, and be sure to vote next week. The polls will be open from Monday through Friday September 28th – October 2nd.

 

Phillip Vargas

My name is Phillip Vargas, and I am an Assistant Professor and Co-Chair of the Department of Physical Sciences. I teach both general education courses and program level physics courses. I have been teaching at HWC since Fall 2010, and believe I have worked on many projects that have positively contributed to the college. What I have enjoyed most in working on these projects has been meeting and collaborating with other dedicated faculty members. After serving as a substitute FC4 representative for the last few months I believe my voice on FC4 can help to improve the dialogue between the colleges and with district office. If elected, I would be honored to represent HWC in this capacity.

 

Jennifer Meresman

I’ve always been passionate about public education and feel very lucky to be a full-time faculty member at the Harold Washington. I first formally studied public education as an American institution when I wrote my undergrad thesis on public schools as a site for teaching civic engagement in order to strengthen democracy. This theoretical study led me to want hands-on experience teaching in a public school, so I then taught special education middle school math in Oakland, CA for three years. Although I immediately found that I loved working with students, I realized a middle school was not the right place for me, so I got a Master’s degree with the explicit goal of teaching at the community college level. After completing a Master’s in Humanities at the University of Chicago, I got a full-time position in the English Department at Harold Washington in 2006.

In 2011 I joined Reinvention, and I focused my time there on the redesign of the tenure process. I was passionate about this project because I see tenure as both an incredible opportunity and responsibility that both enables and obligates faculty to participate in shared governance, directing the course of public education. Through the two-year redesign, I got an opportunity to work with both administrators and faculty across the seven colleges, and became committed to strengthening relationships between all of these parties, ensuring that we are working together towards a shared mission.

The End of the Summer Session (and so much more)

“It is with a heavy heart that I write you this message today” began the email message from our FC4 President, and Child Development faculty member from Daley College, Jennifer Alexander.

Here’s the rest of her message:

In the interest of time, I will only speak briefly to this matter.

Last Thursday, July 16th, the Presidents of the 6 City Colleges that currently offer Child Development classes (all except Wright) and any faculty who happened to check their email (sent at 6 pm the evening before) participated in a very short conference call with district officers.

In this conference call, we were informed that the Child Development programs at all of the colleges will be closed and are “consolidating” at Truman College for the Fall of 2016.

This notion of “consolidation” completely undermines the mission of a COMMUNITY College.

Further, the conference- call delivery of a top-down decision that significantly impacts faculty and students at 6 colleges, with no faculty having ever been included in the decision-making process, is the OPPOSITE of shared governance.

There is so much more to say about this and so many other issues that have arisen this summer: tuition hikes, registration changes….. If I wrote to you everything I want to say, this email would be 10 pages long and not ready until next week. And so I decided to send out this shorter, quick communication just to make sure you knew this is happening and also how it happened.

More to come, soon. Take heart though: we’re taking action.


Perusing a recent Chronicle summary of “How Great Colleges Distinguish Themselves,” four areas were identified as contributing to collegiate greatness: leadership, communication, alignment, and respect.

I’ll just leave that there.

Highlights from the Board Report: February and March 2014

Highlights from the Board Report is a monthly irregular feature that highlights what one person finds to be important from the most recent Board Report. We read it so you don’t have to. You’re welcome.

(UPDATE: Apologies if you tried the links and found them less than helpful. I believe they are fixed now. h/t to Jenny Armendarez for the tip.)

So it’s been a long while since I’ve done one of these, but that doesn’t mean there’s nothing to know. As we swing into budget season, I thought it might be worth doing again. Not only that, but there’s some great news that I want to highlight on the Intertubes for perpetuity.

FEBRUARY

~Congratulations to our colleagues who earned tenure (Samar Ayesh, Luke Belz, Tony Florez, Janette Gayle, Joe Hinton, Sarah Kakumanu, Erica McCormack, Megan Ritt, Ray Tse, and Phil Vargas) and contract renewals (Cynthia Cerrentano, Amy Rosenquist, LaNisha Thomas)! The tenure group is a really amazing class and not least because they are so unfailingly collegial with each other and everyone else. Almost as amazing as the class of 2003 (here and here). I’m excited to see what they will have done at the end of their tenth year. And congratulations to our colleagues at other schools, too, though I’m left wondering what in the world is going on over at Kennedy-King? Out of 21 candidates, there were 3 resignations, 2 non-renewals, and an extension. Something isn’t working over there.

~There were some changes to VP approvals for cross-college assignments and overtime (related to CDL, no doubt). Now both VPs have to sign off instead of just the home college VP. Have fun with that!

~Some hiring happened, including a new IT Director at HW. Remember when District saved us all that money by consolidating all the IT jobs on Jackson? And now each college has Directors, Managers, and all kinds of stuff. Fascinating.

~Presidents hired consultants.

~Our Faculty Council President reported that she got a new one-way email up and running. yay.

MARCH

~Love the looks of the new Maternity/Paternity Leave policy. It only applies to non-bargained for employees, though. Hopefully it will make it into the new adjunct contract, if they ever get such a thing. Speaking of, when will that union get one? They’ve been teaching all year under an expired contract, yet, not a peep. Does their leadership not realize that 2/3rds (more actually) of our faculty are adjuncts? What did they say at the State of the College? 287 adjuncts? That’s compared to 120 or so full-time faculty. That’s a lot of potential disruption. Granted, they’re not all unionized, but still. A glance at The Adjunct Project tells the story of their pay relative to others who do their work (and it’s embarrassing).

~Concealed carry may be legal in Illinois, but it’s still not allowed on campus (which I’m personally happy about, lest we have to seek an answer to this puzzling question).

~Speaking of things related to “pay” and “embarrassing” there was hiring in March, and we have another new $100,000 Associate Vice Chancellor–this one is the Vice Chancellor of Decision Support (I swear I am not making that up). It’s a “new position,” too. (This suggests two things, immediately: 1) I want to have a contest for coming up with the most ridiculous VC or AVC title to be created and filled in FY15, with a pie of your choosing going to the winner; and 2) did anyone attend the “Meet the Vice Chancellors” gig (other than administrators)? And if so, how many were there? Was the two hour meeting taken up by introductions? Did some of them have to stand in the lobby so there was room for an audience? File your report in the comments if you went. In happier news on the hiring front, Tasha Williams, who was always great here, has been promoted to Dean of Student Services at Malcolm X. Congrats to her.

~The board approved a big contract for new furniture system-wide. The vendor is “responsible for working with CCC to design classroom furniture layouts, purchase, assemble, and install selected furnishings, and dispose of existing furniture district wide.” The first deliverable listed is, “Design classroom furniture layout for each classroom with faculty input.” We’ll see what that means, I guess. Anyway, I’m interested in this. I’ve been looking for info and research on classroom arrangements fo a year now and found very little.The only thing I’ve found is this from a book called Participatory Workshops by Robert Chambers that I borrowed from our CAST room.

~Various other things were purchased by Presidents who aren’t packing for Vermont.

~According to the Provost, GradesFirst is a big success. They also gave us a look at “a day in the life of academic affairs.

~Pathways are an amazing success, too, we’re told, though if I’d seen this pathways presentation, which has to be one of the worst examples of PowerPoint usage that I’ve seen, I would have been struggling to stifle my giggles while thinking of THIS (called “Dear Presenter, Please Don’t Drive Me to Suicide During Your Presentation;” the language is salty, but right on in my humble).

~The Inspector General is on the job, too. More complaints, more investigations, more punishments (though only 32 of 256 complaints were sustained; in baseball language, that’s well below the Mendoza Line. I know that’s not really their fault, but one wonders at the wisdom of so much money and time and effort going to an office with a 12.5% success rate. Oh, is that an unfair measure of what they do? Does that fail to take into account the inputs? Join the club. But I digress.

~Faculty Council President Cristina Aguila said something, but I don’t know what because it hasn’t posted yet. I’m guessing that it was about how much communication has improved, and the IRB, and distance learning. That’s just a guess, though,