Panel of Big Shots

See the big shots, give ’em a piece of your mind, or see if you can find theirs!

It’s free, it’s close, it’s at an inconvenient time, but it’s free!

From your email:

Attention: all City Colleges students, faculty, staff and administrators

Lt. Governor Sheila Simon will be making a CCC stop on her Complete College Listening Tour at Malcolm X College.  As Lt. Governor Simon tours all 48 Illinois community colleges, she will be promoting the state goal of having 60 percent of all working –age adults hold college degrees or certificates by 2025.

Simon will participate in a panel discussion on how the state-wide completion goal relates to CCC’s Reinvention strategy.  All City Colleges students, faculty, staff and administrators are invited to attend.

Tuesday, October 4th at 10 a.m.
Malcolm X College
Bruce K. Hayden Performance Center
1900 West Van Buren

Joining Simon on the panel are:

Alexi Giannoulias, chairman of the Illinois Community College Board
Gery Chico, chairman of the Illinois State Board of Education
Perry Buckley, president of the Local 1600, Illinois Federation of Teachers

On the tour, Lt. Governor Simon is learning what each Illinois community college is doing to improve completion and how the state can help schools overcome barriers to the completion goal.

All City Colleges students, faculty, staff and administrators are invited to attend and participate in the discussion.

PBFs, KPIs, Data Portals, and Success Metrics

HWFC met with Don and John yesterday, and they (Don and John) are giving the same presentation to the Chairs today, kicking off a conversation about what is likely to be a hugely important project that represents a tremendous and short lived opportunity. There will be strange words and acronyms (see the title) involved, but we’ll run through those over the next week or so, one by one.

In the meantime, this article is a good place to start:

A committee tasked by the Education Department with strengthening how the government measures the success of community colleges last week issued its draft report of recommendations, which will be discussed here today at the committee’s final meeting.

The 20-page report from the Committee on Measures of Student Success calls for community colleges and states to collect and disclose more information about graduation rates, student learning and employment. This reporting should include more voluntarily released data, the committee said, as well as more thorough compliance with current federal disclosure requirements.

Measures of student success need to more accurately reflect the comprehensive mission of two-year institutions and the diversity of students that these institutions serve,” the report said. “For example, current graduation rates do not adequately reflect these institutions’ multiple missions and diverse populations.”

And this one tells the story (or at least a small part of it) of why the committee’s work both matters to us (like it or not) and represents an  opportunity. From the article by Dean Dad:

I’m not naive enough to think that rankings won’t be used in some basically regressive and/or punitive way. But if we at least want to make informed choices, we should try to get the rankings right. Otherwise we’ll wind up rewarding all the wrong things.

He also includes a few suggestions for measures other than graduation:

If the technology and privacy issues could be addressed, I’d like to see a measure that shows how successful cc grads are when they transfer to four-year schools. If the grads of Smith CC do well, and the grads of Jones CC do poorly, then you have a pretty good idea where to start. That would offset the penalty that otherwise accrues to cc’s in areas with vibrant four-year sectors, and it would provide an incentive to keep the grading standards high. If you get your graudation numbers up by passing anyone who can fog a mirror, presumably that will show up in their subsequent poor performance at destination schools. If your grads thrive, then you’re probably doing something right.

Finally, of course, there’s an issue of preparation. The more economically depressed an area, generally speaking, the less academically prepared their entering students will be. If someone who’s barely literate doesn’t graduate, is that because the college didn’t do its job, or because it did? As with the K-12 world, it’s easy for “merit-based” measures to wind up ratifying plutocracy. That would run directly counter to the mission of community colleges, and to my mind, would be a tragic mistake. Any responsible use of performance measures would have to ‘control’ for the economics of the service area. If a college manages to outperform its demographics, it’s doing something right; if it underperforms its demographics, it’s dropping the ball.

The point is, we’ve been belly aching (rightly and justifiably) about the obtuseness of the measures that are popularly and recently used to judge our performance and “success” (in the media, in the Reinvention scheme, and so on). The next few weeks offer an opportunity to have some say at the local and state levels at least, which may possibly impact the federal level, too–it’s not impossible–as to what we think a successful engagement with students is and how our “performance” might best be measured, in so far as that is possible.

(And, just in case you’re interested, here’s an article on the outcome of the meeting mentioned in the first article.)

On Negotiating

I thought this was an insightful and interesting piece on negotiation and the views of it from outside the negotiating room (which often affect what goes on inside).

I want here to look at what universities can learn from legislative paralysis, particularly the gridlock stymieing Washington. I start from the assumption that universities, more than most organizations, emphasize achieving consensus in decisions. At times, many of us in academe take pride in our commitment to consensus-based decision making, aligning it with such positive values as involving people in the decisions that affect them and favoring persuasion over coercion. At other times, however, even the most forceful advocates of consensus-based decision-making, among whom I count myself, get impatient. Our frustration leads to familiar complaints about herding cats, never getting another accomplished, and enduring interminable meetings that only complicate problems instead of resolving them.

Our commitment to consensus waxes and wanes for many reasons but primarily because we are ambivalent about compromise. Compromise is almost always essential to achieving consensus in higher education. A proposed major change in a university – for example, a revision in the academic calendar or curriculum – typically attracts a core of supporters and an equally vocal group of naysayers. Between these extremes lies a not yet committed, more or less curious group, sometimes a majority of faculty members, who need to be brought along if the proposal is going to succeed. I say “succeed” rather than “pass” because without sufficient support, even a proposal approved by the majority can still be sabotaged or at least stalled. Tenured faculty opponents of the change can continue their dissent with impunity. Lukewarm faculty members can maintain their disengagement, refusing to staff key committees that may be necessary to implementing the change. Although unanimity is neither essential nor realistic, sufficient consensus, not just a majority vote, is crucial.

I particularly liked this paragraph:

Listening is especially important to fostering constructive conversations. When people feel unheard, they clam up or shout. It is hard to listen to someone else when we ourselves feel unacknowledged, when we are stewing over our own bottled up thoughts and feelings instead of expressing them to a responsive audience. The best university leaders show how we all can move from monologues – venting to friends, lecturing to subordinates, complaining to a spouse or partner – into learning conversations with the very people we want to avoid.

There are other good ones, too. Read the rest HERE.


Economic Distributions

This one comes via recommendation from Adriana Tapanes (Humanities):

The 5 percent of Americans with the highest incomes now account for 37 percent of all consumer purchases, according to the latest research from Moody’s Analytics. That should come as no surprise. Our society has become more and more unequal.

When so much income goes to the top, the middle class doesn’t have enough purchasing power to keep the economy going without sinking ever more deeply into debt — which, as we’ve seen, ends badly. An economy so dependent on the spending of a few is also prone to great booms and busts. The rich splurge and speculate when their savings are doing well. But when the values of their assets tumble, they pull back. That can lead to wild gyrations. Sound familiar?

Personally speaking, I’m not a big Robert Reich fan, but it’s definitely a thought provoking piece. You can read the rest here. Thanks for the suggestion, Adriana.

Tabula Rasa Sunday

This is the final Tabula Rasa Sunday post. I appreciate all who’ve shared their thoughts (via post and reply) these past couple of months. Continue to share your ideas for they are our seeds of reflection and action.

Whadayasay, one final thought before we officially begin the Fall 2011 semester?

How we’re teaching our students to spell $UCCE$$

Given the extra time I’ve had on my hands this summer, I’ve been able to sit down and read the news. Yeah! Unfortunately, I’ve observed several problems from an educational perspective. Boo!

The idea of success has been on my mind since the chancellor embedded it in the reinvention plan (sometimes I think of it as being buried, and left for dead, in the ‘case for reinvention’, but I digress). I have found it very troubling to read about what we are doing as a society in terms of defining success by our actions and what this unspoken belief is doing to our educational system and our students.

Exhibit A: $60M goal for Obama fund-raisers
According to this article, Obama is lookin’ to raise quite a bit ‘o cash as he positions himself for a second term in the White House. When I read between the lines, this story is basically sayin’: Money rules. No money equals no votes equals no success. He’s not positioning himself to be the best candidate, he’s positioning himself to be the wealthiest candidate. It has less to do about the ability to be a leader and more about how to pull in the dough.
Moral #1 of the story: If you ain’t got cash, you ain’t got success ’cause money rules!
Moral #2 of the story: You can prostitute your way up any corporate ladder. (As these politicians “raise” their money, they’re makin’ sweet promises in exchange for that cash.) It’s less about what you’ve done for your mind lately, and more about what-have-you-done-for-$$-lately.

[What’s really telling is that when I ran a search for Obama on the newspaper’s website, his official website came up as a sponsoring ad. Our government has a corporate mentality. I don’t like it.]

Exhibit B: Emanuel effort to reinvent city government getting a $6 million boost
The article states, “Chicago’s new mayor will use the money to create an innovation team in his office. The roughly 10-member team will be tasked with finding ways to reduce the amount of time businesses and residents spend waiting to get a permit or obtain a new license.”
So from what I gather, the mayor can’t do much without the dough.
Moral #1 of the story:  Successful governing is only possible with money.
Moral #2 of the story: Lean on your rich friends to take care of you ’cause being self-sufficient is no longer a requirement to being a smart politician. (Remember how Rahm wants us to be his financial partners in fixin’ Daley’s mess??)

Exhibit C: Elgin-O’Hare bypass should be built as toll road
Why is this tollway needed? “A newly completed report by an advisory council appointed last year by Quinn concludes that building the Elgin-O’Hare West Bypass would create more than 78,000 short- and long-term jobs, maximize the potential for an expanded O’Hare, and bolster the region’s economy.”
Moral #1 of the story: Don’t do it if it ain’t gonna generate $$$.
Moral #2: of the story: It has little to do with the good of the polis and everything to do with JOBS.
Hell with that kind of an attitude, let’s build a highway, sorry, tollway over AND under O’Hare ’cause it will generate billions in jobs. Don’t let any cars on, then, hire an advisory council to conclude that it needs to be destroyed ’cause it didn’t produce enough traffic and it’ll bolster the economy!

Finally, Exhibit D: Emanuel announces new heads at 5 City Colleges
In the article Emanuel is quoted as stating, “The community college system is on the front line of training the workforce we need in the city so we can attract businesses.”
Moral #1 of the story: Get you some training so I can use you to attract business. (Sounds like a pimp to me.)
Moral #2 of the story: College equals Training equals  $$$. College does not equal living an examined life. Go get that somewhere else.

These are the words our students are exposed to and the culture that sends them through our doors. These politicians contradict our educational mission because they take importance and attention away from the fundamentals of earning an education. They pervert the educational system the more they talk about earning their selfish goals.

What a mess they’ve made of success and the citizens of our community.

FYBudget2012: The good news

Well peeps, I’ve been critical of our district and have done my best to point out the bad and the ugly. I’ve yet to point out the good ’cause, well, I ain’t seen much of it. However, I promised myself to be objective and acknowledge all news related to CCC. Good, bad, and ugly.

Here’s some good news. I’ve taken a look at the news release regarding our proposed budget for FY2012. Here are some good highlights, quoted from the prepared statement, along with my commentary:

  1. “The recommended balanced budget represents a $69.6 million, or 12% increase, from FY2011…” I guess enrollment’s been good.
  2. “…reducing the senior executive management budget by ten percent and implementing a hiring freeze for all new non‐instructional positions…” This confirms Don’s remarks regarding hiring faculty.
  3. “Going forward, we will make further investments that enhance teaching and learning.” Them’s the chancellor’s words. I can agree with the statement.
  4. “In FY2011, City Colleges realized a savings of $30 million without any reductions in teaching positions.” That’s good news, right?
  5. “…twenty new advisors and 120 tutors and mentors were hired resulting in a reduction in the student to advisor
    ratio by 25 percent.” Methinks I saw some new advisors in April and May on the first floor. Good for our students.
  6. “Adding 12 more financial aid counselors and support staff to ensure that our students are receiving the maximum financial aid and grant assistance available to them.” I shure am glad. BTW, I wish I could answer more financial aid questions during advising. I admit more ignorance than knowledge in this area.
  7. “Planning to open more new full‐time faculty positions to increase the percentage of classes/programs taught by full‐time faculty.” I guess they really heard you Don. Way to go!
  8. “Implementing numerous changes to the registration process and operational efficiencies recommended by the Reinvention Task Force Committees.” I’ve yet to see any reports, but I ain’t here to point out the bad and the ugly, only the good and I’s glad to at least read this line. I will assume that task force recommendations are being heard.
  9. Finally, “Budget recommendation will be considered by the CCC Board for adoption on Thursday, July 14.” That’s today peeps. If ya hear anythin’, post it here.

That’s all. I hope I’s been fair to all. (Cue up the Ennio Morricone music as I walk through the CTA turnstile and slowly turn to see my 8-car train ride pull into the station.)

Your input is needed Peeps

Hi all,

I just ran across this email message from our dear peep, Rosie. I thought I’d share it with y’all here in case y’all took a break from checkin’ your CCC emails. Here’s what she wrote:

Dear colleagues,

Polly Hoover, our President of Faculty Council at the District Level (FC4) is responsible for preparing an address to the Board of Directors at each meeting. If there is anything you would like me to pass on to her, anything that you think needs to be brought to the attention of the Board of Directors, please email me [this is where I took out her email addresses in order to protect her privacy – but y’all know how to contact her (or use this as an excuse to open that CCC email account of yours) so it ain’t no big deal].

She is our representative. She needs our input to be effective.

Thanks for your attention to this, and I hope you’re having a lovely summer!

I second that charge on effectiveness. Speak now peeps. Be heard!

Common thread or voices in my head?

I’m discovering a very troubling thread between the education reports in the media and our children. In my observations, it appears to me that our children (yes, I’ll use the plural to be consistent with the media) are being used to persuade the public to accept choices and decisions made by our school and political leaders. I don’t like it. It’s criminal. Yet the criminals go unpunished, say the voices in my head.

Exhibit A1 (From an earlier post): Education reforms are signed into law
Take a look at the photo from this article. The governor is sitting down and he’s surrounded by children first, then parents (I think). Our mayor is in the far right. What’s the message the media and politicians are sending to the reader? That the children are happy because of this reform? I don’t think they should be there. How many of them know what this new law really means? What makes this photo worthy of being published? When I saw it, I heard the voice in my head saying, The children are pawns in the political game of adults.

Exhibit A2: Quinn signs bill that lengthens school day
Same story, similar photo. I won’t repeat myself. This time, take a look at the children. Do they really know what’s going on? They’re pawns for these adults.

Exhibit B: 1st-grader gives thumbs up to push for longer school day, year
No photo here, but the mayor is explaining the virtues of longer school days to one child. Really? Does anypeep see this exchange of words as a form of intimidation or bullying? Ya know, the bigger kid tells the smaller kid what to do and think? I’d like to see the mayor take up this conversation with the teachers.
This is analogous to a drug lord talking to a child about the virtues of selling crack; and the newspaper spinning it to read like the child will profit greatly from this agreement.
This is not objective reporting. This is a shameless plug for the mayor; and the children are nothing more than an accessory to this adult’s crime.

Exhibit C: CPS teachers making home visits? New CEO Jean-Claude Brizard floats idea
Like Exhibit A1 and A2, students are used to make the politicians look good by the media. It’s not just the media’s fault. I blame CPS for directing the media to this event. Give me the report without the child actors. That’s really what these students are to this administrator. Why do we allow our students to be used like this?
Then there’s this excerpt from the article:

Brizard bristled when asked whether he considered it safe to send teachers into crime-ridden Chicago neighborhoods.

“Our kids go there every single day, so why not?” he said. “As a teacher, I visited schools. I visited homes. I worked in Bushwick, Brooklyn. It was not a cupcake neighborhood. If our kids go there every single day, why shouldn’t our adults be there, too?”

In other words, we must go where our poor children live. How noble. Doesn’t the mayor wonder why the children live in these unsafe communities in the first place? Ah, this was not the moment to defend children, this was the moment to use children to defend adult decisions.

I could go on, but I won’t. To think that the politicians, media, and school officials are getting away with this is difficult for me to accept. It’s wrong. If these adults truly cared about these children, they wouldn’t use them to push their agendas. This is child exploitation. It needs to stop. At least that’s what the voices in my head keep sayin’.