Why Do I Think This Will Be Used to Criticize Teachers and Unions?

It’s a puzzler. Wait. No it isn’t.

From the Chicago News Cooperative (published in the NY Times):

City Colleges of Chicago has generated more than $7 million in postemployment sick day payments for about 140 former employees in the last decade, according to records obtained by the Better Government Association.

Wayne Watson, the former chancellor at Chicago’s community colleges, was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the policy — he accrued 500 unused sick days, for which he will be paid about $500,000.

Mr. Watson, who stepped down from the top job in 2009, has already received about $300,000 in sick day payments and he will receive two more annual payments of $100,000. City Colleges records show the system has paid retirees at least $3 million and still owes them $4.2 million.

In addition to Mr. Watson, at least 15 former City Colleges administrators were owed $100,000 or more in unused sick time payments in the last decade, according to records. Charles Guengerich, a former president of Wilbur Wright College on the Northwest Side, was due $309,061 in sick time. Martin Faber, former executive director of business services at Richard J. Daley College on the Southwest Side, was expected to receive $216,973.

On Friday, Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s office ordered City Colleges to halt all payments for unused sick time to Mr. Watson and other former administrators while his office tried to determine whether the money still owed to them must be paid. “The mayor has zero tolerance on this,” said Jennifer Hoyle, a spokeswoman for Mr. Emanuel. “This is not a benefit City of Chicago employees receive.”

Read the rest HERE.

h/t to Michal for the pointer.



As part of the Graduation Outreach Strategy, District Office has
planned a series of activities to promote graduation.
One such activity is
Faculty and Staff Cap and Gown Day!
Faculty and Staff are encouraged to wear caps and gowns on
Thursday, March 31, 2011
in an effort to prompt more students to inquire about and sign
up for the
Spring 2011 Graduation

that will be held on
May 11, 2011 at the UIC Pavilion.
April 15, 2011 is the deadline to file a graduation application. 

Students will pick up their tickets the week of April 25, 2011.
Additional information flyers and posters will be distributed throughout the school.

State Pension Developments

Our retired colleague and former Chapter Chair, Mike Ruggeri sent out another email this week to his list-serv from a few years ago, which not everyone is on, in the hopes of drawing everyone’s attention to an interesting development down in Springfield.

According to this article, House Speaker, Mike Madigan has signaled his potential openness to changing the pension rules for CURRENT public employees (and not just the future ones, crossing a sort of line that was heretofore uncrossed. Here’s the article:

Last April, the Democratic-led Legislature and Gov. Quinn raised retirement ages and lessened benefits in a major pension-giveback package that pertained only to new state hires. It was estimated the move would save the state $220 billion in future pension outlays.

Since then, with the state’s five pension systems underfunded by more than $85 billion, statehouse Democrats have faced calls for deeper pension cuts from Republicans and business leaders who want to freeze existing pension benefits for existing state workers and transition them into an all-401(k)-type retirement program like many companies offer.

“You’ve already changed it going forward,” Madigan said of the pension changes for new hires. “But now we are working on bills that would change it midstream. A state worker would be told, ‘All right, you have a state benefit package up to today. Starting tomorrow, it’s going to be a different deal.’”

The comments may have been a sort of weather balloon to turn up the heat on anyone even thinking of supporting such changes, or they may have been a warning flare of sorts that change is coming to the state employee unions. I’m not sure, but a day or two later, this article followed, suggesting that the state constitution would have to change before any such thing could occur.

Senate President John Cullerton (D-Chicago) told reporters a day after Madigan’s comments that tinkering with the taxpayer-funded pensions awaiting nearly 279,000 active state workers, teachers, judges, lawmakers and university employees likely would lose if challenged in court.

“I think the public should know, and anybody who thinks that’s a solution to the problem, that it clearly is unconstitutional, and it won’t be available to us to solve our pension problems,” Cullerton said.

Regardless it is a development to watch in the Spring session.

h/t to Mike Ruggeri

Tuesday Teaching Question

Tuesday Teaching Question is a regular feature that attempts to get a conversation going about teaching.  Typically, the questions attempt to be very practical.  TTQ is brought to you by CAST.  If you have a question that you’re dying to have featured in an upcoming TTQ, e-mail me at hwc_cast@ccc.edu.

The mayoral race has been heating up and the primaries are a few weeks away (2 weeks from today to be exact).  I’m attempting to get the preservice teachers in my Math for Elementary teachers classes thinking about the impact that the new mayor would have on their future livelihood by asking them to read the candidates education platforms and discuss them.  (Phew, that was a long sentence!)  Anyway…

Are you incorporating the mayoral race into your classes?  If so, how?

To FC4, Love District


Going along with the example set by WIKILEAKS, the following information is being leaked through district faculty council. You might want to ask your local administration why they have not relayed it to us.

Julius Nadas,
secretary FC4

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

1. December 13-16, 2010:  College Success Seminar Training is scheduled to take place at District.  The request for College Success to be part of load is under review

2. December 18, 2010:  All grades must be entered into PeopleSoft no later than Saturday at 2:00 p.m.  Faculty who are experiencing issues should contact the CCC Help Desk by email or by phone 2600.  Also, campus Registrars are available to be of assistance.

3. January 3, 2011, additional advisors and tutors will be hired for each college and will be paid for by an ICCB grant.

4. January 6, 2011:  The Board of Trustees is scheduled to meet at Harold Washington College.

5. January 10, 2011:  Spring 2011 semester starts Monday; spring classes begin Tuesday, January 18, 2011.

6. January 2011: The Upgrade to Blackboard 9.0 will be available.

7. February 15, 2011:  Initial deadline date for I.A.I. five-year Course Review process.  College administrators, Department Chairs, and District Academic Affairs need faculty assistance to complete program reviews.

8. The 2010 CCC Credential Guidelines are attached. If you feel you are qualified to teach courses on some other basis you will need to present the relevant documentation to your VP and ask that it be presented to the district office of Academic Affairs.

9. The spring 2010 Syllabi Audit conducted by the Office of Academic Affairs is attached.

10. Please remember to update your syllabi and upload them to Blackboard for spring 2011 classes.  Syllabi are expected to be available to students no later than the first day of classes.

11. The official CCC Syllabus Template is attached.   2011 CCC Syllabi Template

12. A sample CCC Syllabus is attached.   F09-CHLDDV-109-K-Connor

To FC4, From District Office

Each week, FC4 representatives (and our own FC president (TBD)) will be sent the upcoming events from District Office. Please relay questions and concerns here or to your local FC (or FC4) representatives.

1. November 19, 2010 is the deadline date for online training for faculty to enter their final grades. For face to face training, please check with your College’s Registrar.

2. December 1, 2010 COMPASS test scores will be automatically loaded into PeopleSoft.

3. December 11, 2010 is the last date to enter your final grades on line in PeopleSoft.

4. December 17, 2010 students will have access to one CCC transcript, which will list transfer credit as well as all the credit courses taken from the various CCC’s. A separate transcript for Continuing Education courses will be available.

5. January 3, 2011 testing for foreign language proficiency using the ACTFL or the CLEP will be available at each campus.

6. January 3, 2011, additional advisors and tutors will be hired for each college and will be paid for by an ICCB grant.

7. The CCC catalog is available in three versions: print, CD, and on-line. The Spanish version of the CCC Catalog is under development and may be completed as early as January 2, 2011.

8. Please inform adjuncts about the availability of services to assist at-risk students, especially, tutoring and advising. Students are currently being contacted regarding their mid-term grades.

9. A draft version of the Credential Guidelines, first distributed in 2007, has been updated and distributed to Deans of Instruction and Vice Presidents for their review and comments.

10. Please check with your Dean of Instruction regarding date for submission of your tenure portfolio.

Update to “Your Blackboard Site May be Viewable”

This October 22nd Lounge post informed us that our course sites are now viewable to anyone logged-in to Blackboard, unless the settings have been changed to not allow guess access. For comparison’s sake and because I can be nosy about certain things, I spent some time poking around the syllabi from different campuses. I did the same for CDL syllabi. Guess what I found in the CDL syllabus for one of the courses I teach at HWC? An entire section of my syllabus pasted into theirs–390 of my words, verbatim, that explain the different types of assignments students complete in the course.

After seeing this, I remembered a phone call I received from a CDL instructional designer early last year. He explained that they were updating the syllabus for this class because the textbook they had been using had gone out of print. He then asked me if I would email him my course materials–syllabus, assignments, rubrics, everything I had. I said no, explaining that CDL course design or redesign is something faculty are paid for. A few days later, I received an email from one of the deans at CDL, asking if I would be interested in redesigning the course for a stipend. I respectfully declined. And that was the last I heard about it, until last week when I took a peep at the syllabus on Blackboard and saw that imitation–I mean duplication–is apparently the sincerest form of flattery.

I guess the moral of this scene from Bizarro World is this: don’t ask for what should be offered; just take it.

Think, Know, Prove–Residency

Think, Know, Prove is a regular Saturday 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.

As promised in the discussion under the Union page, I want to dedicate this week’s TKP to the issue raised by slg–namely, the Residency Requirement.

As I stated there, the Residency Requirement is not contractual (although, interestingly, there is union history with the issue), nor is it required (or precluded) by State law (at least not for us).

I learned some interesting things as I poked around on this. First, the requirement is a Board Rule (3.7(a)), which you can check out for yourself at the above link. If you do, you’ll notice some interesting things: employees hired before July 1, 1977 are exempt and the rule has been revised twice (September 2001 and September 2008). The September 2008 revision moved the date for the certifying of your residency from July to February (since we don’t work in July, I think, which apparently only took about 31 years to be a problem). I can’t tell what the 2001 revision was because the board report from that month is not posted on the web site. Not sure why. In any case, the revision involved renumbering and something else, which was likely minor.

The rule has some interesting history, which you can read about (for free) if you’re on campus and do a quick search in the Tribune archives from 1976 and 1977. According to one article, the rule originally passed the Board in July of 1976 (a Bicentennial present!) by a 5 to 1 vote. The lone dissenter said, “An American citizen ought to have the right to live wherever he chooses to live and not as a condition of employment.”

The Union apparently went nuts about it, decrying the costs for employees and the rest; Norm Swenson is quoted in the article saying the rule “violates our rights under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution.”

Clearly, though, the rule was not so much a board initiative as a political one, sent over from City Hall. Earlier that same year, Mayor Daley (Richard J., Richie’s father) ordered a residency requirement for all city employees. The article says “a court decision upheld the order in the cases of police and firemen because they are considered 24-hour-a-day employees.” The board member who introduced the measure claimed that the requirement “would aid in hiring administrators, teachers, and other employees who are highly motivated and deeply committed to an urban college system, and who are more likely to be involved in college and community activities, bringing them in contact with community leaders and residents, and who are more likely to be committed to the futures of the community and City Colleges.” Another article, linked to below, suggests that the rule dates to a City Hall initiative that originated in the 60s in an effort to stem the pervasive “white flight” and shore up the city’s middle class tax base. (There is certainly some support that THIS is the real motivation for the rule, given Mayor Daley’s comments just this week (see below). But I’m getting ahead of myself.)

When it was passed, the rule affected just under 700 employees, including 63 administrators (out of 161), 543 full time faculty (out of 1450), and 64 clerical employees (427). Janitors and security weren’t added until 1980.

(Look at those numbers again. Those are district wide employment numbers. In 1976, there were 9 full time faculty members for every administrator (including district office). According to my math, our college currently has about 5 full time faculty members for each administrator and that is WITHOUT counting anyone from district. Amazing. But I digress.)

The same article mentions that Swenson had plans to make an issue of the new rule in the next contract negotiations in light of a federal judge’s ruling that the board had the right to issue the rule (the judge also ruled that the board had the right to give an administrator $3000 to help cover the expense of moving into the city, even though they were giving faculty nothing–ha!). The Union swung its clout around down in Springfield because eight months later, in August of ’77, the Tribune reports that Republican Governor Jim Thompson signed a bill that prohibited public junior colleges from forcing residency requirements on their current teachers along with another one for regular school teachers. “The bills don’t apply to teachers hired in the future,” the article notes.

Hence the exemption.

From there I couldn’t find a single mention of the City College’s residency requirement, so it must have gone relatively unchallenged after that (there is, you know, a history in the Union of negotiating for current membership at the expense of future membership, but I’ll leave that one, too, for another day). The next bit of news about residency requirements doesn’t turn up until 1980, when the City Council passed an ordinance requiring all Chicago Board of Education employees to live in Chicago. Mayor Jane Byrne refused to sign the ordinance into law on the grounds of her doubts about its constitutionality, but she didn’t veto it either, so it became law.

The Teacher’s Union challenged the ordinance and a weaker Board of Ed rule, but apparently lost on one or both, because in 1996, (as reported in an article written by the Mayor’s current Press Secretary, Jacquelyn Heard), Paul Vallas warned the 4,400 CPS employees who were out of compliance with the rule that he’d be enforcing it. That was just about a year after Mayor Daley (Richard M by then) struck a deal with Governor Edgar and the downstate Republicans to take over the Chicago schools (the board was cut from 15 to 5, the grassroots nomination process was abandoned and the Mayor was given power to name the board members and CEO. Also, they gave him access to money that had formerly been restricted. He then named Paul Vallas as the CEO of the schools and Gery Chico–our recently named, new Board Chair–as the Chair of the School Board).

Six months later, on November 20th, Vallas backed off, offering a reprieve for the 4000 teachers still not complying, and extending the rule to Principals, though that extension would be revoked a few years later.

School teachers apparently tried to do something about the rule (through Springfield legislation) in 2002 and 2007, but to no avail. This year, though, they have found some success. Interestingly, Chicago is one of only two major cities in the country with a residency requirement for teachers. The other is Milwaukee, and they ALSO have legislation in motion to remove the requirement.

As slg noted, a couple of weeks ago, new legislation passed the State Senate that would block residency requirements as conditions of employment for schools. It is my impression, though, that the law would apply to school districts, as in K-12, not community college districts. We are covered in a different area of the Illinois code, and so, I’m pretty sure the law, even if passed, would not affect our rule. The passage, though, is far from guaranteed. Governor Quinn came out the other day saying that he opposed the change, and Mayor Daley got worked up about it at a press conference, too. He is clearly not a fan of any attempt to change the rule, and, so, given that our new Board Chair and most of the Board are Friends of Richard, I’d say it’s exceedingly unlikely–unless I’m wrong about the scope of the bill currently under consideration in the State House or someone decides to propose and pass a similar bill for us–that the rule is going to change because they think it should. You may have wondered why I have included all of the history above? Well, my point is that this rule is a political one and our board is a political animal, and so to gauge the likelihood of our board changing the rules requires at least a licked finger being stuck up in the air to get a sense of which way the political winds are blowing. As in years past, the wind is not a favorable one for changing this rule, I’d say.

The question, at long last, then, is whether WE think it should change. Do we? Do you? I know where Art DiVito stands on it (though I hope he will be moved to pick up his quill and declare his feelings for one and all), but I really have no idea about anyone else. I like living in the city, and I like where I live now, so, to be honest, I don’t think about the rule much except as a kind of abstraction. With respect to the principle of the thing, I am a big fan of autonomy, and so really don’t like the restrictive nature of the rule, especially as real estate prices in the city have skyrocketed, but I also have some sympathy for the idea that we should live as city residents and citizens if we are teaching at City Colleges (and teaching, primarily, City-living students). I don’t like it enough to argue for it, but I don’t dislike it enough to revolt (no doubt, in large part because I’m not negatively affected by its existence, at least not at the moment).

But if there were to be a consensus out there on the issue, one that we could point to and count on, then I think Faculty Council might be able to make something of the issue. We could at least bring it up and talk about it.

So, in regard to the CCC residency requirement, what do you think, what do you know, what can you prove?

UPDATE: Oops. Forgot the poll…

UPDATE 2: A Second Poll, per suggestion in the comments (slightly tweaked)

Math Meeting Update #1

Theresa Carlton, our math reporter, was kind enough to share this summary of the Math Faculty’s mandatory meeting last Wednesday:

John Squires, Chair of the Math Department at Chattanooga State Community College, formerly the Chair of the Math Department at Cleveland State Community College (both in Tennessee), gave a full day presentation on the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) redesign guidelines and the Emporium Model redesign that he established for Cleveland State CC.  The faculty were reserved, quiet and respectful during the first hour of his presentation. Then, Mr. Squires opened the floor for questions.  Being the strong, well-informed faculty body that we are at CCC, poor Mr. Squires found himself peppered with questions about his Emporium redesign, before he even had a chance to give his presentation on it.  He addressed the questions with many “we’ll talk about that later” comments.

Michael Maltenfort of Truman College asked the question that we have all been wondering, “Would you recommend moving the developmental courses out of the hands of the full-time faculty [and into pre-credit] with this redesign?”  Mr. Squires responded that the redesign “does not work without the full-time faculty” and he would not recommend handing these courses over entirely to adjunct faculty.  As the day wore on, Mr. Squires became increasingly frustrated as our faculty brought up Union issues and teaching load requirements.  At one point, Angela Henderson, who was with us the entire day, stood up and said that she would be happy to address these questions at the end of Mr. Squires’ presentation.  This of course, never happened, but the thought was there.

After lunch, in some random, haphazard way, we were put into groups and assigned different classrooms to gather and answer a series of questions:  Would we be willing to begin the redesign with a blank slate rather than simply adopting a pre-existing redesign model? What are some of the problems with the developmental math courses? What are some possible solutions?  I think there were more questions, but given that we only had about 10 minutes to address them, we did not get that far.  We reassembled to share our answers, and then the meeting ended.

So, what am I not telling you?  Well, Keith McCoy (current Faculty Council President and Wright College Math faculty) has taken a position working at the district, beginning, I believe, at the end of this semester.  I had a private chat with Keith in which I learned that the district does not want to use the Emporium model for CCC.  This has to do with Union issues as well as lack of space and computers.  So why was Mr. Squires our guest speaker? Your guess is a good as mine.  What was the point of the meeting? To get us thinking about redesigning our developmental math classes.  As of right now, there is no plan in place, no timeline, no rules.  Basically, the district wants us to “do something”, they don’t care what, as long as it is something kind of dramatic, as opposed to just tweaking what we currently do.  Another faculty member, who spoke with Dr. Lopez, was told the exact same thing.

So, now for my opinion:

Getting the Math Faculty together to discuss developmental math, the problems, the curriculum, and possible solutions is a great idea.  However, we did not get any time to actually do this.  The presentation by John Squires, I felt, was pointless.  An Emporium model of developmental math is not something that we want, nor is it something that is feasible for the City Colleges.  There seemed to be a lot of confusion among the faculty, since administration never made clear the purpose, goals and expected outcomes of this meeting.  Are we supposed to try to adopt the Emporium Model? Are we supposed to come up with our own model? Does each college have to do the same thing, or does our autonomy still hold in this circumstance?  Is there a timeline for this? What purpose did the speaker hold?  Angela Henderson did say that she would answer questions, but then never did, even though the speaker ended 30 minutes early.  Administrative feedback was given to individual faculty, but never to the entire group, so many left not knowing what to do next.

In fact, none of us understood why it was necessary to miss a day of classes for a meeting, that, in all honesty, was a waste of time and money.  The administration would have been better off asking each department separately for ideas on how to improve the developmental math courses, and then after compiling the ideas and distributing them to us to review, they could have brought the faculty together to ask questions, debate, share, and perhaps do something productive.


Thinking About Maxine Greene, and There She Is

So, the other day, I was poking around in my Nikki Giovanni book looking for the poem in the post below, and I found another one she wrote about an old English teacher of hers who introduced her to this great work, which led her to that one, which led her to poetry, and so on. It’s great stuff. Anyway, while reading that, I started to think about Masxine Greene, who is the person I always think about when the topics of literature, diversity, and curriculum come up. The first time I ever read anything by her, it was over my then girlfriend’s (now bride’s) shoulder, and I was dazzled. It was an excerpt from her book, Teacher As Stranger, I believe, and I was hooked. And then, how weird is this, on the same day, the same, very day, I get an email from this society I’m in about a new issue of a journal blah, blah, blah, dedicated to Maxine Greene.

Like it was fate or something.

Alright, I know, I know…it’s a Philosophy Journal, which is not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s called Journal of Educational Controversy, and everybody loves to read about controversy, and, like I said, this month’s issue is dedicated to Maxine Greene, who was unbelievably awesome, and it has great stuff like this in it. (Plus there’s a link to the previous issue which was called, “Schooling as if Democracy Matters” and has an all star philosophy of education lineup, including three of my favorite reads: Bill Ayers, Sharon Todd, and Claudia Ruitenburg)

And it’s free. And it led me to finding Maxine Greene’s Foundation Web site with its sweet library full of stuff that I haven’t read yet (but can’t wait to get into)…

And if you’ve never heard of Maxine Greene, do yourself a favor and check her out.

Developments in Developmental Math (Part I)

Do you know what’s going on with Developmental Math courses? Lots, apparently.

On February 10th, our math faculty received an email from Dean Metoyer informing them of a mandatory, all day meeting of all district full-time math folks at Malcolm X.

The meeting will feature a presentation and workshop by John Squires whose “Do the Math” project won the 2009 Bellwether Award given by the Community College Futures Assembly. Since this meeting is scheduled during a class date, faculty who teach math will need to schedule alternative educational activities for their classes. If faculty choose to schedule a quiz or test for this date, please consider how the College can assist faculty in finding appropriate proctors.

Needless to say, the math faculty members were not overjoyed. One colleague wrote back, saying, “This term, M/W classes already have TWO holidays not shared by Tu/Th classes. How, in the name of quality education, can you force us to be away a THIRD day? There must be another arrangement that can be had.” He also asked for a little background on the presentation and cc’d Perry Buckley, President of Local 1600.

And so there are clearly two issues here: the scheduling of the meeting and the content. The scheduling is the simpler of the two, so I’ll cover it first, here. Apparently Truman faculty have been aware of the meeting for a few weeks, and raised the same issue (regarding the Wednesday schedule). Once everyone else heard about the meeting, they echoed the sentiment, and Perry describes them as “universally furious.” He said that he spoke with (Interim) Chancellor Lewis about the meeting and that she had not realized that students would miss a third class. She promised to “look into it,” and Perry trusts her to do so.

On the same topic, in an email to local Faculty Councils, Keith McCoy, the President of District Wide Faculty Council, addressed the Board on February 11th and raised the issue with them, proposing the alternative of “obtaining faculty volunteers from each college who would attend, as well as, those who do not have teaching obligations at the time of the meeting.” In an email accompanying his address, he wrote to the Faculty Council representatives that he had spoken with Vice Chancellor Angela Henderson, who told him that it was not the intention of District to mandate the meeting, but that that request had come from the ODs meeting (Officers of the District, i.e., College Presidents). As for why it has to be on Wednesday, March 10th, Perry “was told” (he said the passive voice was purposeful) by someone that it is the only day the speaker is available, a point which he, understandably, doubts.

Perry goes on to say, “As these matters are primarily academic they are more the [purview] of Faculty Council rather than the Union. There is no contract language whereby we can grieve a mandatory class cancellation. I would advise all math faculty to consult with Faculty Council President Keith McCoy (Wright) as he is also a math faculty. He may, combined with the unity of math faculty and the Union’s support, be able to find a better date for this meeting.” Both he and Keith McCoy reminded faculty of the rule that always applies to unsavory administrative directives, “Comply.” Tenure does not protect any of us from punishment for insubordination.

If I were in Vegas and could find someone willing to take my bet, I would lay down a big stack of chips on the meeting taking place on March 10th and being mandatory for all Math faculty, which seems to me like a classic case of administrative short-sightedness, guaranteeing an aggravated, hostile audience for what would, under the best of circumstances, be an extremely controversial and challenging proposal. If I were a conspiracist (Ruggeri!), which I’m not, I might even think that it was intentional to create a negative atmosphere so that they could paint faculty as intractable and obstructionist, thereby dismissing any germane academic objections to the proposal. For the life of me, though, I can’t figure out what they were thinking, except to say that they weren’t.

A Preview of the Proposal (and Responses) in Part II coming up this afternoon.

Developments in Developmental Math (Part II)

At least one thing is pretty much certain: the district is moving ahead with a massive redesign of Developmental Math. The first steps were taken at the Board meeting on February 11th, where there were changes made to the pre-credit math classes. Perry Buckley’s (Union President) description of the changes follows; “[t]hese courses, taught now by AFSCME members, will be called the “Foundations” program. The pay will change and the number of hours their workers can work will be reduced.”

He goes on to say that he’s “been told” that it is the district’s intention to move all developmental math courses into the Foundations program (and so, out of the hands of full time faculty). This is an important point. Via HW Math faculty member, Theresa Carlton (lots more from her to come), “Moving the Math 98 and 99 courses into pre-credit will eliminate 50% of the course offerings available to full-time faculty at HW. This number is higher at some of our sister colleges. Given that we have district-wide seniority, the possibility that we may be bumped from courses at our home campuses and be forced to fulfill our load requirement at other colleges does exist.” Perry suggests that the ultimate goal of the mandatory meeting is to sell the Math faculty on the change.

What are these changes, you might ask, other than a change of faculty? Fair question, but first the pitch…

In an email sent Saturday (2/20) afternoon from President Wright President, Chuck Guengerich to Henry Herzog, Wright Local Faculty Council, and the Wright faculty, President Guengerich writes:

We do know however that the vast majority of our students enter with less than college level skills. This is especially true in math where greater than 90% of Wright students enter at the Foundational Studies (formerly pre-credit) or Math 099 level. The vast majority never successfully reach a general education level math course and then will never complete a degree. Even for those who successfully complete math or Foundational Studies only about 1 in 4 succeeds. What it does tell us that we have to redesign math developmental education ( Please note the statistics are similar across the District.)

There have been some interesting new national models that have evolved over the past several years. The model developed by John Squires in Ohio has achieved over a 70 percent success rate and has been duplicated a four other colleges with similar success stories. The Squires model has won two Bellwether Awards at the Community College Futures assembly.

CCC is bringing Mr. Squires to the District on March 10 and all math full time math faculty are being required to attend. As A District and a college we should have a sense of urgency in looking to research and test new methodologies in developmental education.

Keith McCoy, District wide Faculty Council President and Math faculty member, showed his concurrence, broadly speaking with his College President’s message in his address to the board on February 11th, saying:

The completion and success rates out of CCC developmental math courses, including Foundational Studies (formerly Pre-credit), Math 098 and Math 099, are abysmal. I remember a few years ago the district success rate was a low 40% with no one college receiving over 50%. This is a national issue and not just a local one. Many of us, both faculty and administration, have known this from some time and have endeavored to improve these rates to little avail. Now, we have reached the point where change must occur in the developmental math curriculum. It is because of this very need to change that CCC administration is actively looking to redesign our math curriculum and is looking at good practices and successes that are occurring at other institutions. The importance of this need for redesigning of the developmental math curriculum, while presented very credibly by VC Henderson to district faculty council, has not been communicated well to faculty.

Mr. Squires received the 2009 Bellwether Award for Instructional Programs and Services for spearheading Cleveland State Community College’s course redesign project for developmental and college-level math courses. Cleveland state has had remarkable success with this project that truly warrants its review. While I myself have questions and concerns about the project and this project may not entirely fit the needs of CCC, faculty must be involved and engaged in curricular discussions regarding any CCC redesign efforts. Faculty must also be proactive in participating in driving these efforts. Regardless of whether the meeting mandate holds or is altered (I wish for the latter), going forward, I hope that the college presidents will at least relay a better message emphasizing the importance of this meeting and the involvement of all math instructors in this process so that we can all be on board with any redesign efforts.

That last point is one that he reiterated in his accompanying email, saying, “While I understand the importance of this meeting due to the administration moving forward with redesign efforts of developmental math, I think the message may be lost because of the mandate. I truly hope not. Despite any discontented feelings, it is important that math faculty are very much involved in any redesign effort.”

So what does the proposed redesign look like and who are its sponsors? Back to Perry:

The presentation is from the National Center for Academic Transformation. It is a non-profit think tank dedicated to higher ed. Just google them to get to their web site. Note well that their stated mission is a simple dual pronged statement (and I quote): “improve student learning outcomes and (bold mine) reduce the cost of higher education.” Let me repeat: reduce the cost of higher education. Draw your own conclusions.

I further have been told that part of the presentation will include how to use on-line and/or computer programs whereby students can achieve the “same or better results” with little or no teacher involvement. (If not, that is, part of the NCAT agenda.)

Theresa Carlton, who is the co-chair of HW’s Developmental Education Committee, and so is well versed in the relevant issues and research on this issue, provides a nice summary in another email sent yesterday:

I did some research on this “redesign” that Wright seems to be so obsessed with. An article from the Cleveland Daily Banner dated Dec 28, 2008 describes the redesign as a 1+2 format in which there is a one hour class meeting each week and a 2 hour lab session. Each developmental course consists of 10 modules, and students are required to complete one module per week, and are allowed to work ahead. Students take an online quiz after each module and an online final exam at the end of each course. The results of the redesign are that 37 students completed 2 or more developmental courses in one semester. Of those 37, 33 completed intermediate algebra, and 4 completed basic math and beginning algebra. Nine students completed intermediate algebra and a college level math course.

In the project write up, which can be found on the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) website: it states “Faculty productivity rose by 23%. The average student load per faculty member went from 106 to 130 and the FTE teaching load per faculty member went from 21.2 to 26.0. Going forward, faculty members should expect to teach 10-11 sections, work 8-10 hours in the lab, and handle 150+ students each semester…the increased faculty productivity has enabled the department to eliminate the use of adjunct faculty members at the same time that course offerings are actually increased. Overtime loads have been reduced as a result of the redesign project.”

So there’s your description, essentially, of the pitch and the pitchers. Theresa, goes on to provide some analysis, too:

All this really shows is what we already know. Students at the higher level of developmental math are more successful than those who start out at the basic math or beginning algebra levels. There was only one student who began in elementary algebra and was able to complete a college level math course. This does not prove that the redesign works. It proves that that student was misplaced to begin with.

I am not saying that the redesign idea is completely off base or that it can’t possibly work. It is not something that should be forced upon us. Just because one college claims success does not mean that it will work for CCC. Why does the district think that they can enforce mass changes on us without first testing out the idea and seeing if it actually works? What’s wrong with piloting 2 sections over a few semesters and comparing the results to the courses that are run in the traditional format?

A few points that need to be made about the study:

1. These courses were NOT moved into pre-credit where full-time faculty are not allowed to teach them, and students are not allowed to use financial aid.

2. The redesign did not work for the Basic Math course, as clearly stated in the study write up.

3. All of these courses met in a computer classroom for the one hour session and in a designated computer lab that was staffed with faculty and tutors, and available 54 hours each week.

4. Faculty are REQUIRED to teach these courses.

5. Students must be allowed to register for the next course as soon as they complete the current course. This means that if a student completes beginning algebra during week 4 of the semester, they must then register to take intermediate algebra, and be able to begin that new course immediately.

6. The true measure of success is not how many students completed a developmental course, or even the developmental program, but how many were able to successfully complete a college level math course. The study states that the percent of developmental students who successfully completed a college level math course increased from 71% to 76% due to the redesign. No where does it state that this was actually a statistically significant increase. A 5% increase does not seem good enough, especially when they never tell us exact numbers.

7. The biggest achievement that the study claims is being able to cut costs by eliminating faculty, and increasing faculty “productivity”. I’m sure the Union would have something to say about that, which may be why CCC wants to make these pre-credit courses.

In order for the redesign to be effective in the way that is claimed, CCC needs to be able to offer ALL of the resources that the study offered. Do we have sufficient computer classrooms and a designated computer lab that can accommodate our students? Is our registrar’s office prepared to offer students flexible enrollment throughout the semester? Do we have the money and the personnel to place tutors in the tutor center, the math department and in a computer lab for 54 hours a week? In my experience at CCC, the district likes to enforce a change with no follow-through and no assistance to ensure success.