FourSee Faculty Post: Reinvention 5-Year Data

Posted on behalf of Michael Heathfield and FourSee Math Faculty:


Here is a very disturbing graphic that will not be appearing at a Board Meeting anytime soon.  It paints a dramatic picture of what Reinvention has delivered for some of our students, communities, colleges and colleagues. Does it look good to you?

FTE Change







Some wiser heads predict this picture will get even more disturbing once fall 2016 registrations are factored into the frame.  Campus Zero is quick to ascribe falling enrollment to a recovering economy and improved employment. Of course, it would be heresy at Campus Zero to refer them to solid statistical evidence that for the middle class, the working class, and the poor the “recovery” did not indeed lift them up to where they were before the Great Recession.  These R words cover a mass of complexity, which is an anathema to the political class. These are dangerous blanket words in the wrong hands: Recession, Recovery, Reinvention and, lest we forget at our peril, Recruitment and Retention.







Mike Heathfield & Math FourSee faculty

A Call for Partners in Resistance: Amanda Loos Published in Praxis

Check it HERE

One particularly good part:

Why this is about social justice, and not just another love-hate quarrel between faculty and administration
The corporatizing of higher education is a national epidemic; community colleges are especially susceptible given their history as vocational institutions and the common misperception that this is their sole mission in a capitalist economy. While my colleagues and I have grown exhausted resisting its detrimental effects in and out of the classroom, CCC Administration and Board seem to have fully embraced a business model, failing to work with a willing faculty body as partners in self-reflection and change rather than steamrolling a “degrees of economic value” agenda.

And there is a great deal at stake.

By isolating programs geographically, CCC is continuing Chicago’s legacy of further disenfranchising already marginalized communities. The no confidence resolution issued by District Wide Faculty Council (FC4) emphasizes a fundamental disagreement between the Board/Chancellor and faculty on the mission of CC’s. It backs away from saying (though my colleagues have said it elsewhere) that these decisions reinforce Chicago’s racial, class, language, and gender divisions and segregation…

It doesn’t have to be this way – in fact, just the opposite. By meeting a basic right of access to education and, by extension, earning power, critical thinking, communication and problem-solving skills – CC’s can be a space where students become more aware of their own agency and empowered to resist systemic oppressions.

The potential for social justice extends far beyond personal/individual goal-attainment.

Read the rest. It’s worth the effort. I feel so proud and lucky to be her colleague.

The Chancellor’s Address (Yesterday) to the City Club of Chicago

In which, the Mayor reminds everyone of what a terrible job we were doing educating a student he met in 2011 (based on pretty much nothing other than his own sense of things and our graduation rate) before announcing the new Start Scholarship partnerships with 4-year schools and offering an easy, but fallacious, equivocation between improved completion rates and “improved educational quality,” before introducing the Chancellor who announces our “preliminary” (but impressive) numbers for 2015, explains the strategies of reinvention, and engages with various criticisms of Reinvention and ‘Consolidation’ using textbook examples of various fallacies including:

~”Straw Person” (26:00–has anyone made the claim that “students don’t travel out of their neighborhoods to attend one of the City Colleges”? I don’t think that’s the point that’s been made in various critiques of consolidation. That’s obviously false. The question/doubt is about whether Child Development students will travel to Truman, which is a very different question);

~”False Dichotomy” (at one point the Chancellor says that to help students out of poverty, we must choose to provide “quality over proximity” as if the two were suddenly mutually exclusive? Can’t we provide both? If not, somebody should tell Starbucks that their business model is deeply flawed);

~and more (How many can you find?) before building to a final argument that  manages to take credit for student success on account of changes and supports that have resulted from Reinvention while deriding critics for their calls for various forms of student support. Because students need to learn the lessons of tough love. They have to want it, be hungry and make it work. So, people who provide things for students that they need are “innovative” while people who criticize those plans or ask for other kinds of supports are excuse-makers. I should try this with my classes. “I have provided you with everything you need. If you say you need more than or other than what I have provided you, I will know you are a whining excuse maker. Toughen up! It’s true that I have provided you with no textbook, but I needed no textbook and so it can be done. Make it work.”


My favorite quote? Speaking of Mayor Emanuel, the Chancellor says, “Neither of us have time for complicated deliberations when decisive action is required.” (13:55). That made me laugh out loud. In truth, this Chancellor and her Reinvention have accomplished many good things; our Student Services were a MESS for years after decades of neglect and administrative impairment, and they are much improved (or at least much expanded and much more attended to). They have some significant evidence of achievement, it’s true. It is, perhaps, too much to ask that a little intellectual honesty be invited along for the ride down victory lane. Anyway, you should watch this:

A statement from the Child Development Faculty

This following statement was presented to the City Colleges of Chicago Board of Trustees on 9/3/15 by Jennifer Asimow on behalf of the Child Development Faculty:

The Child Development faculty team disagrees with the City Colleges of Chicago District decision to consolidate the Child Development programs to Truman College by closing the programs offered at Daley, Harold Washington, Kennedy-King, Malcolm X, and Olive-Harvey colleges.

The faculty team disagrees with this decision for the following reasons:

1. This will create undue burden on Child Development students, the majority of whom live on the south and west sides of the city. It is difficult, and in many cases impossible, for students to travel so far north when most of them are working parents.

2. This will create a burden on the profession, particularly for agencies located on the south and west sides that have routinely sent their employees to City College programs within or near their communities.

3. This removes Child Development faculty from the various communities where they have spent years building collaborative partnerships with agencies for practicum placements and ongoing observation hours. This profession is relationship based and proximity matters.

4. The decision to close so many programs did not involve input from faculty, who serve not only as content experts, but also as direct contacts to the profession. When Child Development faculty have requested the data that show how this decision benefits Child Development students or the colleges, that request has been repeatedly denied. The degree to which faculty input has been ignored in major decisions regarding large programs in the CCC system is unacceptable.

Part of our mission states, “Through the power of education, we inspire and transform the lives of our students and those connected to them, enhance the communities we serve, and catalyze positive socio-economic change.” To this end, child Development faculty have spent decades building nationally recognized programs in six separate City Colleges. They have spent years building relationships with partners in the field within those City College communities. Most importantly, they have spent years serving students from every area of the city. The decision to remove access to high quality Child Development programs from the south and west side communities takes City Colleges away from the mission by removing access to nationally accredited, thriving programs for many students of color who live and work in the poorest communities of our city. These are the very communities that need programs like Child Development. As a faculty team with expertise in the field of Early Childhood Education, we are in agreement that this decision does not serve our city well. We can do better.

For the past twelve years, the Child Development faculty has worked closely together as a discipline team along with their Advisory Councils including prominent representatives from the Early Childhood field. We have re-written and revised our entire curriculum (twice) as a District level team. We have all gone through outside accreditation and each program has earned national recognition. We have a documented track record for not being afraid of change, and for being willing to work very hard to create high quality programs for our students who will serve young children and their families. In short, CD faculty are an excellent group to work with and can potentially serve as a shining example of District level cooperation and participation in shared governance.

The purpose of this statement is to communicate to the CCC community that the Child Development faculty disagrees with the consolidation decision. Shared governance is built on trust, and trust involves reviewing the communication process objectively in order to build a stronger relationship. Moving forward, the faculty will work toward building a high quality Child Development degree program at Truman College. At the same time, we certainly hope that the Chancellor will reconsider the full consolidation decision and meet with us to discuss possible alternatives such as offering satellite programs or other opportunities for south and west communities to have direct, face-to-face access to education in Child Development through the City Colleges of Chicago. This can serve as a model for programs across the District.

We can work together to make this happen.

Respectfully submitted,

The Child Development faculty team, City Colleges of Chicago

An Argument for Democratizing Knowledge in America

I just read a book “Back to school: Why everyone deserves a second chance at education” by Mike Rose.

Back to School book cover

The students described in this book could be my own and I find that rather refreshing in a book about higher education!

There was something really powerful about reading the words of students like mine in the pages of this small book. It reminded me that our students all have various reasons for being in our classrooms:

To be a role model for my kids. To get a career to support my daughter. I don’t want to work in a crappy job all my life. I want to learn to read and write. I want to have a better life

I teach in the Child Development program. I’ve always thought of my courses as serving both academic and occupational goals, and I have treated both goals equally. We are a career program, and yet the intellectual life of my students is extremely important to me. I want my students to experience many and varied opportunities for cognitive growth in their time here. I also have a higher responsibility to the young children my students will ultimately serve so I work hard to make sure my students understand developmentally appropriate practices in the profession of early childhood education. This book has reminded me of the importance of developing an academic intellectual life, but it has also reminded me of the intelligence of occupational work.

It’s midterm by the way, in case you haven’t noticed! This is the time in the semester when many of us lament that students are unable or seem unwilling to take advantage of the support resources available to them such as office hours, tutoring, and the like. The book helped me to remember that my personal approach to learning in terms of actively seeking information and forcing myself to take charge of my own educational experience by any means necessary can be really different from how students approach my class.

As Rose states,

Many students with privileged educational backgrounds are socialized from day one to seek out resources and engage members of institutions to help them attain their goals. This seems so much like second nature to most academics that we forget that it is a culturally influenced, learned behavior.

…teaching is more than transmitting a body of knowledge and set of skills but also involves providing entry to the knowledge and skills and tricks of the trade necessary for fuller participation in learning.

It’s a quick read, but it has inspired me to think differently about my students and my teaching. I think it’s worth a look. Let me know if you want to borrow it!

PEARL Weighs In

On “College to Careers;” check it out:

Emanuel minces no words in making it clear that he is talking about a two-tier higher education system. One for the children of the elite, plus a minority of working class students made up of those lucky enough to sneak in, who will be able to secure a bachelors degree or more. Then there is the rest of our children who will be led down a cattle chute into the lower rungs of the work universe…
During his ECC speech Emanuel conflated the role of community colleges after WWII with what he is proposing as his new scheme.
“Community colleges were the catapult for the World War II generation coming home from the battlefield, the generation of Americans who became the most productive and economically expansive in American history. They can serve that same function in the 21st century.
Tonight, we charge our community colleges with a new mission: to train the workforce of today for the jobs of tomorrow; to give our students the ability to achieve a middle class standard of living; to provide our companies with the skilled workers they need.”
This is misleading at the least, dishonest at its worst. After WWII, communities colleges, under a President Truman directive, became the democratizing bridges for working class students to secure bachelors degrees and join the ranks of the many teachers, engineers, etc. required to build the U.S. economy through the longest economic boom this country has ever had. Under Emanuel’s plan that bridge is destroyed, and a diverging road is being built into a vocational training cul-de-sac. In this highly racially segregated city, the neighborhoods where the Olive-Harvey and Daley Colleges reside are overwhelmingly African American and Latino, respectively. The turning of these two colleges into strictly vocational schools severs the path for these students to go on to obtain a bachelors degree or a profession. Even if not consciously intended, the outcome will be a racist tracking of Black and Latino young men and women away from a genuine higher education degree.

There’s more. Go HERE for the whole thing.