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.

Think, Know, Prove: Reinvention Remediation Proposals

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.

I promised this topic as a TKP a long time ago to someone (sorry; I’m too lazy at the moment to search for the comment and promise), and in light of FC4 President Polly Hoover’s address to the board this week, it seems like a good time to follow through on it.

The subject is “The Reinvention Remediation Proposals.” Maybe you’re wondering what they are? Ok, here are a couple of places to go if you’d like to get informed before weighing in: go HERE (and check out pages 52-100).

What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?


Think, Know, Prove: College to Careers (The Mayor’s Thing)

Ok, so I tried to Don’s thought experiment and I read the Mayor’s press release, and I read Mayor Emanuel’s speech after my dad’s boss (who was there, I think) sent it to him to send to me. And, even though I flinched in spots (e.g., “Riding the El six weeks ago, I met a young man who was commuting from Harold Washington Community College where he studies business and computers to his job at a Target warehouse. That young man is doing everything right. He’s studying, he’s holding down a job. He is doing everything we can ask of him to give himself a better shot at a future. So when he puts Harold Washington on his resume, that should mean something to his employer. It should have economic value to him. The basic agreement is you take responsibility, and we’ll provide you opportunity. That young man is taking responsibility but we are not living up to our side of the bargain. Can we honestly say to ourselves that we are doing everything we can for him, that he is getting the best from us? When he walks into a job interview, and it says Harold Washington or Malcolm X College on his resume, his hard work should pay-off. If we work together, starting tonight, it will.” Oh! Nice to know that those degrees will mean something in the future, you know, once the Mayor and his people are “doing everything we can for him.” Grrrrrr. But I digress.), when I got to the end, I thought, “O.k. It’s not the speech I would give, but, well, maybe some good will come out of it.”

And over the next couple of days…weeks…I kept thinking about it. I kept talking myself out of being annoyed, even outraged, at aspects of the thing, saying to myself, this whole plan could very easily be in addition to our college credit/liberal education mission. Certainly, it must be a buffering of resources, and not merely a trade out. It’s not politically viable, I reasoned to myself, to close the doors to affordable college in this day and age to a huge swath of under-served citizens. I tried to live by the Principle of Charity and hear the whole thing generously, considering the audience to whom the Mayor was speaking and so on and so forth, and still, I couldn’t quite put my doubts to rest.

Then I talked to a friend of mine who is close to someone who worked on the Mayor’s transition team and apparently has been making suggestions about the City Colleges. My friend started asked why there shouldn’t be a community college level charter schools. There was more, which I’ll spare you, and the evening is somewhat fuzzy due to the blood pressure spike, but suffice it to say that the whole thing has been gnawing at me for weeks now.

I recognize that EVERY community college is a multi-missioned institution and that at HWC, we tend to think of the City Colleges as college-credit institutions because that’s primarily what we are (whereas Daley, for example, has almost as many Adult Ed students as credit students), and  I know that CCC credit faculty tend to be a bit myopic about our mission (as in it is THE mission). I know these things and I love them, since they, as Metoyer once put it, are the indicators of how invested we are in the success of the college and the students who go here.Furthermore I recognize that there is probably a lot that can and needs to be done at every level and toward every aim of the college (pre-credit, adult ed, career skills, and college credit) to improve both our numbers and the community we serve. I know all of this, and yet. And yet.

It bothers me that in the Mayor’s speech about the City Colleges the word he used in reference to what we do was “train” not educate (see page 6 of his speech). Educate, famously, is derived from the Latin word for “leading out.” I’ll let you work out the rest.

It bothers me that he (and the CCC administration) toss around that 7% graduation number as if it tells the story of the institution’s effectiveness when it clearly doesn’t if subjected to the mildest critical scrutiny.

It bothers me more that the local press is willing to repeat that number and the associated claims without even bothering to so much as reword the sentences from the press releases a little.

Then, it really bothered me to read THIS crap (we’re number LAST in the state!):

Almost a million students enroll in Illinois community colleges each year, seeking a more affordable and accessible alternative to traditional four-year universities, to try to learn new skills, or to brush up on old ones.

But fewer than 1 in 5 first-time students who take full loads of classes graduate with associate degrees within three years — a statistic Lt. Gov. Sheila Simon says creates “revolving doors to the unemployment line.”…

Among the colleges that graduated the fewest students within that time period are the City Colleges of Chicago. Malcolm X College fares the best out of city schools with 11 percent of full-time students completing a degree within three years, while Harold Washington College ranks last in the state, with just 4 percent of students reaching that goal.

City Colleges spokeswoman Katheryn Hayes said those kind of numbers are why the system has embarked on a plan to reinvent itself. The administration searched for new presidents at many of the schools.

“We are working to shift the paradigm around our community college system from an institution focused solely on access to one that couples student access with success,” Hayes said in a statement.

Setting aside the fact that the story buries (at best) or ignores (at worst) the reasons behind the statistics and seems to endorse the Lt. Governor’s (partial at minimum) attribution fallacy, I am reminded that whenever John Wozniak mentioned that stat, our state low or near-low graduation rate, which has been true for us for quite awhile, he could and would always say that we ranked right at the very top of student transfers. I don’t know what his data source was, but I don’t think he’d have said it if it weren’t true. Of course information like that would disrupt the narrative and that wouldn’t do, I guess.

Finally, it bothers me to read THIS:

Addressing mayors from across the country, Chicago’s Rahm Emanuel on Friday touted his plan to transform the City Colleges of Chicago by tailoring the curriculum at individual campuses to meet employers’ needs for workers in fields such as health care, computer science, transportation, hospitality and manufacturing…

Talking about Chicago, Emanuel said the CEOs of companies large, medium and small were so enthusiastic about the program that he has trouble absorbing “all the enthusiasm.”

He said at the end of four years, six of City College seven campuses would see their curricula revised and tailored for specific growth fields.

And so, I am left to wonder, what the hell does all of this mean? What is this thing, this “College to Careers” program, all about?

What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?

Did You See It?

A story on Inside Higher Ed about CCC was their third most viewed story this week. I found it through the Truman Lounge link, which reader/contributor Chris was kind enough to forward along to me by email.

Here’s the lede:

If low graduation and student transfer rates at City Colleges of Chicago don’t start improving, the system’s leaders could lose their jobs. That’s because the formal job responsibilities of the chancellor, presidents and even trustees include graduation rate goals.

The focus kind of shifts from there to Reinvention and yet more flaunting of teeth-grinding inducing statistics (though the author provides more context for them than any of our local “journalists”/press-release dictation specialists have over the last year), plus comments from Polly Hoover, and other stuff.

It’s worth reading. Check it out HERE.

h/t to Truman Lounge and Chris.

Sunday Reading

An update from Reinvention: as posted on the Reinvention blog, the Recommendations from the Spring have been updated (and expanded/specified).

Check out the full, current state of the recommendations HERE. And the associated “justifications” HERE.

And if you see something good, please note it in the comments; and if you see something not good, please note it in the comments.

And I have a suspicion that at some point in the near future it may be critical for us to know what the Reinvention proposals and research say so that we can A) understand what’s coming when it comes; or B) fight what comes because it’s based on bad reasoning/data; or C) fight what comes using their research and data.

When I know more, I’ll say more, but let’s just say that now would be  a good time to get educated about what’s going on. There’s no time like the present, as they say.

Child Development News (And It’s Good!)

You might remember that there’s been a bit of a thing going on with Child Development (as described in part here and here). Well, that all appears to be over now. I received this email last Friday from Jen Asimow:

Hi Dave, thought you might like to know that we had our district-wide meeting today where we were told by Alvin Bisarya that our program will not be “sun setted” and is safe.

He was also quite sincere when he told us that they learned a lot from working on the Child Development program, specifically that faculty need to be involved from the beginning, the recommendations should NOT be presented as “a fait accompli” and that faculty should be considered  “experts” in their respective fields.  I think this bodes well for the future work of the Reinvention teams responsible for program review.

For the first time since this entire thing started, the meeting felt collaborative.  It is amazing what can be accomplished when people and their programs are not being threatened.  I feel quite hopeful about the future of CD at CCC.

Huge credit goes to Jen and her CD colleagues across the district who didn’t just resign, and didn’t just freak out, but gathered their resources and made the case that they know their program and know their students and do great work. They gathered statistics, talked to experts, and developed responses to the questions and suppositions of the Reinvention team (who, it should be said, were undoubtedly working in good faith based on the research they had to come up with what they thought was the best thing for our students), and they did it all over the last six weeks while running their programs and teaching their courses.

Big credit, too, goes to the Reinvention leaders for, it would seem from here, being reasonable and persuadable, rather than merely digging in to get a Pyrrhic victory. As frustrating as the central administration has been at times, I think we have to give them credit for (seemingly) learning from their mistakes and (at least in this case) playing by their own rules. For example, our first DWFDW was awful; the second was better and clearly responsive to the complaints about the first. This first go around with Reinvention Proposals has been varied, but I trust Jen when she says that the outcome felt collaborative (even if it was a bit late in coming). We may all have to defend our programs at some future time. I really don’t have a problem with that. It’s good to know that if we make a good case for our program, we’ll get heard. Let’s all make sure that we know our areas as well (and are doing as good of a job running our programs) as the CD people.

And when you see them, you might want to say, “Well done.”

Tenure Process Proposal Feedback

As I mentioned yesterday, this semester’s Teaching and Learning Reinvention team is working on the tenure process, and as many of you may remember, this is an issue that is near and dear to my own heart and it’s come up a few times in the last couple years, too, like here and here and here and here.

Jennifer Meresman (English) is working on that team and wrote asking if I could post the following for her (which I’m delighted to do):

As part of Reinvention, my colleague Michael Maltenfort posted a “conversation starter” about tenure to the Reinvention blog. We are in the process of fleshing out the plans created by last semester’s task force, but we have left the questions very open ended to allow people to share any general (or specific) thoughts. We would love to hear more voices from the HWC community.
If anyone would like to share thoughts with me directly, please feel free to email me:
I look forward to hearing from the HWC community!
Jeni Meresman
And that’s not the only place you can and should give some feedback–the Provost’s blog is featuring a discussion on the tenure process, too (along with discussion about the Post-Tenure process) and there are five comments already, as of Thursday afternoon.
I have met a lot of people who have been associated in one way or another with our tenure process, and I have never heard anyone, not ANYONE describe it in even mostly (as in 51%) positive terms, and typically people had five to six negative things to say to any ONE positive and the most common positive comment was, “It’s over.”
This is a great opportunity–Alicia Anzaldo (Wright) and Franklin Reynolds (Truman) did a great job putting together an initial proposal with lots of really great stuff in it, and Jen and Michael are undoubtedly capable of improving further upon their fine starting point. So please, I’m begging now, take a minute to talk online about your own (or someone else’s) experiences going through the process or making some suggestions about what the process could look like. This is a real chance to change something about our work life that was awful for almost all of us and is awful for many of our current colleagues (faculty and administrators alike), and will be awful for future colleagues unless we seize the chance to change it.
Please do.

Think, Know, Prove: Child Development (Continued)

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.

So it’s been a few weeks now (‘mazing how the time flies, eh?) but I haven’t forgotten about the incomplete discussion we had/started about Child Development, Reinvention, and pants made out of lampshades.

If you missed it, you should go HERE first and give the comments a quick read through if you can. If you’d rather not, the short and incomplete version is that one of the Reinvention proposals from the Program Portfolio Review team was the suggestion that, “Opportunities exist to expand our Child Development programs and increase the articulation to 4 year schools,” which, in concrete terms, looks different to different people. The dispute about what is being proposed revolves around the AAS degree in Child Development. Leighton O’Connell-Miller (the team leader for the task force) suggests that the proposal means encouraging students to complete the Basic Certificate so they can enter the workforce while pursuing further education and that the “further education” they would be pushed to pursue would be an AA degree (rather than a generally non-transferring AAS degree), which he and his team suggest will be better for students due to changing market preferences and requirements.

The Child Development faculty and a few others (I’ll put myself in that category), see the proposal in somewhat different terms. To them (us?), the AAS degree is an example of one of the things CCC currently does quite well, by the criteria of Reinvention. The program has solid numbers—both pursuers and completers—it’s one of a few programs to have achieved separate accreditation, their graduates learn a lot and get jobs when they’re done. The AAS degree has a general education component, but there are fewer requirements, and to get the degree students must complete a series of 8 Child Development classes that include, for example, supervised field work, most of which could not be a part of an AA degree (but would likely, instead, be completed by the student at their transfer destination rather than with us). In short, it seems that emphasizing the Basic Certificate and AA would mean, minimally, steering students away from the AAS degree and, if the decision was made to sunset the AAS degree, that it would mean a gutting rather than an expansion of the Child Development program.

There’s more, of course, lots more, actually, but I think that’s the heart of the dispute. The view of the team (as expressed by Leighton) seems to be that the AAS degree will not be destroyed but “transformed” through a curriculum development project that would allow for the content and skills from the AAS specific courses to be integrated into AA Gen Ed requirements in the form of modules or maybe disciplinary emphases. So, the success of the proposal is predicated on the development of an AA degree with Child Development curriculum built into it.

In other words, the proposal is really a curriculum proposal.

So, given that curriculum development is the purview of faculty, what do the faculty experts in this curricular area think of the possibility of such a curriculum? I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that they don’t think much of the idea. Speaking as a teacher of general education courses, I’d have to concur. I might be able to teach a class in Ethics or even Introduction to Philosophy that has a Child Development emphasis, but what that means would be a far cry from what the students learn or do in the Child Development classes, and I’d be inclined to say that people who think it can be done likely don’t understand what the goals of a class in Ethics (or Child Development) is. Just mashing the two together would require unacceptable compromise on what the course is and means and what its role in students’ General Education is supposed to be.

Furthermore, the AA is touted by Leighton as being the better route (as opposed to working to make the AAS more transferrable—the faculty preference) owing to its “instant IAI articulation.” But that IAI articulation is dependent on the students having taken the IAI approved general education courses, not some new hybrid version. And anyone who’s submitted a course to IAI knows that they are super squirrelly about any sort of non-general focus. For example, we tried to get IAI approval for a course in Jazz Appreciation for about three years without success. Why? They said that the focus on Jazz was not general enough (which if you know anything about Jazz is laughable). So what are the chances that a general education course with a major Child Development component would be IAI approved? Not likely, I’d say—which brings us back to the starting point.

In his comments, Leighton suggests that this model is viable, using the model of a legal writing course in Child Law or Intellectual Property Law, but without noting some significant differences between the GECC and a core law school course—among them the fact that law schools don’t have to have their courses approved by anyone else, and a host of others. (Brief digression: Furthermore, I wonder about the curricular purpose of those courses, i.e., whether students take them in order to explore an are of the law that they might be interested in, or whether it is a starting point (but not meant to be the only substantive exposure to the field) or whether the student takes that section and figures, “I know that field” and so moves on to others, and finally, what employers think of those sorts of courses. In other words, I have lots of questions). It seems to me that there are more relevant dissimilarities than relevant similarities in that analogy, and, besides, if I’m right about IAI, it’s a moot point.

Thus, no matter what the “intention” of the proposal might be–and setting aside the metaphysics/semantics of whether the AAS is being “developed” or destroyed—the end results seems a lot more likely, to me, to be a gutted program rather than an expanded one.

Leighton talks about the proposal being sort of like a proposal to sew pockets onto pants and turn them into cargo pants, but it seems to me like they’re saying something more like this. Imagine a company that makes regular pants, cargo pants, and backpacks, and the company’s best seller is the cargo pants line. Imagine one day that the Marketing manager walks in saying, “Pants are great and pants with pockets are great and backpacks are great at carrying things, even better than pockets. So let’s stop selling cargo pants and, instead, tell our customers that if what they like are the pants, they should buy the plain ones with no pockets, because that’s all they need. But for the ones who want to carry stuff, we’ll sew six backpacks onto pants to be the pockets. With backpacks as pockets people won’t need backpacks anymore, nor lunchboxes or grocery bags or anything, and they’ll be able to carry all of their stuff in their pants. So we’ll simplify our pants design into ‘basic’ and ‘transformed’ and stop selling cargo pants and backpacks.”

What do you think will happen to that company? I have my prediction.

The Reinvention team also points out that A) the students (in my analogy, the marketplace) actually want a four year degree, and not a two year one (on the evidence of surveys of incoming students), and B) that the AAS students suffer from transfer credit loss (or would if they transferred), and C) that the employers are increasingly requiring four year degrees.

I’d be more persuaded by A if the students surveyed were at the end of the program rather than the beginning. When I went into my Master’s program, I would have said, “I want a Ph.D,” largely because I didn’t really understand what that meant. At the end of my program I would have said that, while a Ph.D. would be nice, it was not what I really wanted. If you asked me what I wanted when I enrolled in undergrad, I would have said, I want to go to law school, but three years later that wasn’t true at all. I have students who say all kinds of things about what they want when they come in and who, upon learning more about the field or job or requirements, not to mention about themselves, change their minds.

I’d be more impressed with B if the case could be made that this transfer credit loss is actual rather than hypothetical. Are there students who try to transfer with the AAS? If so, where do they go? How many of them find themselves losing credits? How many credits? That students might lose credits if they were to transfer is a very different sort of “problem” than if students do lose credit when they transfer.

And I’d be more impressed with C if I saw more evidence of it in the external interviews. In the slides I see Barbara Bowman say that the BA is crucial for anyone who wants to be something other than a teacher aide or child care worker (i.e., teacher?). But that doesn’t say that the AAS will keep people from getting jobs as child care workers. Actually, it seems to be the opposite. Tom Layman says that CCC is a crucial pipeline for childhood workers and counsels against disruption of the program. I’ll admit that I don’t know anything about Bright Horizons or, really, the rest of the hiring market—my point is just that I don’t see the same overwhelming consensus that Leighton and company seem to.

And so, you might wonder, what has gone on in the intervening month since the proposal controversy and our interesting dialogue about it? Well, to me, this is the most troubling part about the whole thing. The Child Development faculty wrote and sent a letter to the Chancellor and her colleagues (including our new Provost and Leighton, I’m told). The letter was respectful and expressed their unanimous objection to the team’s recommendation, and counter-proposed maintaining the AAS degree and Advanced Certificate. They also requested a meeting to “discuss common areas of agreement, input and information from local and state agencies, and our clinical colleagues in the field.”

UPDATE: To date, to my knowledge, they have not received a response. (See comments below–they are scheduled to meet and present on Wednesday at 226.)

And so, after all that, I reopen the conversation (a day late—sorry about that), saying: What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?

Think, Know, Prove–Childhood Development

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.

What the hell is going on with Childhood Development? I read the Reinvention Proposals, but missed what, apparently, is a big one, from what I hear, with respect to one of my favorite programs.

I saw yesterday, that there’s an additional post on the Reinvention site–a presentation on the “supporting findings” showing the Reinvention Task Forces research and supporting data (that wasn’t up a few days ago), but I haven’t had a chance to read through it yet. Maybe you have?

What do you think? What do you know? What can you prove?

UPDATE (8/18): Bumped up for and because of ongoing discussion