Monday, April 20, 2015

     Denizens of IVC received this "advisory" today from IVC Campus Police.
     It's the cops' response to recent thefts.
     Here's what they've got: slogans. Namely,
"If you see something, say something." 
"Take it, lock it, or hide it."
     That last one reminds me of the NHTSA's remarkable "Click it or ticket!" slogan, part of their ongoing "Mottos for Morons" campaign.
     Such is the advice offered by the campus gendarmes. I bet they studied their "Law Enforcement Handbook of Stupid Sayings" all morning to come up with that stuff.
     Gosh, that inspires me to come up with similarly helpful advice:
"Trouble with your lock? I be over with my Glock."     
"Bein' hectored? Get a German Shepherd!"      
"When we spot a jerk, we generally go berserk."      
"See a thief? Call the chief!"      
"Victim of an unsub? Well, we got self-protection clubs!"
          "When a student runs amok, we ride our armored truck!" 
          "Trouble in you class? We'll bring tear gas."

          "Always be prudent, frisk every student!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

DISSENT! Contra anti-intellectualism

Kool-aid drinkers are often unaware of their complete and utter
pitcheresque Kool-aiditude. They become nasty enforcers of the sugary way.
     Sometimes, a student will ask me, “What’s the information we’ll have to know for the exam?”
     I really hate that word, “information.” It’s a small word for small things.
     The word has its place, I suppose. Perhaps you need a phone number. You call "information." Yeah.
     What students learn in a college classroom is not information. To have some notion of the fate of, say, teleology in Western history is anything but “info”! Neither is a grasp of the relevance of Locke’s liberal political ideas to, say, contemporary American politics. Information is small and ridiculous, but these things are rich and sprawling, like sagas and symphonies.
     But there are those who would reduce education to information bits and bytes.

The inevitable forces of anti-intellectualism
Phyllis Schlafly
     The enemies of reason have a way of destroying the good slowly—incrementally and by degrees. Thus it is with education in America. It is endlessly under assault by the forces of anti-intellectualism: all those under-educated educationists, with their useless Ed.D. degrees, who have no conception of logic or evidence; and the business crowd with their notions of widgets and customers; —and the political crowd, especially on the right, who, unlike the others, actually wear their contempt for knowledge and learning on their sleeves.*
     I was trained as a philosopher, and, in any case, I tend to distrust how things strike us at the moment, for we tend to be blind to big and "obvious" problems. It’s amazing how we do that, over and over. Though few seem willing to say it aloud, it is big and obvious that the kind of lousy thinking that has long characterized K-12 reform has invaded higher education. For California's community college instructors, the chief episode of insurgency took the form of new accreditation standards, adopted in 2002, that assume that all educational goals (including what students learn in a particular course) can be captured in “measurable student learning outcomes” (SLOs).
     They can’t.
     At any rate, when the “outcomes” approach (to reviewing and improving education) was adopted by the ACCJC, the new standards were imposed sans evidential backing for the superiority of that approach. The State Academic Senate requested that such evidence be provided. The ACCJC provided nothing, since there was nothing to provide.
     And so, naturally, the “reform” went forward anyway. We’ve been banging our heads against walls and creating dubious “SLOs” ever since. It’s been, and it continues to be, a colossal waste of time and money. Imagine what we could be doing instead?
     I’m sick of it.

One more time
     I’ve been told that, by now, the appropriate studies have been conducted: meta-analytical investigations of comparisons between the “outcomes” approaches and more traditional approaches. And, unsurprisingly, the news is bad for the Kool-aid saturated “outcomes” crowd (not that they'll notice or care). So, once again, a shiny new idea has fogged our minds and busied the world and produced a spirit-sucking fiasco. And, hey, the fiasco continues!
     Here we stand: the strong case against the “outcomes” approach is even better today than in 2002, when the ACCJC rammed “outcomes” down everybody’s throats, amid howls of protest and demands for justification, ignored.
The ACCJC's Babs Beno
     Recently, I instigated and then helped write** a proposed resolution about all this, presented at the recent State Senate Plenary in San Francisco. Essentially, it demanded that the ACCJC provide evidence that its “outcomes” approach is superior to alternatives. Again, the State Senate had essentially done that back in 2002, in a series of resolutions.
     Despite early indications of support for the resolution, it was eventually voted down.
     I’m told that the resolution’s defeat may reflect, not rejection of the basic idea, but of details it contained, including its account of the state of the evidence re the efficacy of the “outcomes” approach. And so IVC’s Academic Senate is proceeding to compose a revised resolution.
     I’m glad. But even if we manage to get the new resolution adopted at the State Senate, it is unlikely that the move will do better this time than it did a dozen years ago. (Who knows.)
     But we’ve got to do something. Maybe we can generate interest in setting things aright.

Better to go along with OBE folly?
     Or no? At such times, there are those who will argue that dissent is pointless, that it is better simply to make the best of a bad situation. Despite the utter wrongheadedness and inefficiency of busying ourselves with the composition of endless silly SLOs, we need to find a way to make the goshdarn effort useful somehow.
     That’s not for me. I can’t help but think about the big picture. I don’t want to look back at this time, twenty years from now, and know that, when the enemies of reason showed up, we laid down our arms, saluted Babs Beno, and joined the march to mediocrity and ruin.

*At first, far right critics of education embraced Outcomes Based Education—probably because they liked the idea of demanding "outcomes." But then they got the notion that it was a cover for all sorts of dastardly worldly and New Age instruction. So they became its enemy.

**Well, I hastily wrote something, which was quickly and faithfully adapted by Senate officers to the resolution format. I take responsibility for any deficits of the resulting verbiage.

Widget production efficiency experts

Interesting articles about the ACCJC’s President, Babs Beno:

• ACCJC prez admits City College got unfair treatment (48 Hills, OCTOBER 28, 2014)

• The elusive Barbara Beno: The story of the person who is behind the move to shut down City College (48 Hills, DECEMBER 18, 2014)
Why We Let Prison Rape Go On (New York Times, opinion pages)
     IT’S been called “America’s most ‘open’ secret”: According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, around 80,000 women and men a year are sexually abused in American correctional facilities. That number is almost certainly subject to underreporting, through shame or a victim’s fear of retaliation. Overall, only 35 percent of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to the police in 2010, and the rate of reporting in prisons is undoubtedly lower still.
     To tackle the problem, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2003. The way to eliminate sexual assault, lawmakers determined, was to make Department of Justice funding for correctional facilities conditional on states’ adoption of zero-tolerance policies toward sexual abuse of inmates.
. . .
     But only two states — New Hampshire and New Jersey — have fully complied with the act. Forty-seven states and territories have promised that they will do so. Using Justice Department data, the American Civil Liberties Union estimated that from 2003 to 2012, when the law’s standards were finalized, nearly two million inmates were sexually assaulted.
     Six Republican governors have neglected or refused to comply, complaining of cost and other factors....
. . .
     According to Allen Beck, senior statistical adviser at the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “institutional culture and facility leadership may be key factors in determining the level of victimization.” Rape persists, in other words, because it’s the cultural wallpaper of American correctional facilities. We preserve the abuse because we’re down with perps getting punished in the worst ways….

Friday, April 17, 2015

From IVC to Ivy League

Good news this morning from the Department of Memorable Students:

Some will remember Sara Ivette Merced. She graduated with distinction from IVC a couple years ago. She transferred (with a full scholarship) to USC to pursue her bachelor's in Psychology with a minor in forensics and criminality.  She graduates this Spring.

Sara was one of our older students, a single mother who returned to school in her early 40s after raising her two children. She was a distinctive presence in Rebel Girl's Writing 1 class for many reasons. Sara's strong sense of social justice was rooted in her pride as a Puerto Rican-American. Her deep joy in scholarship and her intellectual curiosity were inspiring in the classroom and on the page. 

This morning Sara accepted an offer from Columbia (with a most generous scholarship) to study in a Master's program in clinical psychology with a specialty in psychopathology. Her career goal is to work at-risk urban youth.

Columbia! Scholarship! A master's degree!

Footnote: Sara's two daughters, Lauren Winder and Elise Merced, attended IVC as well. Lauren came to IVC before Sara and transferred to and graduated from Berkeley. She now works as an editor.


Here's a link to Rebel Girl's write up of Sara's daughter Lauren, during the days of Occupy at Berkeley:
Occupy Cal: a former IVC Student Reports from Sproul


Wednesday, April 15, 2015

25% of college adjunct faculty get government assistance (Marketwatch)

     A quarter of the growing number of part-timers who are teaching college students need some government help to get by, according to a study from the University of California Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.
. . .
     “It’s shocking, but it’s the reality,” said Carol Zabin, research director at the Center for Labor Research and Education. “Universities are depending much more on part-time and adjunct faculty.”….

Monday, April 13, 2015

IVC Foundation event

     So far, by all accounts, the word is that the IVC Foundation event on Saturday was a big success. Several who attended told me that it was the best such event they had been to in years.
     More later. Rebel Girl attended, and she'll have a fuller report.