Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Chancellor's Opening Session: live and direct! (Plus: guerrilla action, co-opted)

brochure
     8:45 - It's just started. The student trustee has come up to lead us in The Pledge. We stand and deliver. (Well, I'm standing, anyway.)
     BOT Prez TJ Prendergast now speaks. He is introducing other trustees: Marcia Milchiker, James Wright.
     Prendergast pours forth the usual bromides and such. "Student Success, blah blah blah." Sheesh. "Your work is inspiring and valuable." "Have an exciting year." Applause.
     Chancellor Gary Poertner comes up and gives formal recognition to Dr. Brice Harris, State Chancellor. Applause. Then he introduces his "executive team," et al. Introduces his most trusted "critic," his wife.
     Next: Saddleback Prez Tod Burnett (applause); IVC Prez Glenn Roquemore (applause). Trustee Tim Jemal just arrived (more idiotic applause). (I do think we should think about applauding our applause. Why the hell not?)
     Now Gary introduces VC Bob Brammuci, VC David Bugay, SC Ac. Sen Prez Dan Walsh, IVC Ac. Sen Prez, Kathy Schmeidler, and so on. The usual suspects.
     The room (in IVC's disfigured barn, the Performing Arts Building) is pretty full, I'd say. There are a few scattered seats left.
     Burnett comes up to introduce new faculty at SC. Applause, applause. Blah blah.
     The little brochure that goes with this shindig is slicker than ever before. Nice pics, professionally done, I guess. I inspect it. (See above.)
     ...Burnett is still going. Sheesh! Lots of hires, I guess. Applause, applause.
     Now Roquemore. Introduces IVC's new faculty. Same deal. Lots of applause. Congrats to all.
     Poertner: introduces new administrators and managers. (And some who have changed their responsibilities.) "Don Busche, never goes away." Laughter, applause. On he goes with this stuff.
Harris
     Poertner: introducing presentations. "Our number 1 priority, student success," he says, utterly predictably. Student success and completion, blah blah blah. Goes through goals: blah blah blah. Discusses a new software, Workday. (This is dry, man.) Much better than what we had before, he says. (Gosh, we've heard this all before. Let's hope it's true this time.) He's really doing a sales job on Workday. Good grief, does he own stock in the company? Gosh, Georgetown uses it, too. It must be good!
     Economic and workplace development, blah, blah, blah. Program development for courses at ATEP. We've got approval for IVC's building at ATEP. "We continue to seek funding and partnerships...." Yeah, ATEP's goin' great guns.
     "I'm very pleased with the state of our district." "Our work is great, but our mission is greater." No small job, man.
     Now (he says), let's take a break from this: some music. Two kids are gonna do "Wien, du Stadt Meiner Träume." It's the "Eyes Wide Shut" tune. Suddenly, we're in Edwardian Vienna, and yet it doesn't seem at all like Edwardian Vienna. These kids sound pretty good, though. Applause.
     Introduces State Chancellor Brice Harris. Blah blah blah. Oh good, he got his Ed.D. from Nova Southeastern. Kind of a mail order degree, isn't it? Big applause.

     Harris (who avoids the podium and stalks the stage, evidently planning to use the screen):
     Harris is obviously a good speaker. Talks about his elementary school teacher wife. Tells story of some kid at wife's school who stands next to him and says, "I know who you are and I know who you're here to get." Funny stuff, man. Even a vomit joke. Cool.
     Says will talk about "Tremendous history," "Big challenges," and something else. (He moves fast.)
     Our system here in CA goes all the way back to 1907, based on state statute. We added Voc Ed in 1917. In 1976, community services were included. Etc. He's running through additions and subtractions to our "mission." Nowadays, community services has been marginalized. Hopes that that mission strand comes back.
     Our system is different from the other two (CSU, UC), he says. We're a "confederation." There are 70 districts. Above them is a Board of Governors and the Office of the Chancellor (Harris). (Not much holds it together, I guess.)
     Some say: do away with locally elected boards. But that would be difficult. Cal is a very diverse state, lots of colleges, and they serve very different populations, needs. Our present structure works well for us.
     We get counsel, advice, and influence from many. It's a "very dynamic environment." A daunting challenge (his job). When I took on this job, two opportunities arose: restoring access, enhancing success. He's decided to focus on those.

The "dirty girls" at today's groundbreaking
     We're 14th in the world with regard to the educational attainment of the group just coming out of college. So we're slipping on that score. We're stagnant (while other countries are not). The next generation will be less educated than the one before. That's not good.
     Must increase success. California is important in this regard. One in five community college students in the country are in Cal. 1 in 10 higher ed students are Californians. So "we have to get this right." Improve access, success. We need that to be globally competitive.
     Our high water mark was 2008-9 in access. We've suffered quite a loss since then. Denial of access has to stop.
     Prop 30 helped. Last year's (CA) budget helped. We'll likely have two or three good years out of Prop 30.
     What about student success? We're all very frustrated. If a student comes prepared, then there's a 70% chance of success, which is pretty dang good. But the situation is very different for less prepared students. 74% come to us unprepared for college. There's more troubling news with regard to some ethnic and age groups. We must close performance "gaps" so that we don't leave people behind.
     If you focus on "outcome," as legislators have tended to do, we'll leave people behind, serving only the ones that tend to succeed.
     Remedial course completion rate is improving dramatically, and that's great.
     He discusses the "student success initiative." Increasing college readiness. Often a mismatch between what goes on at High Schools and what is demanded of students at college. English, Math. (For instance, high school students often finish their college math early and don't get back to math until they start college, eighteen months later. No wonder they need a refresher.)
Brown: love 'im or hate
him, he's the Decider
     We need to strengthen support for entering students. But we've taken away some of the support first provided in the 60s. We need to explain financial aid to students so they know what's really in their interests. We need to align course offerings to students' needs. Improve basic skills education. Professional development needs to be improved to help us accomplish all this. Need better leadership in the system (that's for dang sure).
    We have a window of opportunity between now and 2018—because we have stability. Jerry Brown is likely to get reelected (like him or no). The Democratic majority in legislature will likely continue. We'll see financial stability as well (Prop 30). Legislature previously told us how to succeed. Now we're on the same page, and they just want us to succeed, leaving the how to us. Restoration of access, improvement of student success. We all share these goals in the system.
     There remain other big challenges. But now: restore access, improve success.
     We need to stay focused! Harris seems to mean business.
     We can and will succeed, he says.
   
     It was a very good presentaton, I think. Big applause. Harris does inspire some confidence, in my opinion. He doesn't speak in acronyms and buzz words. He speaks in plain English and he seems to know the lay of the land, politically. So I take back that nasty crack about Nova Southeastern.
     Poertner: he thanks Harris. Gives Harris T-shirts (one from each college).

     Next: Student Success Summit Overview, with Jane Horling and Roopa Mathur.
     Mathur: had a great summit. Shared best practices.
     What is student support? 10 things you can do.
     Success factors: directed, focused, nurtured, engaged, connected, valued. [I'm sorry, but this sounds like bullshit.] Write "great job" on student essays, etc. Learn student names. Etc. (Well, those ideas seem sensible.)
     Horling: sharing best practices. Idea exchanges. We don't do this enough! It worked well: putting people in the same physical space, exchanging ideas. Networking, collaboration. Please consider coming to this thang, presenting at next summit.

     Poertner: next, Innovations in Student Success


IVC:

     Roquemore, Beck, and Wilson (the latter two: ESL instrutors).
     Wilson: who are in our classes? Our population is diverse. Race, age, English background, Educational goals. Many Asian students. Persian students constitute second largest group. Our ESL population is older than the general population. Increasingly, we have "international" students, drawn by our reputation (transfer rate) and "the beach." Natch.
     Shows a picture of many different cats. Diversity. "All this diversity is like herding cats," said someone, viewing the situation. So how do we make this work? We focus on the largest group: those who seek to transfer, etc.
     Beck: two major changes. New course sequence (pathway to Writing 1). Before, students had to go backwards (moving to Wr 301) to go forward. New sequence. Can get to Wr. 1 straight from ESL. Discusses the notion of "Academic English," a language in itself. We focus on Academic English.
     Wilson: second change: ESL program acceleration. Students immersed in English environment. Language is a skill, not a subject. One can accelerate by getting a girl or boyfriend (who speaks English), join a club, etc. Immersion. But wear protection. (OK, I added the last part.)
     Beck: some ESL students really are not exposed to English much in their lives, beyond the classroom. Will have to progress step by step through the classes. But there are students who have a job or have a girl/boyfriend who speaks English. They move along faster. Can skip steps.
     The most realistic scenario: Step by step, but also skipping steps. Traditional sequence, or accelerated progression. Can switch from one to the other.
     Wilson: we want to work with our English colleagues--see if our ESL students are prepared for Writing 1, etc. Focus on data. Investing in faculty. Etc.

It was a bright, bright, sunshiny day
SC:

     Six or seven people come up, sheesh. Is it a convention?
     Burnett: K-12 partnership. Student success initiative demands this. A call to action. Burnett puts up quotations, organizes his presentation around them. Ridiculous.
     Hey, SC has been all about these parnterships, going back to 2008. Blah.
     A dean comes up and yammers (reads). Pretty boring. I'm starting to fall into a coma.
     O'Connor: speaks, doesn't read. Good. Blah, blah, blah. I'm back on the coma trail and O put me there. The guy actually uses "WAC" for writing across curriculum. He thinks in buzzwords and horseshit. Good grief.
     Blah, he says.
     "Common core," WAC, "contextualized teaching," etc. OK, I'm dying.
     --OK, that's it for me, I can take no more. After all this, there will be the traditional "pinning the tail on the donkey" (service pins)--an activity a more ridiculous than which cannot be imagined.
     I'm outa here. (It's not yet 10:30.)

The "real" groundbreaking came last (Guerrilla faculty)
A half hour later:
Groundbreaking for the new A400 Building
(future home of the School of Humanities, among others)

A400 groundbreaking: piled higher and deeper
     While I sat with some colleagues waiting for the show to begin, we commented on the hard hats (white), the golden shovels (freshly sprayed!), and other accoutrements of Dog und Pony.
     An old friend and colleague, Miss B, came out of hibernation (sabbatical) and attended the ceremony just to see the great day arrive. She told us that, earlier, she had spoken with John Edwards, Director of Facilities, and she reminded Charm Boy that, when she first arrived at IVC in 1991, she and others had been promised a "Humanities Building," to be completed by 1997.
     "So it's gonna be eighteen years late," said someone.
     Silence.
     The ceremony finally started, and it was sorta brief. Dean Karima Feldhus got the biggest applause by far. I'm sure that embarrassed her, but we don't care. We do that to her all the time.
     Some of us (not me; certainly not Karima) hatched a plan: we'd wait for the ceremony to finish, then we'd run up there and grab those shovels 'n' hard hats and do our own goddam groundbreaking. I was to take the pics.
     "OK," I said. But all I had was this laptop. Low Rez, baby.
     As it turns out, when the ceremony (including the State Chancellor and two or three trustees) was over and our Humanistic (and Languagistic) guerrillas commenced stalking and circling the long pile of dirt, the ever-observant Brandye D'Lena (district building maven) noticed this insurgency. She immediately took over the incursion and arranged for that photo and then some more--with the professional photographer on hand.
     Sheesh. It's tough tryin' to be a guerrilla these days.

Glenn said he'd keep it short, but, for a while there, we had our doubts

5 comments:

  1. Hi Roy! It's your officemate. I am in the balcony.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Roy, how come you didn't cover the Prez's opening Session yesterday???

    ReplyDelete
  3. Stay for the groundbreaking of A-400, Roy!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I love that I can read this while watching from the balcony! Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Congratulations on the new building. It's about time.

    ReplyDelete

Trolls and flamers will be cursed by our team of black magicians