Friday, December 15, 2006

IVC's Adopt-a-Family is a hit—PLUS: no port-o-potties!

As you know, at Monday’s board meeting, we were treated to the marvel of trustee DON WAGNER praising something, namely, the “Adopt-a-Family” Christmas Program that is held annually at Irvine Valley College. He seemed to think that Trustee BILL JAY always shows up at these things playing Santa.

Well, that might be true, but, if so, nobody’s noticed, cuz Bill Hewitt has been claimin’ to be that particular Santa for years.

I ran into some people this morning, who asked that I cover the Adopta event for the blog. I said I would. Mostly, though, I was at school to give a final exam, my last of the semester.

During my morning wanderings, I also ran into classified employees who were hopping mad about yesterday’s announcement of a water shut-off for Tuesday and Wednesday of next week. According to the announcement,
From December 19 through December 20…, the water to the entire Campus will be shut-off to facilitate re-routing pipes to [construction] projects. Portable restrooms will be strategically placed throughout the campus…We apologize for any inconvenience.
“How come you didn’t write about that in the blog this morning?” asked one woman. “This is one of Wayne’s deals.”

Wayne? Uh-oh. (Someone had just told me a Wayne Ward story. As you know, IVC's Chief of Police of six years, Owen Kreza, is gone, forever, for reasons yet-to-be-explained [don't hold your breath]. Nevertheless, he's been spotted on campus this week. For instance, on Thursday, he was at the Facilities and Maintenance workers' "team building" BBQ. According to my source, F&M's Wayne Ward bought him lunch.)

I asked the woman to elaborate about the problem with this water shut-off.

“Well, going in a port-o-potty is no fun. Plus where are we supposed to wash our hands? And are they gonna supervise each kid’s visit to the toilet over in Child-Care? They’d better, or those kids are gonna fall right down that hole!”

I imagined that. Splat. She continued:

“Yeah, I can see why they waited until faculty and students weren’t around before doing this, but what about us?"

I said I’d look into it. In truth, I didn't realize that it was an issue until that moment.

Well, I went off to give my final exam and then, at about 11:30, I wandered over to the cafeteria, the site of the Christmas Program. There must’ve been well over one hundred people in there. And, judging by the joyous squallery, they were happy. The food looked great, the staff were all smiles. Even the mice danced a festive dance upon the ceiling tiles, causing a delightful asbestos snow in which the children danced. (Well, I made that last part up, though there've been lots of mice/rat incidents lately.)

Adopta's Xmas Program was clearly a big success. It had already attracted VIPs. Somebody told me that the Chancellor had dropped by for his photo op. I spotted Cal Nelson, the popular and jolly interim VPI, plus three or four other administrators. Plus Glenn (Roquemore, the college president). I think I spotted his young son.

And Santa. He was making the rounds, talking to little kids, uttering his “ho ho ho’s.”

It was Bill Hewitt all right. I spotted Pam, his wife. She was there, she said, to see Bill “play Santa for the last time.” As you know, our Bill has gone big time, for, soon, he will serve a hitch as the president of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges (FACCC, pronounced Fack ck ck ck), which is located in faraway Sacramento, land of the Big Skeeter and the Guv Nator.


I was feeling all warm and fuzzy, and so I started hanging with Santa as though I were his elf. When some of the little kids froze at the sight of the jolly red fat man, as they sometimes do, I jumped in there like a rodeo clown, saving Santa from the bull. That is, I made goofy faces at the kids. I think they liked ‘em.

Well, OK, this rodeo clown stuff lasted maybe fifteen seconds. But I kept following Santa, which is a little awkward, cuz Bill's got this St. Nick thing down, and he moves fast. Finally, as we neared the chow line, I asked him if I could sit in his lap. I figured he’d just laugh. But no. “Ho ho ho,” he said.

Eventually, we made our way to the other end of the room, where sat Santa’s colorful throne. Well, to make a long story short, I sat on Santa’s lap, and he asked me what I wanted, and I told ‘im, but I can’t possibly repeat that here, because I gave him my real wish. Santa laughed a lusty “Ho ho ho!”

An efficient gal who works in Bill’s office took snaps. (See.) I wondered what she was thinking.

Eventually, I spotted Rebel Girl, who was on campus doing “department chair” duties but who was persuaded to take a break to visit the Christmas program. She explained the Adopt-a-Family concept to me as though I were the world's biggest knucklehead. Evidently, it provides money for a Christmas dinner plus toys to eligible families. Sounds great. It turns out the Reb’s a long-time supporter of Adopt-a-Family.

Well, I had to run, but, on my way out, a woman accosted me and informed me that the “water shut-off” problem was solved. Evidently, the classified union met with Ward and HR (I think) and the upshot was that the water shut-off issue was no more.

“That's great,” I said. Me 'n' the Reb headed out, but not before Cal yelled at us, "Have a SUPER Holiday!"

Three hours later, I was back in my office, and, on my email, I came across a new “water shut-off” announcement. It was a “revised” announcement, and it came from Wayne Ward. It said
From December 21 through December 22, 2006, the domestic water to the entire Campus will be shut-off to facilitate re-routing pipes to [construction] projects. Portable restrooms will be strategically placed throughout the campus…. We apologize for any inconvenience.
That’s Thursday and Friday, right? I think the college is closed on those days.

OK, call me Mr. Persnickity—well, don't—but, strictly speaking, Wayne’s email fails to say that the water will NOT be shut off on Tuesday and Wednesday. I mean, strictly speaking, all he’s saying is that, now, there are these two other days that the water will be shut off. Right?

Well, whatever. To all of you, even Wayne—EVEN RAGHU—I offer a lusty "Ho ho ho!" And to all of you, a good-night.

Yes, that's Bill under all that fur.

In praise of Donna

On Wednesday, there was an event in honor of Donna Martin, the Executive Assistant to the Office of the Board of Trustees. Everybody likes Donna. Plus, she’s terrific at her job.

I’ve been going to board meetings off-and-on for more than ten years, and she’s always been there, and she’s always left the impression of being a classy lady. Over the years, I’ve often had occasion to call her (for audio or video tapes, etc.), and she’s always been perfectly pleasant and professional.

Plus she’s kind of a babe.

Well, a friend of mine who was there told me that lots of people showed up to speak in praise of Donna. The friend said that administrators, trustees, classified employees, and faculty got up before the group to say a few words. Marcia was funny. Other people were too.

“Everyone spoke,” said my friend. “Everyone. Except for one person.”

“Guess who?” said the friend.

Back in August, we reported on that month’s meeting of the Board of Trustees. (See Goo review.) The issue that generated the most heat that night concerned Chancellor Raghu Mathur’s layoff or transfer of one of Donna’s coworkers, supposedly as a cost-cutting measure. (As you know, simultaneously, Mathur was angling bigtime for a raise plus $40K in unused vacation time.)

Evidently, in taking that action, Mathur employed his usual modus operandi, i.e., unilateralism, ruthlessness, insensitivity, etc. But, at that board meeting, his account of his action made it seem far otherwise.

Donna, who seldom speaks during board meetings, felt compelled to comment on the action concerning the coworker. “We were never consulted…The rug was pulled out from under us,” she said.

What, one wonders, could inspire the likes of Donna Martin to say something like that!?

In the course of the subsequent exchange, Mathur referred to a phone call between he and Donna. His account of the exchange portrayed a sensitive boss who took pains to consult Donna, though he “didn’t have to,” about the wisdom of the action he was then contemplating. During the call, said the Gooster, Donna repeatedly stated her “support” of his proposed action.

That inspired the reticent Ms. Martin immediately to demur: “No, [what I did was] I thanked you for calling me….”

Naturally, the Imperial Goo cut her off, commanding: “Please don’t interrupt me!”

It went downhill from there. The episode was most unpleasant.

Well, Donna’s send-off was a big success. We do have some great employees here in the old SOCCCD, don’t we?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Anywhere he wants to

A MONTH OR TWO AGO, someone told me that IVC head of maintenance WAYNE WARD had decided to install "waterless" urinals in the B100 men's restroom. My friend said that there was some kind of screw-up, and so the taller of the two urinals was out of commission and covered in plastic most hideous.

A couple of weeks ago, a colleague noted, in disgust, that the B100 restroom smells of urine. "Yeah, I know," I said. "It's those 'waterless' jobs. The big one is busted; the little one stinks."

Today, I noticed that both urinals are kaput. Both are covered in plastic. Looks like sh*t. Smells like urine.

AS I WAS DRIVING around campus this morning, another friend called me over and told me to check out the furthermost maintenance yard. "That Wayne thinks he can f*ckin' park anywhere he wants to, I guess," said the friend.

Well, I did find Wayne's Camaro. It was parked where it shouldn't oughta be. Way to go, Wayne.

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Chestnuts Roasting

The most dreadful semester wound down in fine style in the A-200 faculty lounge on Wednesday when two instructors, inspired by what a little goodwill might do (Yes, Virginia, yes!) created a party from nearly nothing: a few trays of cookies baked by a generous faculty mom in Whittier; a cardboard box o'coffee bought at the local neighborhood mega-monster corporate coffee-opoly; a tablecloth improvised from the OC Weekly holiday edition; chairs stolen from various empty classrooms (the faculty lounge sports, as you know, only four chairs); and jazzy holiday tunes wafting from a nearby office.

Friends, it doesn't take much to make folks happy. Yes, George Bailey, it's a wonderful life.

Chris and Jan from the Health Center (a Zen-like zone of peace and tranquility in the Student Services Center) took the prize for traveling the most distance to attend the spontaneous cookie soiree. A-100 was well-represented by Kathy, Gee and Al Tello. The adjunct pool sent representatives from Fine Arts, English and Spanish. Beth from the Reading Lab showed up, and the usual suspects from A-200 were in attendance, ambassadors from across the disciplines and programs. The dapper and charming Bob, Dave F's personal hero, also put in appearance. We reminisced. We told jokes. We roasted chestnuts. We were visited by the ghosts of administrators past. We asked advice of each other. We gave advice. The spirit of holiday camaraderie --- all, amazingly, without boozy nog --- nestled itself into our collective bosom, and an atmosphere of cuddly and jingly and warm descended on the straw-strewn manger, er, lounge.

And then the college president came by to wish everyone well and to testify, somewhat defensively, that he had indeed signed the requisition form for lounge furniture that was, of course, nowhere in evidence. "Maybe in the new year," he added, hopefully. "When you get back."

I hope so. If not, Rebel Girl has a suggestion. This is what you do when you need furniture moved: you call your friends with pick-up trucks and promise them beer and pizza upon delivery.

But enough grousing. 'Tis the season to be jolly. And we were yesterday, weary but jolly. Did I mention that the soiree began at 2:00 and wound down after 6:00? Can we get FLEX credit? Can we do the same thing next month, maybe a Welcome, Furniture Party?


Good news: we're not Stockton

In this morning’s Stockton Record: Stockton ranks dead last in literacy:
You might be the only person reading this story. Or anything else, for that matter.

For the second year in a row, Stockton ranks last in a study of literacy in the nation's largest 70 cities.

Seattle ranks first overall. El Paso, Texas, finished second to last in the study, published this week by Central Connecticut State University.

…"It breaks my heart," said Michelle Lonero, a teacher at Rio Calaveras Elementary School….

…"It is disconcerting," Mayor Ed Chavez said. "There's no way to sugar-coat it."

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Chunk's photo backlog


This was the scene up in the snazzy district offices as the trustees' meeting with the Accreds ended:
That's trustee Fuentes moving toward Debra Blue. The SC Accred team is to the right (with Lang).

Above: Chancellor Mathur lingered as Chancellor's Cabinet prepared to meet with the Accreds. Mathur did not attend these meetings. I asked him if I was welcome, and he said "Yes."

Above: just before the Chancellor's Cabinet Accred meeting. I left the meeting early, sensing that my presence might discourage frank discussion.

Above: a few hours earlier, the IVC Accred team met with the IVC Academic Senate.


It's a different world, up on the third floor. Looks like corporate offices. Taco Bell maybe.

Outside the Chancellor's office:


With apologies to Tracy Daly:

At Monday's board meeting, Nancy Padberg was replaced by Don Wagner. Nancy's the Majority's least favorite trustee.

Above: all too often, the board votes look like this.

Vice Chancellor Andreea Serban

What Happens When You Go Away

Don't even ask what the past week has been like. Suffice to say, Rebel Girl has not finished grading her various paper sets, has not finished staffing all the classes for the next semester, has not finished writing letters of recommendation, has not even begun to do faculty evaluations let alone holiday shopping and sister calling and instead has been composing a 2000 word essay titled "Pedagogy of the Deceased." It's too long and dreadful to post here but if you want a copy just let her know and she'll be happy to share the pain.

Instead, a poem, from the wonderful Muriel Sparks:

The Three Kings

Where do we go from here?
We left our country,
Bore gifts,
Followed a star.
We were questioned.
We answered.
We reached our objective.
We enjoyed the trip.
Then we came back by a different way.
And now the people are demonstrating in the streets.
They say they don't need the Kings any more.
They did very well in our absence.
Everything was all right without us.
They are out on the streets with placards:
Wise Men? What's wise about them?
There are plenty of Wise Men,
And who needs them? --and so on.

Perhaps they will be better off without us,
But where do we go from here?


Owen & Dennis?

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● We keep hearing that the fates of IVC Police Chief Owen Kreza and his Deputy, Dennis Duncan, have been decided. (Both were mysteriously placed on administrative leave over two months ago. Their computers were seized.) As near as I can tell, nothing was announced about them after the closed session of the Board of Trustees Monday night. See Tracy’s Board meeting highlights.

On the other hand, I’ve been told that the closed session item regarding “Resignation.Retirement/Conclusion of Employment” [sic] referred to the resolution of the Owen/Dennis situation.

According to my sources, Owen Kreza will retire, and Dennis will resign. We'll try to get confirmation.

● The LA Times had a great story yesterday (and another today) about my Congressman, Gary Miller. He’s another corrupt local Republican, bigtime. See Ex-aids allege abuse of power. We’ll have more about Miller at a later date. See also Gary Miller can always get what he wants in today’s Times.

* In this morning’s Times: Passion fills O.C. court in trial over student rights:
Two high schoolers are caught kissing on campus.

Ordinarily, such an incident would garner little attention. But for Charlene Nguon, a smattering of kisses and hugs stolen after school and in between classes led to detention, suspensions, a transfer and a lawsuit.

The reason? That's what a federal judge in Santa Ana will soon decide.

Nguon says it's because she was kissing a girl. Ben Wolf, who was then principal of Garden Grove's Santiago High School, says that's not the case at all….
The article ends:
On the plaintiff's side, one focus of [the girl’s attorney’s] closing argument was school policy. He said that when Wolf told Nguon's mother her daughter had been kissing a girl, he was revealing her sexual orientation. Would it not be sufficient to say she was caught making out? He said school officials testified that they would never use a student's race or ethnicity as an identifier.

[The defendant’s attorney] warned that siding with the plaintiff on that point would force "a lot of school districts throughout this state to change the way they communicate."

To which the judge replied, "What's wrong with that?"
● If you want to read about how our state is unprepared for a disaster, check out State lags in health readiness surve in this morning’s San Francisco Chronicle. It ain’t pretty. Compared to other states, we’re near the bottom. Joining us there: Iowa, Maryland and New Jersey.

Monday, December 11, 2006

"Merry holidays," he said, charmingly

Just got back from the South Orange County Community College District meeting of the BOARD OF TRUSTEES—or, as one participant of tonight’s meeting would have it, the meeting of the Board and not of anybody else--i.e., not of riffraff like college Presidents and Academic Senate Presidents, who need to remain silent and respectful down in the pit. That was John Williams, looking staunch and red as per usual. I think Chancellor Mathur said something like, “It is a public meeting but it is not a meeting of the public.” Raghu's a sucker for clever sayings.

Tonight's report will have to be quick, cuz The Cat is peevish again, and so I’ve got to feed her really soon. I’ll have more tomorrow. More of a report, I mean. Same amount of cat.

During the readout of actions after the super-secret “closed session,” we learned that stuff happened to lots of people, but no names were mentioned. No doubt I’ll learn more tomorrow. Somebody important got canned, I think.

A retired judge—a Judge "Frazee," I think, although he looked pretty normal—showed up to swear in Padberg, Milchiker, and Wagner, who were reelected by default. They looked pretty proud. They swore to support and defend the Constitution and to shoot on sight all enemies, foreign and domestic. I crouched low in my seat.

There was only one public comment, and that came from IVC Senate Prez Wendy G, who dispensed some Warm and Fuzzies, declaring that IVC’s Holiday Party was “wonderful,” what with all the dancing and joking and having a good time. It was like a real college plus togetherness. We sang Kumbaya. Wendy came close to blaming me for the whole thing. (She blamed Julie too.)

In truth, it was a great event just like the Wendster said.

The board went straight into its yearly “Organizational Meeting,” which brought out some petty trustee snipage. One faction of the board seemed to want to roll over the same three officers for the next year, but the more ruthless faction favored doing likewise--except they wanted to replace Nancy Padberg, who has been VP, with Don Wagner. Well, that’s just what happened. I don’t have to tell you how these people voted. It was all utterly predictable.

After Mathur threw a plaque at Lang, the board discussed the Chancellor’s recommendations for changes in the board meeting format—supposedly for the sake of “efficiency.” I think one of the recommendations was that the college Presidents should just turn in written reports instead of squawking. Another was moving Personnel Actions to the consent calendar (which pretty much guarantees rubber-stampitude). Another was replacing the “invocation” with an “inspirational moment.” It was a pretty superficial change, I think.

Naturally, Don Wagner hated that last idea, arguing, evidently, that invocations of the Lord are traditional and common, so back off. Padberg didn’t like the business about moving Personnel Actions to the consent calendar--I think she called it "irresponsible"--nor did she warm to the notion that the Presidents should be relegated to lowly riffraffery. Wagner agreed with Nancy P about the consent calendar, but he didn’t have a problem with the riffraffery. Mathur got defensive and prickly (some might say "unprofessional") about Nancy’s criticisms of his recommendations, and that caused her to roll her eyes, which is always great. Eye-rollery is within the bounds of professionalism, I think. I oughta write a book about trustee etiquette.

In the end, they went with Mathur’s suggestions, except the part about changing "invocation" to “inspirational moment.” These people do have their priorities. It was a tiny victory for Red-Staters in the Culture War. Somebody brought out a Confederate flag and planted it in my foot.

During reports, the trustees seemed determined to say “Happy Holidays” and the like. Bill Jay spoke of “Merry Holidays,” I think, but at least he apologized for scrambling his words. Hey, that’s his charm! He can be funny when he's self-effacing. Make a note, Don.

At one point, Wagner sang the praises of IVC’s Adopt-a-Family program, which, he said, features jolly “Bill Jay” as Santa Claus. Bill looked more bewildered than usual. Turns out it’s Bill Hewitt, not Bill Jay, behind the whiskers and funny red suit. Ho ho ho. Somehow, Wagner’s error inspired endless mirth, but I didn’t get it. I think I’m goin’ deaf or something. Somebody get the phone.

Wagner got all worked up over something about the Dean of PE and Athletics (I think that was it). He seemed to say that the process whereby this person was hired was irregular and just plain stinky. Plus he seemed to want to eliminate the position. I wasn’t paying much attention, so don’t ask me. (Luckily, I got most of this discussion on tape.) In the end, nobody seemed to agree with Wagner, judging by the vote. It was a rare moment of Wagnerian solitude. Heard some Valkyries.

The discussion of the “fix” of the disastrous “$50 Zillion” liability insurance decision for Study Abroad programs was interesting. Chancellor Mathur made a point of indicating that the disastrous action was originally recommended by Bill Jay over there. I detected snickering in the audience. Padberg seemed to draw attention to the presentation given by VC Serban last month regarding how much insurance is really appropriate (namely, 5-10 million). Maybe Nancy was saying, “don’t give Mathur any credit for fixing this thing.” (Not sure.) Jay expressed something like regret about the 50 Zillion SNAFU, which really messed things up, although why didn't Ragu step in or mention what was happening? Good for Bill. Mathur accepted no responsibility whatsoever.

Fuentes engaged in some spectacular historical revisionism about how this whole STUDY ABROAD FUBARITUDE got started. More about that tomorrow.

The trustees referred to all the dying that’s been going on lately at the colleges. Four kids have died in the last month or so. I’m told that one student died the other day when he fell from the Saddleback College Library.

The meeting was adjourned in honor of those poor kids.

More tomorrow. Gotta feed that cat.

Despite the EAC

▲ For a preview of tonight's SOCCCD Board Meeting, go to

Board Meeting. See also
Chunk's open letter to the Chancellor &
IVC's holiday party a success &
Official IVC Holiday Party Photos

▲▲ The editorial in this morning’s New York Times—The Road to Reliable Elections—concerns desperately needed electronic voting reform. As you know, Trustee Tom Fuentes is on the Elections Assistance Commission (EAC), the body that was supposed to fix what is broken (post-2000 election fiasco) but that has refused to do that. Gee, I wonder why?

Turns out that’s OK because individual states are gradually making the fixes themselves. Plus Dianne Feinstein and her pals are riding to the rescue:
…The Election Assistance Commission, whose role is merely advisory, long ago missed the chance to take the lead on electronic voting reform. The states that adopted paper requirements have done that. And it now looks as if Congress may finally resolve the matter for the whole nation.

Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, and Representative Rush Holt, Democrat of New Jersey, plan to introduce legislation to require voter-verified paper records. That legislation has a good chance of passing. If any members of Congress are uncertain why such a law is needed, the [new] NIST report makes the case convincingly.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Chunk's open letter to the Chancellor

Cook: I was against it, you know.
Moore: Against what?
Cook: The Second World War.
Moore: Well, I think everyone was against the Second World War.
Cook: Yes, but I wrote a letter!
Someone’s imperfect recollection of a famous Peter Cook/Dudley Moore sketch. Those guys had their moments!

AS YOU KNOW, some VIPs of the South Orange County Community College District are in the habit of making decisions on behalf (they proclaim) of the long-suffering "taxpayer."

Taxpayers do have it bad. For instance, it's hard for them to get reliable information about what goes on in the SOCCCD, what with unscrupulous politicians claiming that our faculty have "36 hour work weeks" or that they make on average 100 grand a year. I've met South County taxpayers who seem to think that SOCCCD faculty spend their days "teaching" the "gay and lesbian lifestyle." That's what they tell me, anyway.

Part of the problem is that the system makes it hard for citizens to monitor how decisions are made in the good ol' SOCCCD. As you know, in our district, the trustees "are the decider." Even when they're not supposed to be the decider, they're still the decider. OK. So how is the poor taxpayer to keep track of all this trustee decidery?

It ain't easy. Consider our board meeting agendas--composed, I assume, by Chancellor Mathur. The typical taxpayer must have trouble reading them. (They are readily available here, though the district makes no effort advertising that fact.)

I'm not saying that they're terrible. They're not. It's just that no effort is made to make them intelligible to the taxpayer, who likely has no idea what a "governance group" is or what "basic aid" is about. I can just see him or her asking himself, "Why is there a 'closed' session in the middle of this 'open' session?" "What on earth is 'reassigned time'?" "What are all these different 'senates' they keep referring to? Shouldn't there be just one?"

People who bother to get ahold of our agendas must get frustrated. After a while, I'll bet, they just give up trying to figure out what the next meeting is about.

Imagine if, instead, we made it easy for 'em!

So I've decided to write a letter:

Dear Chancellor MATHUR:

If you need help writing a taxpayer-friendly agenda, I am available to assit you. You know where I am.

Here's an example of my work. On the agenda for tomorrow's board meeting, regarding item 26, YOU wrote:
26. SADDLEBACK COLLEGE: ACADEMIC STIPENDS – SPRING 2007 - Approval of extra-contractual faculty assignments [sic] for Spring 2007.
Now, me, a guy who likes to look out for his fellow citizen, I would have written something like this:
26. WE'RE PAYING FOR SPECIAL WORK. Some Saddleback College faculty have agreed to do work next semester beyond their regular teaching duties—for instance, hiring and evaluating part-time instructors. This item informs the trustees about that [or it informs the trustees that these instructors will be paid for this work].
No doubt you can whip up a mean beaker of weird green chemicals. But let's face it, Raghu—you're no writer. Please note the obvious flaws of your own verbiage:

● The agenda says that item 26 is "information only"—that is, the trustees are not being asked to approve anything. And yet the above verbiage "informs" the board of "approval" of "assignments." That's confusing.

● Item 26's description indicates, in capital letters, that it concerns "stipends." And yet the verbiage that follows refers to "assignments." Aren't those two different things? Again, this is confusing, even to an insider! I think you're confused, dude, and when a writer is confused, his reader is even confuseder.

● Item 26 refers to "Academic" stipends. As opposed to what? Isn't everything at a college "academic"? —'Ceptin' for mowing the lawn, I guess.

—In general, taxpayers must find it hard to understand our agendas as they are now organized and written. It wouldn't take much to make them UTTERLY INTELLIGIBLE. Why not do that? I MEAN, DO WE CARE ABOUT THE TAXPAYER OR NOT?

Raghu, let me know if I can help. You won't even have to give me a stipend. I'll do it for free. Honest. But don't you be goin' to the board taking the credit, or insisting on being paid for MY WORK!

I know you, dude. I've got your number. Bigtime.
Yours truly,


8-14: do you regret all the lying?

✅ Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory on Kamala Harris’s Eligibility to Be Vice President NYT ✅ Orange County Sees Overall Coronavirus...

Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary