Saturday, November 15, 2008

Hangin' with the nieces and nephew on a Saturday afternoon

Adam is 3 and a half, almost.

Natalie is barely 1.

Natalie's twin, Cathryn.

Sarah is nearly six.

But guess what (Tom Fuentes ♥ Mike Carona, and other factoids)

WRITTEN OFF? Thursday’s big earthquake drill seemed to go off well at Saddleback College.

The event was, um, no great shakes at IVC, however, where classes were briefly interrupted by an intercom announcement of the grand event followed by—nothing, except over at the Student Services Bldg. (An administrator later told me that the event only targeted SSB; but then, why the intercom announcement campus-wide?)

Many were bewildered.

“Wow. Now, I guess, we’re prepared for the Big One,” I told my class. I launched into a brief lecture on the importance of having an emergency stash (water, food, first aid) in car and home. Then it was back to free will and determinism.

The OC Reg reports (Saddleback College continues with earthquake preparedness) that Saddleback actually continued its preparedness exercises on Friday.
…Saddleback College emergency leaders gathered Friday at a campus emergency operations center to simulate an earthquake scenario involving significant damage to the campus.

In the scenario, the college served as an evacuation shelter for 1,000 citizens displaced by the hypothetical earthquake. The simulation included establishing plans and procedures in serving as an evacuation site, assessing the casualties and damage at Saddleback College, identifying the administration and logistics associated with executing an evacuation shelter and mass care plan, and establishing communication protocol with the Orange County Emergency Operations Center and media outlets….
Meanwhile, over at IVC, people were joking that, obviously, Chancellor Mathur has written off our little college to the north.

Maybe he read up about liquifaction. Dunno.

OODLES OF TAXPAYER MONEY. One of the more irksome elements of Mr. Tom Fuentes’ recent campaign for reelection (to the SOCCCD board) was his boast that our district is a friend to the taxpayer, for, unlike other districts, it has not pursued bonds.

That boast was, of course, a classic example of the fallacy of suppressed evidence, for, in fact, our district spends oodles of taxpayer money. Shitloads even. It has been able to do so without resorting to bonds because it employs an unusual funding approach that draws from local property tax funds rather than state funds. (It’s called “basic aid.”)

During good times in which home prices remain high, the district is showered with cash. So it’s been swimming in dough—taxpayer dough—for years.

But guess what.

As the LA Times reports this morning (Orange County faces budget squeeze), “Orange County officials are trying to slash tens of millions of dollars in spending, cutbacks that could lead to layoffs and jeopardize public services….”

That’s because tax revenues are expected to drop bigtime. But we haven’t seen the worst of it yet:
The squeeze on local government is expected to tighten further next year when the full impact of property tax adjustments hits. As property values have slumped, homeowners have asked for their homes to be reassessed—a process that will cut the government's property tax revenue.

Despite its above-average per capita income, Orange County has been hard hit by the economic downturn. Median home prices in Orange County plunged 28% in July, unemployment increased to 5.7% and sales tax revenue designated for law enforcement is down 3% from 2007, Mauk said in a memorandum calling for the cutbacks.

"We have to do it because the revenues are going to be down not only this year but more dramatically next year," said county Supervisor Bill Campbell….

R. Scott Moxley over in the OC Weekly (Is OC GOP Shill Jon Fleischman Goofy, a Moron and a Shakedown Artist too?) provides a transcript of a conversation between former Sheriff (and IVC "Hometown Hero") Mike Carona and his pal Don Haidl:

Don Haidl: Is somebody paying that goofy bastard [Jon Fleischman]?

Mike Carona: Big bucks. Big bucks. You and I had a difference of opinion on him. I just think he was a moron on his best day, but . . . Well, apparently . . . (Laughs)

They're willing to pay morons a lot of money because I was probably paying him when he left $90,000 a year. He made four times what I was paying him in a year, he made it in six months. And, uh, it's all through that silly ass Flash Report. He was doing consulting for business and stuff like that, too, you know? He's doing a George Jaramillo . . . He's doing a shakedown.

More power to him, I guess, you know?

—An August 13, 2007 FBI-recorded exchange between then-Sheriff Mike Carona and his onetime Assistant Sheriff Don Haidl about Carona's taxpayer-paid flack whose job at the Orange County Sheriff's Department was to spin/attack reporters investigating Carona's questionable activities. Fleischman, who is a heavyweight in California Republican Party circles and is a protege of Michael J. Schroeder, left the OCSD before the FBI and IRS indicted Carona on corruption charges. [—From Moxley's piece in the OC Weekly.]


An article in yesterday’s New York Times ( Mormons Tipped Scale in Ban on Gay Marriage) tells the story of the role of Mormons in the recent successful effort (in California) to ban same-sex marriage:
...Shortly after receiving the invitation from the San Francisco Archdiocese, the Mormon leadership in Salt Lake City issued a four-paragraph decree to be read to congregations, saying “the formation of families is central to the Creator’s plan,” and urging members to become involved with the cause....

The Times reports this morning (Protests to be a key test for Proposition 8 opponents) that “A series of protests against the passage of Proposition 8 scheduled to take place today in Los Angeles and across the country will be a key test for a loosely formed Internet-based movement that has emerged since California voters banned gay marriage last week.”

Some of us have high hopes.

♥ Prop. 8 protests could become national movement (San Francisco Chronicle, today)


OC Weekly columnist and bestselling author Gustavo Arellano was a guest last week at one of Rebel Girl’s writing classes here at IVC. The event was a success.

Evidently, Arellano was also a guest at UCI. According to UCI’s The New University (Ask the Mexican), Arrellano visited UCI on the 5th to discuss immigration, among other topics:
“[My new book {Orange County: A Personal History}] is trying to give a richer, more honest understanding of the real Orange County, which often gets ignored in favor of its myths,” Arellano said.

He spoke, for example, about the history of racism in Orange County. “Orange County is the Mexican-hating capital of the country,” Arellano joked.

Keeping with his theme of publicizing historically significant, but unknown events, the Anaheim native also discussed the community-mobilizing effect school segregation had on returning Mexican -American World War II veterans.

“Here were these Mexican Americans who bled for their country, and they came home to a place that said their kids had to go to worse-off schools,” Arellano said. After a suit and countersuit, the 1946 Mendez v Westminster case was finally resolved at the state level by Thurgood Marshall, who later worked on Brown v. Board of Education.”

In his book, these major city events that barely made a blip on Orange County’s historical radar are paralleled by events in Arellano’s family, making otherwise distant issues relevant.

“As a reporter, this is the best place to work because you have all these crazy stories of insane people,” Arellano said. “Orange County has become the Ellis Island of the 21st century, and I want to be here and take as big a part as I can.”

Arrellano [sic] will be teaching a course on the history and evolution of Orange County for the School of Social Sciences this coming winter quarter.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

All in a Day's Work: Sucker Punch

sucker punch : to punch (a person) suddenly without warning and often without apparent provocation

REBEL GIRL has had a good semester thus far, inspired by new texts and new students. She feels challenged and so do her students. It makes for a lively classroom.

At this point in the semester, students are making the necessary progress, some more than others. There are always those who excelled from the beginning and those who have failed to do so. Then there are those who are surprised by their own ability to progress – there's something special about that bunch. In the beginning, Rebel Girl worried they would drop even though she saw their potential, even though they may have failed the first paper. Stay, she counseled, I know you can do it if you manage your time and focus. They stayed –and now, well, many of them are doing more than passing; some are on their ways to earning B's. They discuss writing and critical thinking with an awareness that they admit they lacked 10 weeks ago. When asked, they say, somewhat shyly that they can see their own progress, notice the difference.


About this time, Rebel Girl queries them about their future classes. Who's taking Writing 2 next semester, she asks. Hands rise. Excellent. She advises them on Writing 180 opportunities, the reading classes and reminds them not to overload themselves.

So yesterday, in consultation with one of those students who is making her own surprised way to a B, Rebel Girl asks, "What are your plans for the Spring?"

"Oh, I'm taking writing," the student says, "but at another college."


"Well, I heard it's easier."

Rebel Girl goes into her standard patter on this subject: "You don't need easy. You don't want easy. You want to be prepared for the university where things are not easy and besides, you're doing WELL. Look at this paper." They stare at the 5 page rhetorical analysis of a poem by Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Hass.

The student is now embarrassed.

"Is this what your friends told you?" Rebel Girl asks.

"Yes," the student says, "but my counselor told me to do it too." She says the word "counslor" with a certain defensive pride.

"Your counselor here? At this college?" Rebel Girl's voice has gone up an octave at this point.

The student nods. She seems uncomfortable so Rebel Girl lets it go. Besides, she knows when she has lost. This student is a fairly reliable witness. She works on the campus. She will, next semester, take all her classes here expect writing. Writing she will take at another college. This on the advice of her academic counselor here, at this college.

Sigh. Big sigh.

Rebel Girl might dismiss this if this was the first time she heard this story. But it isn't.

There's ways to read this story.

One way is that the counselor wants to "help" the student achieve her academic goals and thinks an easy A is the way to do it. That version, of course, insults the smart student, the student that Reb has worked hard to teach the semester. Perhaps the counselor thinks the student isn't as capable as Reb thinks she is.

Maybe the counselor thinks Reb and her colleagues have standards in their writing courses that are higher than necessary, hence the suggestion to move on to another institution where the standards are, uh, different. Reb has certainly heard that one before.

Maybe the counselor wanted to ease up crowded classrooms on campus here on campus. After all, we certainly have seen a rise in enrollment so maybe this is part of some kind of enrollment management strategy.

Maybe the student's narrative isn't as reliable as Reb thinks it is and no counselor ever suggested anything of the sort because he or she would recognize how it undermines our educational mission and so poorly serves our students.


What do you think?

FERPA and Mathur

This morning’s Inside Higher Ed (Vigilante Justice on Plagiarism) reports that an instructor in Texas has been fired for publicly humiliating students who plagiarized in his course:
On [Loye Young’s] syllabus at Texas A&M International University this fall, he wrote: “No form of dishonesty is acceptable. I will promptly and publicly fail and humiliate anyone caught lying, cheating, or stealing. That includes academic dishonesty, copyright violations, software piracy, or any other form of dishonesty.”

…. Young, who owns a computer business in Laredo and doesn’t depend on a teaching job for his livelihood, thinks humiliation is part of the justice system. He noted in an interview Wednesday that “there’s a reason that trials are in public.”

When he caught six students in his management information systems course cheating, he wrote about it on his course blog …, naming the students and telling the world that he had caught them and that they would receive an F for the course and be reported to university officials.

When university administrators realized that Young had followed through on his threat to fail and publicly humiliate the students, they put the failing grades on hold — the cases are now being referred to an honors council for consideration and the F’s may or may not stand. But action against Young was quick: He was fired. The university says he violated the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act, a federal law known widely as the Buckley Amendment or FERPA, which generally bars the release of educational records about students without their permission….
Gosh, this reminds me of the career of our own Raghu P. Mathur, who, as you know, started his illustrious acadamic career as a chemistry instructor at Irvine Valley College. When the "chair" model was instituted in the mid-80s, Mathur immediately seized that role and would not let go of it.

The following is from Dissent 16 (1/11/99):
Dissent has been provided a photocopy of a memo sent by then-president (of IVC) Dan Larios to then-chair [of the School of Physical Sciences an Technologies] Raghu P. Mathur in May of 1996. ... As the following memo makes clear, President Larios ... could not abide Mathur’s conduct:

TO: Raghu Mathur....
DATE : May 14, 1996

SUBJECT: School Chair Election

By a vote of the faculty of the School of Physical Sciences and Technologies you have been recommended to serve another two year term as School Chair. As you know, the recommendation of your school has been forwarded to me for approval. It is the purpose of this memo to explain to you that I have some serious reservations about your leadership as School Chair.

As an administrator of Irvine Valley College, you have been repeatedly directed by me to resolve administrative matters within the administrative structure of the college. During the past year you have circumvented processes established by the Instructional Council and Board Policy, you have appealed directly to the Chancellor and board members when clearly directed not to and have generally operated in a spirit of bad faith which has undermined both the IVC governance model and has discredited your nominal support of it. I have spoken to you repeatedly about these issues and stated to you on March 29, 1996, that I have lost trust and confidence in your ability to lead your school.

I am giving you the 1996-97 academic year to regain my trust and confidence in your leadership ability. During this year you will be evaluated quarterly by the Office of Instruction. If at anytime you do not conduct yourself within established and agreed upon laws, policies, and procedures, I will exercise my right to remove you as School Chair.

It is in the best interest of the faculty, staff, and students of Irvine Valley College that you work within established administrative and governance structures of IVC and the Saddleback Community College District. Implicit in your accepting the nomination and election as School Chair is an expectation that in so doing, you are a willing participant in the governance model endorsed by IVC. In addition, I would expect you to realize that all recommendations for School Chair are forwarded to me for final approval. If, in good faith and in practice, you do not support the governance model you will be removed from your position as School Chair.

I am hopeful that in the future you will become a positive, contributing member of IVC’s administrative team. If I can be of any help in this process do not hesitate to call upon me.


I should provide some context. By early 1996, Larios had become fed up with Mathur for reasons cited in the memo among others. He was determined, therefore, to decline Mathur’s re-appointment as chair of his school. True to form, Raghu got wind of this and lobbied the board. As a result, Larios was told that he was not to pull the plug on Raghu. So Larios did what he thought he could get away with—re-appointing Mathur for one year on a probationary basis.

There was a “final straw” that precipitated Larios’ [desire] not to re-appoint Mathur as chair.

Dissent has been shown a copy of a letter, dated March 18, 1996, from the district’s attorney, Spencer Covert, to Dan Larios, President of IVC. The letter indicates that, in the opinion of Covert’s firm, Raghu Mathur acted improperly when he distributed a document to the Board of Trustees and others—a document that contained a student’s transcripts. Covert explains that the matter falls under the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act of 1974 (FERPA) and that Mathur’s action thus violated district policy (5619), which refers to FERPA.

Recently, I have learned that, in violating FERPA as he did, Mathur placed the district in serious jeopardy of litigation. Further, it appears that, back in 1996, in an attempt to protect the district, administrators never told the student in question that her rights had been violated by Mathur.

But why had Raghu distributed a student’s transcripts in the first place? What could lead him to do something so unseemly and unprofessional?

A detailed account of this sordid tale would be tedious, and so I will sketch only its chief elements. [The upshot: Mathur attempted to discredit VPI Terry Burgess regarding the latter’s decision to sign off—in appropriately, according Mathur—on a student’s petition to be allowed to forgo a lab requirement. Mathur could find no one at IVC willing to pursue the matter, and so he turned to the board. In the end, it became necessary for President Larios to send out a college-wide memo explaining that Burgess had in no sense acted improperly in signing the student’s petition.]

As indicated above, Mathur, hopeful of discrediting Burgess, also pursued the card signing matter with the Board of Trustees, once again circumventing established procedures. He sent the Board a document including a cover letter, the above-mentioned resolution, and a copy of the student’s transcripts, thereby violating the Family Educational Rights & Privacy Act and district policies.

At about this time, Larios, by then utterly fed up with Mathur, composed a letter of reprimand, reprinted below:

TO: Raghu Mathur....
FROM: Daniel L. Larios, President
DATE: March 26, 1996
SUBJECT: Letter of Reprimand

On February 14 and March 8,1996 you disseminated School of Physical Sciences and Technologies memoranda to the Chancellor, District Board of Trustees, Saddleback Community College District Faculty Association and the Irvine Valley College Academic Senate. In your role as an Irvine Valley College administrator you have not conducted yourself within established and agreed upon laws, policies, and procedures.

You have clearly violated the instructional Council’s Statement of Practice (Attachment #1) issued September 11, 1995. In addition, you and the full-time faculty members of the School of Physical Sciences and Technologies, as signatories of the aforementioned memorandum of March 8, have violated Saddleback Community College District Board Policy 5615 (Attachment #2) and the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 (“FERPA”) by distributing confidential student records. FERPA regulates access to educational records of students and protects their rights in preventing the disclosure of personally identifiable information with certain limited exceptions, in the absence of student and/or parental written consent.

The Irvine Valley College Catalog, page 229, under the heading “Student Privacy Rights,” explicitly references FERPA and extends such protection to students of the District.

I am hereby directing you that this misbehavior cease and that you work within the established administrative and governance structures of Irvine Valley College and the Saddleback Community College District. As an administrator of Irvine Valley College, you have been repeatedly directed by me to resolve administrative matters within the administrative structure of the college. To continue to pursue college matters with the district Chancellor and Board of Trustees is contrary to the explicit direction I have given you and constitutes insubordination.

If you continue to persist in not observing established laws and Board of Trustees’ and college policies and procedures, I will be obligated to take formal disciplinary action against you.

A copy of this letter will be placed in your personnel file.


This letter was never sent.

On March 29, Larios met with Mathur. The meeting was witnessed by an impartial administrator, who took notes. According to those notes, the following exchange occurred:

Larios: “I believe that a reprimand is in order because of the communication that you sent out to the board. It contained, without permission, a transcript of a student. You violated her rights under the Family Practice act and our own Board Rule 5619. But because of the meeting this morning I am not going to give you the letter I have prepared.”

Mathur: “It was a good meeting and I suggest that you tell Terry, and we can put it all behind us now because of the meeting.”

Larios: “You need to let go of focusing on Terry, Raghu. It is not healthy for you. Your school has to become a part of this college. You are going to have to change. Can I report to the Board on April 22nd that all of this is behind us?”

Mathur: “Yes, you can, but you have to tell Terry and Pam [Deegan] the same thing. I am willing to cooperate.”

Larios: “Your school depends on you for leadership and you have let them down. Will you put this behind you now? You have good people in your school and they depend on your leadership ability, which I have lost confidence in.”

As reported in Dissent XVI, Mathur learned of Larios’ intention to reject Mathur’s re-appointment as school chair, and so he scrambled to lobby the Board, telling them who knows what. (As you know, Mathur has a history of lying—even to Instructional Council, which formally censured him.) As a consequence, Larios was directed not to stand in the way of Mathur’s reappointment. In the end (May 14), Larios sent Mathur a somewhat toned down version of the above memo—the document reproduced in Dissent XVI.

In subsequent months, Mathur worked hard to rehabilitate his reputation, though his tactics remained unchanged. For instance, he contrived to have the faculty of his school send to Larios a memo “commending” him for all of his fine work.

The man’s shameless.

Later, of course, Mathur sued Burgess and me for violating his privacy by reporting the above. We countersued and won. Mathur was ordered to pay our attorney fees ($34,000).

Mathur then sued the district for not protecting him. The district settled and paid Mathur $40,000 (as I recall). Not long after, Mathur was appointed Chancellor.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008


The little people among us.

These three will grow up together.

How lucky.


This morning, our pal Marla Jo Fisher reports on a Special public hearing TONIGHT on SOCCCD techology park. Says Marla, "The meeting is scheduled in the chancellor’s conference room instead of its regular venue, which is the first time I’ve ever seen a public hearing scheduled for a conference room. Maybe they don’t expect anyone to show up."

Hmmmm. This board sure is dedicated to open government and transparency. Sure. I wonder if denizens of the colleges even know where the conference room is? Doubt it.

From this morning's Inside Higher Ed:
Gates Foundation to Spend Big on Community Colleges:
The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation announced plans Tuesday to focus its time — and hundreds of millions of new dollars — on college completion, particularly at community colleges.

In announcing the plans, at a meeting with education leaders held in Seattle, foundation leaders spoke with passion not only about the importance of higher education, but about the poor graduation and retention rates at many institutions.

“For the last 40 years, the U.S. has been encouraging enrollment and access — with federal aid like Pell Grants and guaranteed student loans. That’s important, and it has helped. More young people enrolled in college this year than ever before,” [Melinda Gates] said. “But the payoff doesn’t come with enrolling in college; the payoff comes when a student gets a postsecondary degree that helps them get a job with a family wage – and that’s not happening nearly enough. The college completion rate in America has been flat since the 1970s. We were once first in the world in postsecondary completion rates, we now rank tenth. That’s a danger for the nation’s economy, and it’s a tragedy for our citizens.”

As a result, she said that the foundation’s work in education would focus on “not just college enrollment, but college completion.” The foundation plans two major efforts in the years ahead, she noted. One will focus on helping more disadvantaged students finish high school so that college is a possibility for them. The other will focus on college completion. The emphasis will be on community colleges, she said….
Protests and reaction re Prop 8 continue (KTLA):

Cat fights are the new rage on campus

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Random factoids and observations

1. I attended the start of IVC’s Veterans Day ceremony yesterday, which was held more or less between the new Performing Arts Center and the even newer Beefsteak Bld. Everybody walked from all points of the compass to the little stand against the big blue wall.

--Everybody, that is, except His Highness Raghu P. Mathur, who was transported all the way from his car to the stand in a special electric cart. I was not alone in staring the fellow down with severe disapprobation.

2. As you know, we netted precisely bupkis in our efforts to unseat trustees Tom Fuentes and Dave Lang in last week’s board election. Carolyn Inmon came mighty close to unseating Lang, and Bob Bliss did surprisingly well, too—but, in the end, we got zip.

Well, at least we didn’t lose Bill Jay.

OK, know this. Experts going way back (remember consultant Eileen Padberg back in 2000?) have told the faculty union: concentrate on one seat. Don’t try to take on several trustee seats at once!

Do we ever listen? Nope. We get excited; we think God is on our side, or something (He is, but He’s no help). “We can do this!” we shout. (Er, "Maybe we can!")

Forgetaboutit. Next time, we concentrate on one solitary trustee, take ‘im out. That’s it. All else is folly.

3. Most of us, it seems, are very happy about the way the Presidential race turned out. It’s the dawning of a new era!

It’s not a bad time for our district either. Likely, we’ll survive our Accreditation predicament, thanks largely to some very dedicated people among faculty and staff. I suppose that trustee Don Wagner deserves credit here too. As a close observer of this process, however, I know how crucial has been the leadership of a small handful of faculty.

As usual, most district denizens have no idea how much is owed to so few. (We'll find out about accreditation in January.)

And, thanks to last spring’s absurd hiring extravaganza, we’ve got lots of new faculty. It’s a real opportunity, I say. Let’s get ‘em involved in governance right away! That old advice about protecting new faculty is just BULLSHIT. If this new crew doesn't get dialed in, we're toast, cuz we can't count on.... Well, you know. Thank God for newbies.

The board is left unchanged, but I think we’re OK. My sense of things is that Mr. Fuentes is not the dominant figure that he once was, in part because of an uninterrupted string of misadventures and screw-ups presented mostly by his boy Raghu P. Mathur, the Worst Chancellor in the World. At this point, Chancellor Goo is an embarrassment and liability to everyone (save GOP Corruption Boy). Administrators hate him; trustees distrust or disdain him; even his faculty supporters seem to have abandoned him. (Has anyone seen Walter?)

Nobody who travels in education circles in this county--or state--is unaware of Mathur’s reputation as a creep.

I say we just ignore him. He can keep the office. He can even show up for commencement. Hell, he can keep the Mercedes. We’ll just work around him!

4. I’ve been resting up from some health problems (dang blood sugar issues!), and so I took it really easy today. I did manage the installation of four tiny knobs on my dresser. Friends recently returned from Italy, and one of my pals brought me five goofy little colored knobs, hand-painted by tiny Italians.

My friends reported that Italy is great, but, they add, when you go there, don’t expect things to actually work like they do in the USA. Toilets, door handles, phones--they're pretty rickety. If these colored knobs are any indication, Italians make cheesy hardware too.

Yeah, but these knobs sure do look great! Check 'em out.

Tiger Ann says “hey.”

Tiger Ann is a brat (Veterans Day)

As you know, Tiger Ann is unfailingly opinionated, albeit reticent. Here, we find her head poking out from the darkness.

"This is Tiger Ann at her maximally patriotic," says Annie.

"Here we find Tiger in a pensive mood," says Roy. "Pensive and hopeful." 

Drop, cover, and hold!

Saddleback College to participate in Great Southern California Shakeout:
Saddleback College will join thousands of other colleges, schools and organizations Thursday in the Great Southern California Shakeout, the nation's largest state-sponsored emergency exercise.

This full-scale emergency exercise focuses on the response to a simulated scenario– a catastrophic 7.8 magnitude earthquake along the southern portion of the San Andreas Fault.

At 9:45 a.m., a campus-wide simulated emergency InformaCast System broadcast will be made via each classroom and/or office telephone alerting students of the drill.

In response to the announcement, everyone on campus will practice the drop, cover and hold on protocol. After the "all clear" announcement is made, everyone will evacuate their buildings according to the campus evacuation plan....
From this morning’s Inside Higher Ed:
[MORMONS AGAIN:] The University of Phoenix has agreed to pay $1,875,000 to 52 enrollment counselors who say that they were discriminated against because they are not Mormons. The settlement follows a suit by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which found valid the employees’ claims that those who were members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints were provided with better student leads and were promoted over better qualified non-Mormons. In a statement, the University of Phoenix said it was committed to equal opportunity and that its agreement to settle the suit did not involve any admission of wrongdoing.

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's not over

Photos of today's Irvine Valley College Veterans Day Ceremony

Schwarzenegger tells backers of gay marriage: Don't give up:
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Sunday expressed hope that the California Supreme Court would overturn Proposition 8, the ballot initiative that outlawed same-sex marriage. He also predicted that the 18,000 gay and lesbian couples who have already wed would not see their marriages nullified by the initiative.

"It's unfortunate, obviously, but it's not the end," Schwarzenegger said in an interview Sunday on CNN. "I think that we will again maybe undo that, if the court is willing to do that, and then move forward from there and again lead in that area."…
Voters drive stake in Ruiz... we think:
…Voters in the Coast Community College District finally sent board member Armando Ruiz to his, (what, third?) retirement. Let's hope it's the last, although nothing he does would surprise me.

Jerry Patterson, who won reelection to the Area 2 seat, released statement that best summed up why this is important. "The defeat of Armando Ruiz will mark the end of an era of, 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours,' using this public office for private gain, and secrecy over transparency."….

Soccer, feminists, youth

Local college provides jerseys for Africans: Saddleback College donates soccer tops for town in West Africa:
Nine girls' soccer teams in Africa are now equipped with Saddleback College jerseys, thanks to a donation made to Sports Gift, a non-profit organization in Dana Point that collects and distributes second-hand sports equipment to underprivileged children around the world to promote participation in athletics.

The Saddleback College jerseys were delivered to Togo, West Africa, where funds are not available for girls' athletics. The donation helps give the girls their first opportunity to play organized sports.

"Participation in youth team sports helps build important life skills and I am proud that with the help of Sports Gift, Saddleback College's donation will truly benefit young athletes in West Africa," said Saddleback College President, Dr. Tod A. Burnett. "This donation is also a wonderful way of teaching our students about the importance of community service at the local and global levels."

"It is gratifying to know that Saddleback College's donation will help young girls play organized soccer for the first time, and that we are helping others beyond the boundaries of south Orange County. It's been a pleasure working with Sports Gift" said Dean of the Division of Physical Education/Kinesiology and Athletics, Tony Lipold.

"Sports Gift's mission is to provide sports to underprivileged children around the world, and we are most appreciative of Saddleback College's contribution, which will bring such a positive experience to our young female soccer players in West Africa," added Nancy Best, Collection Leader of Sports Gift.
From Inside Higher Ed:
[UH-OH, FEMINISTS:] Lawrence H. Summers — has emerged in recent days. Summers, whose Harvard University presidency will forever be associated with his comments on women and science, was among those experts who met with President-elect Barack Obama Friday to discuss the economy, and Summers has widely been reported to be among those under consideration to be tapped as treasury secretary. That possibility has upset some feminist leaders. The Washington Post quoted the co-founder of New Agenda (founded by supporters of Sen. Hillary Clinton) as saying Summers “has a clear and unequivocal record of sexism and misogyny.” The Huffington Post quoted Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, as being uncertain about whether the women and science quotes from the past are relevant today. She said: “I’m torn on the subject. Part of me thinks his opinions on women’s capacities for math and science don’t have relevancy to financial markets.... But I do wonder whether if his comments about women’s lack of aptitude for math and science had instead been a comment or an opinion about African Americans having less capacity for math and science, would he be on anybody’s short-list. That’s a fair question to ask….
[YOUTH VOTE MATERIALIZES:] Between 52 and 53 percent of voters under 30 showed up Tuesday, an increase of four to five percentage points from 2004 and an increase of 11 percentage points over 2000, according to an updated estimate from Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. Young voters preferred President-Elect Obama by a more than 2 to 1 margin.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Protests continue, even in OC

Prop. 8 protests continue in O.C.:
About 300 people gathered in front of Saddleback Church protesting the recently-passed gay marriage ban this morning.

Holding signs reading "Shame on Rick Warren" and "Preach Love not Discrimination," the crowd chanted "Equal rights now."

Some said the protest was akin to the civil rights movement, bringing out both heterosexual and homosexual people. Others said that it wasn't too late to voice their opinion and make a change.

Since Prop. 8 passed last week, massive crowds have rallied against it in Los Angeles and San Francisco. In Orange County, hundreds protested without incident in Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach yesterday. Protests were planned in Lake Forest, Laguna Niguel and Rancho Santa Margarita today…..
Photographs from OC Register

Exulting in complexity, speaking in paragraphs

From Nicholas Kristof’s column in the New York Times:
Obama and the War on Brains:
...The second most remarkable thing about [Barack Obama’s] election is that American voters have just picked a president who is an open, out-of-the-closet, practicing intellectual.

Maybe, just maybe, the result will be a step away from the anti-intellectualism that has long been a strain in American life….

At least since Adlai Stevenson’s campaigns for the presidency in the 1950s, it’s been a disadvantage in American politics to seem too learned. Thoughtfulness is portrayed as wimpishness, and careful deliberation is for sissies. The social critic William Burroughs once bluntly declared that “intellectuals are deviants in the U.S.”

An intellectual is a person interested in ideas and comfortable with complexity. Intellectuals read the classics, even when no one is looking, because they appreciate the lessons of Sophocles and Shakespeare that the world abounds in uncertainties and contradictions, and … that leaders self-destruct when they become too rigid and too intoxicated with the fumes of moral clarity.

Mr. Obama, unlike most politicians near a microphone, exults in complexity. He doesn’t condescend or oversimplify nearly as much as politicians often do, and he speaks in paragraphs rather than sound bites.…

[A]s Mr. Obama goes to Washington, I’m hopeful that his fertile mind will set a new tone for our country. Maybe someday soon our leaders no longer will have to shuffle in shame when they’re caught with brains in their heads.
From Frank Rich’s column in the New York Times:
It Still Felt Good the Morning After:
…The post-Bush-Rove Republican Party is in the minority because it has driven away women, the young, suburbanites, black Americans, Latino-Americans, Asian-Americans, educated Americans, gay Americans and, increasingly, working-class Americans. Who’s left? The only states where the G.O.P. increased its percentage of the presidential vote relative to the Democrats were West Virginia, Tennessee, Louisiana and Arkansas. Even the North Carolina county where Palin expressed her delight at being in the “real America” went for Obama by more than 18 percentage points.

The actual real America is everywhere. It is the America that has been in shell shock since the aftermath of 9/11, when our government wielded a brutal attack by terrorists as a club to ratchet up our fears, betray our deepest constitutional values and turn Americans against one another in the name of “patriotism.” What we started to remember the morning after Election Day was what we had forgotten over the past eight years, as our abusive relationship with the Bush administration and its press enablers dragged on: That’s not who we are.

So even as we celebrated our first black president, we looked around and rediscovered the nation that had elected him. “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for,” Obama said in February, and indeed millions of such Americans were here all along, waiting for a leader. This was the week that they reclaimed their country.
In the news...
All 23 CSU campuses may turn away students:
CSU Chancellor Charles Reed blamed the proposed enrollment restrictions on Sacramento's underfunding of the university's budget, which was cut in September and now faces a midyear cut as the state's financial woes worsen.

The university's governing Board of Trustees is scheduled to discuss Reed's proposal Wednesday during a meeting at CSU headquarters in Long Beach. The trustees also will be asked to consider increasing tuition for business school graduate students.

While individual campuses have closed enrollment in the past, such a move has never been imposed across the entire system, which is the largest four-year university operation in the country. The proposal does not estimate how many students could be denied admission, but it could be thousands….
Prop. 8 protestors march in O.C. without incident:
Hundreds attend the rallies in Laguna Beach and Huntington Beach.
The statewide protest against a freshly approved ban on same-sex marriage spread south on Saturday, as hundreds opposed to Proposition 8 walked streets in two coastal Orange County cities.

In Laguna Beach, more than 1,100 people met in front of City Hall and then marched to the beach, where they crowded along Coast Highway. The demonstrators waved signs and chanted slogans from the shoulder of the highway, and police briefly blocked the southbound lane closest to them.

The demonstrators in Laguna Beach were met with thumbs-up signs, cheers and honking horns. The city voted more than two to one against Proposition 8, and its mayor, Jane Egly, helped kick off Saturday's march by telling the crowd, “We must continue the long struggle.”….

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