Saturday, September 29, 2012

Mere "foul language"? Orange County Is Bein' Ridiculous Again

"No cussing"
     I just read an article in the Reg that reports that a student at a local high school is accusing his coach of outrageous behavior.
     That doesn’t surprise me. What surprises me is that the reporter—and some of the people he interviewed—describe the coach’s alleged behavior as using “vulgar language.”
     That's quite an understatement. As someone (maybe me) noted in a comment,
   If the coach were to use the usual expletives in, say, describing his visit to a proctologist, then, I suppose, that would be a case of using vulgar language. But this coach displayed homophobia and racism in particularly raw forms—even toward individual students. Further, his treatment of the student in question is verbally violent and disturbingly aggressive. It is bullying behavior.
     Well, judge for yourself (and don't forget to check out the Reg's notorious reader comments!):

Teen's complaint shines light on coach's vulgarity, sports culture
Fullerton baseball player Grant Sims, 16, comes forward to discuss a taboo topic – foul language in coaching.
     I recommend a visit to Merriam-Webster Online. These dictionary people offer cool games (love the vocab quiz) and a series of entertainingly opinionated videos concerning word histories and word usage.
     Sexy, man. Really.
Check out the debate over Why American Students Can’t Write in The Atlantic

Friday, September 28, 2012

Mom, c 1953
CSU system may slash enrollment by 20,000 if tax measure fails (OC Reg)

     The California State University system will cut student enrollment by 20,000 if Proposition 30 fails, officials said Thursday.
     The 23-campus system is telling perspective students they can begin applying Monday for fall 2013, but campuses will hold applications until after voters decide on the proposed tax initiative.
     The cut would amount to about a 5 percent drop in enrollment for the 400,000-student system. Cal State Fullerton, with enrollment of about 37,600, could lose 1,500 to 2,000 students, according to estimates….

Rebel Girl's Poetry Corner: "Beneath us the teachers, and around us the stillness"

Gratitude to Old Teachers
—Robert Bly

When we stride or stroll across the frozen lake,
We place our feet where they have never been.
We walk upon the unwalked. But we are uneasy.
Who is down there but our old teachers?

Water that once could take no human weight
We were students then—holds up our feet,
And goes on ahead of us for a mile.
Beneath us the teachers, and around us the stillness.

(photo: Professor Richard Lee, in the Cal Sate Long Beach parking lot.  Professor Lee was one of Rebel Girl's patient and persistent professors in the early 1980s.  Sometimes she thinks of him when she is in the classroom, how he smiled at her and made her feel welcome at the university, a place that did not always welcome her.)


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

We're #1

     Golly, the SOCCCD gets a dishonorable mention in Gustavo Arellano’s 50 Reasons Why Orange County is The Worst Effing Place in America (OC Weekly). We come up in reason #18:

Anaheim, 1924
 18. And on that note, we're genocide-denying central, from the Institute for Historical Review (the largest Holocaust-denying publishing house in the world) to a community college district who employed a Holocaust denier to Kevin MacDonald, the Long Beach St. professor whose writings are the intellectual framework for modern-day anti-Semitism to the anti-Armenian genocide ravings of Ergun Kirlikovali and his bands of outraged Ottomans.
UC to pay $1 million to pepper-sprayed Occupy protesters (OC Reg)

…UC officials believe the cost of going to trial would be more expensive than the cost of settling the lawsuit, [UC spokesman Steve] Montiel said….

U. of California Will Pay Nearly $1-Million to Settle Pepper-Spray Lawsuit (CHE)

SEE Be a pepper....

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Campuses Remember Mikel Anthony Williams and Carlos Salas, Victims of Violent Deaths (Navel Gazing; Matt Coker)

      Each of the South Orange County Community College District's two main campuses is dealing with the recent tragic death of a beloved student.
     Irvine Valley College adult learner Mikel Anthony Williams, 55, became the 10th murder victim in Anaheim on Aug. 30. Newly enrolled Saddleback College student Carlos Salas was skateboarding to his Laguna Niguel home early Sept. 7 when he was struck by a hit-and-run driver and dragged 25 feet. The 20-year-old later died at the hospital....

Saddleback student dragged and left to die (Lariat)

Monday, September 24, 2012

The September meeting of the SOCCCD Board of Trustees: uh-oh, unfunded retiree health benefit liabilities!

     [Update: Be sure to read Tere's Board Meeting Highlights.]
     I just walked in—in the middle of the invocation. So I missed the "read out" of actions during closed session.
     [For what it's worth, Tere reports that the board approved "A Police Officers Association Master Agreement between the District and POA for the July 1, 2012 to June 30, 2015." My guess is that that is what was read out.]

     No public comments. Natch.
     Nancy and Co. went straight to trustee reports.

     Bill Jay: yammered a bit about "enrollments." The big issue, evidently. Huh?
     Mike Meldau: no report
     Marcia Milchiker: said something, I dunno. Went to 9-11 ceremony.
     TJ Prendergast: has learned that there are problems with parking at the colleges. Really?
     Nancy Padberg: went to 9-11 ceremony, etc. IVC and SC had dueling ceremonies.
     Jim Wright: went to 9-11 commemoration. Attended guest lecture. Toured the "Library and Learning Resources Center." All the computers were being used. "Wonderful." Attended memorial service for instructor. Looking forward to Homecoming game.
     Dave Lang: attended IVC's 11th annual 9-11 shebang. Attended a UCI event: STEM initiative. U.S. comparison with other nations not good in Science and Math. Went on tour of Library and LRC. Unrest abroad in Libya and elsewhere. We should think about Free Speech vs. blah blah blah. Hate speech, blah blah blah. Dunno what that was about. Is there hate speech afoot? How about betrayal, Bean Boy?
     Student trustee Park: spoke about Club Day, etc.

     Chancellor's Report (Gary Poertner): Thanks to faculty for presentations re student success, etc. Extremely important work being done to promote student success.

     Board requests for reports: Lang has a request—evidently on agenda. Passes unanimously.

     Discussion item: 4.2, "College Completion Agenda"

     Bob Cosgrove of Saddleback College: mentions 4 presenters. Making connections with middle schools and high schools to make students better prepared for college writing. And also the link to universities.
     Kathy Schmeidler: introduces Brenda Borron and Dean Karima Feldhus and a Jonathan Alexander (of UCI).

     SADDLEBACK: Two Saddleback gals (Dawn Lewis and Renee Bangerter) come up and talk up this and that. I think that one of 'em said that 70-90% of students come to colleges unprepared re math and writing. Good grief. Sounds about right though. These gals are pretty chirpy.
     Projected on the screen: EPLC Projects. Created tutorials, etc. Created a "rubric" and went out to "norm" faculty. Got high school faculty up to speed. Then our funding was cut. Turned to an outside vendor. Averted disaster. Focused on Common Core Standards, etc. They're "thrilled" with progress, reception. We wanted to reach out to High School teachers locally. But then this thing went national. Something about "turnitin" online. They showed us the "rubrics." I gather that the work that this local group did went national somehow. A big deal.
     "It's been very humbling" to learn what students need to successfully transfer to college courses, etc.--said the one gal who teaches High School I guess.

     IRVINE VALLEY: Next: the IVC crew. Dean Feldhus speaks. Joining her, Jonathan Alexander (UCI) and Brenda Borron (IVC): We're very impressed with what Saddleback is doing. Won't repeat that info. Brenda and Jonathan presented here previously; won't repeat all that. Will focus on feedback re our collaborative session(s). Thanks to Brenda's work, we've been way ahead of the curve. Refers to the CA Task Force's recommendation concerning outreach, etc. with local schools. The comments we've heard from those involved in these discussions (collaboration between the segments) have been very positive. No finger-pointing. They read testimonials.
     Gosh, it's almost a TV commercial.
     Dean Feldhus reads comments from high school participants, etc. These seemed less impressive, albeit appreciative. "Much more solid than I anticipated," said someone.
     More testimonials, comments, of participants. High school instructors drew attention to the "huge numbers" of students they must teach. Too little time, etc. Sounds pretty grim at K-12.
     It does appear that this collaborative session they are describing was precisely the sort of thing the Task Force had in mind.
     Alexander noted that this is lots of "talk." How do we assess all this activity? They'll make an effort to see if anything is changing in the high school classrooms. We'll get back to you within a year.
     It is important for students and faculty to understand what sort of writing will be expected of students when they get to college.
     Alexander: working with "your faculty" (IVC, Saddleback) is best experience I've ever had (he's been involved in these efforts for many years). Sounds good.

     NEXT DISCUSSION ITEM: 4.1 District-wide Strategic Plan

     Didn't catch this woman's name [Denice Inciong], but she is familiar. She's presenting the "annual report" re district-wide strategic plan. Six major goals, 14 objectives, etc. 76 "action-steps." Good Lord.
     GOAL 1: District-wide culture, mutual respect, etc. Identified 5 top barriers to cooperation. Will focus on addressing these "barriers."
     GOAL 2: student preparedness, yada yada. Innovations....
     GOAL 3: maintaining techno leadership, etc. Loves the word "utilized." Uh-oh.
     GOAL 4: integrated district-wide planning....
     GOAL 5: using data. More "utilizing." Sheesh.
     GOAL 6: assess ed needs of the communities.... This concerns ATEP.

     This woman seemed to do a good job, despite her embrace of that awful word "utilize."

     Next discussion item: 4.3: Accreditation report.

     Saddleback College: Burnett: we've got a draft report. Very proud of our college, our district. Very confident that this will turn out well. Thanks Cosgrove/Bushe. Introduces our "main writer," Claire C-S.

     Irvine Valley College: Roquemore echoes Burnett. Kathy Schmeidler here to answer any questions. In each case, board seemed satisfied. No questions. Moved on.

     4.4: Report on Actuarial Study of Retiree Health Benefit Liabilities. Deb Fitzsimmons comes up for this one.  Discusses an "actuarial study."
     Bad News. The gist of this report is that, owing to the longevity and early retirement trends of faculty (combined with fast increase in cost of medical benefits), we've got to cough up another $15 million. A big surprise. (I had lots of notes about this, but my computer took a rare dump. I'm scrambling here to fill in what I lost.)
      [Tere reports as follows:
   Compared to the results of a 2010 valuation, there has been a large increase in the Actuarial Accrued Liability (AAL) and Normal Cost (NC) in the amount of $15,820,942 for retiree health benefits.
   Dr. Debra L. Fitzsimons, Vice Chancellor of Business Services, provided a presentation of the actuarial report, and reviewed implications and funding options for the district. Some factors that affected these variations over the last two years include a huge increase in number of retirees (52 faculty recently retired), number of employees hired, higher costs for retiree medical claims, and PERS and STRS tables which were recently updated. In general, she said, people are retiring earlier and living longer, which also contributes to increased costs. Vice Chancellor Fitzsimons said an experience study will be conducted to verify data used in the actuarial study before the shortfall amount is finalized.]
     They move to the related 6.1: option and recommendations for funding the unfunded retiree health benefit liability.
     The trustees agreed to take a very conservative approach. They want to use Basic Aid monies (something about unrealized property taxes) to borrow $10 million to pay now, blah blah blah. Evidentally, we're going to engage in some examination of data to verify the state's factoids (or some such thing). Then we'll see where we really are unpaid liability-wise.
     But Lang wants to go the conservative route and pay this stuff off, whatever the amount.
     They essentially go with option 5, which involves paying off this liability asap, I think. Very conservative approach. Well, yeah, the board has long been careful that way.
     Fitzsimmons does a great job laying out the problem. (That I seem to want to say this is paradoxical, since I don't think I understood a word she said. You know me and fiscal stuff. My eyes glaze over.)
     Tere's Board Meeting Highlights explains that the board approved "Fully funding the retiree health liability shortfall before the end of this fiscal year, June 30, 2013, in the amount of $15,820,942 in basic aid funding pending further studies and verification of final amount."

     They pull 5.5 from the consent calendar: this is the change in name of the "James B. Utt Library" to the "Library and Learning Resources Center."
     Padberg recommends amending proposed name to include "in memory of Dr. Richard McCullough." Everyone likes this but I think they go forward with accepting the current recommendation (5.5) and will make name change later. Not sure. In any case, Lang and others seemed agreeable to Padberg's "McCullough" idea. Cosgrove chimes in with info that there's a move afoot to name another building after McCullough. Everybody seems on board with honoring McCullough.

     Nobody argued for resurrection of Utt, a fellow whose memory is best left in a dust bin.

     Then they charge through the rest of the agenda. (I've got to catch up here.)

     Gal (Kim McCord) comes up to give presentation on Proposition 30.
     .25% sales tax increase for 4 years.
     Increase personal income tax rates for 7 years (for high income)
     If 30 passes, 1% growth allowed for.
     Obviously, Proposition 30 needs to pass.

     Prendergast: carps about effect of all this belt-tightening on his high school. Huge. It's not good, but it could be worse. "It is what it is," says TJSomeone solemnly repeat this alleged insight. Yep, it is what it is. Heads shake.

     They keep zipping through the agenda.

     Down to reports of groups.

     Saddleback College (Cosgrove): some high schools around here have 45 students per English class. Instructors spread thin. It means an additional burden on community colleges.
     Faculty Association (Jacobs): wearing "yes on 30" button. Praises tonight's presentation on 30. Prop 30 does seem most viable. As basic aid district, we're somewhat insulated. But these cuts will find their way to our doorstep. As it is, some of our students will find it difficult getting into CSU, will pay higher tuition, etc.
     IVC (Schmeidler): echoes Jacobs' sentiments. Will have more students banging on our doors. Highlights cooperation between two colleges. Groups working well together. Very collegial. Very healthy. Reflected in Accred follow-up reports. Padberg: "very good to hear."
     IVC President (Roquemore): focused on cooperation between the two colleges. "We're working together like we never have before."
     Saddleback President (Burnett): ditto about collaboration. SC extremely grieved, passing of Darrel Deiter(?). Sad also about loss of one of our students. Adam Rizoni served in Afganistan. Lots of events. Accred team visiting Nov. 9.
     Bramuci: no report
     Bugay: joke, didn't catch it
     Fitzsimmons: points out--something. Sounded good, whatever it was. 50% calculation mentioned. 51.71% for our district. (By law, at least 50% of expenditure must be for instruction. Mathur let us go in the red in this regard. Remember? There was a huge scramble, huge effort to hire 40 or so faculty all at once.)
     CSEA, classified senate: ...

     Padberg: closes with comments about two who we lost recently. Mentions also an IVC student he passed away. I remember that kid; RG used to have 'em in our office.
     Padberg closes this meeting in memory of their lives.

More CYA down at the County?

Drakodaidis Placed on Admin Leave (Voice of OC)

     Alisa Drakodaidis, the Orange County deputy CEO who in July sent a politically explosive letter that alleged corruption among county supervisors, has been placed on administrative leave....

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