Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Gumby College

     Evidently, among the names suggested for Irvine Valley College back in the spring of 1985 were "Gumby College" and "El Torito College."
     Check it out:

Saddleback North: New Name and a New Valley (LA Times) - May 15, 1985
     After a short search that yielded suggestions such as Gumby College and El Torito College—Home of the Nachos, the Saddleback Community College District board has voted to rename Saddleback College's north campus Irvine Valley Community College.
. . .
     Two of the other names offered by students, teachers and administrators were Rancho Irvine College and Modjeska Community College. Modjeska had a nice ring, [spokeswoman Susan Clark] said, but it presented technical difficulties. "There was a lot of trouble with the spelling, and we couldn't fit it into a fight song."….
     Yeah, spelling trouble.
     At a college.

Maybe it's 'cause Villa Park
wants the French to be toast
Restaurant In Villa Park Still Sells "Freedom" Fries, But Doesn't Have a Problem with "French" Toast (Stick a Fork in it)

Monday, June 24, 2013

Contra SOCCCD prayer: it's all about who's appointed to those "commencement" committees!

     Here's some interesting background on the “Prayer” issue here at the South Orange County Community College District.
     As you know, Karla Westphal, a math instructor at Saddleback College, has for many years urged the board to back off of its practice of prayer, especially sectarian prayer, at district and college events. She has enjoyed the support of academic senates and other groups. Naturally, in defiance, the Wagner- and Fuentes-dominated board with then-Chancellor Mathur started laying on the religion mighty thick, which led to the “Westphal v. Wagner” litigation, of which I was a part.
     In the end, a settlement was reached according to which a “commencement committee” was supposed to decided independently—i.e., without the influence of trustees or college presidents—whether or not to have an invocation or prayer during commencement ceremonies.
     As you know, Saddleback College’s Tod Burnett immediately decided to defy the prima facie demands of the agreement (evidently on the basis of an alleged “loophole” in the "resolution" produced by the settlement), overriding the commencement committee's decision not to have an invocation. I suspect that the difficulty he has had in the last year finding another gig—his contract with our district is not liable to be renewed—has something to do with that peculiar action and news coverage concerning it. (Go ahead; Google "Tod Burnett.")
     I just wanted to remind everybody that the “prayer” issue actually has a long history in our district and that one needs to consider that issue against the backdrop of larger OC politics and trends.
     Consider, for example, the following:

1. WITHOUT A PRAYER (LA Times, Dec. 10, 1992)
     Trustee Harriett S. Walther has finally won her fight to cut the invocation at meetings of the Saddleback Community College District, a 25-year-old tradition. Walther has long worried about the potential illegality of mixing prayer with government meetings. . . . "We should err on the side of caution in dealing with the Constitution, which we have been sworn to uphold," she says. The vote was 4 to 3 on Monday—after that meeting's opening prayer.
     Harriett Walther (who, by the way, remains active) was an uncommonly independent trustee (1977-1996), though she was undoubtedly liberal on most issues. Her refusal to cater to the Faculty Association (faculty union)—at a time when that organization made unprincipled alliances with explicitly anti-faculty and conservative trustees purely for the sake of securing high salaries and benefits—made her unionists' public enemy #1.
     That was ridiculous. In truth, Harriett's values were likely closest, among trustees, to those of most faculty.
     Well, among her issues was her discomfort with “invocations” at BOT meetings. She prevailed.
     Alas, the heedless and irresponsible (and overtly political) right-wing board created by the faculty union (the FA supported Williams, Frogue, Lorch, Padberg, Wagner, Fuentes–until it was reformed in the early 2000s; even then, it continued to support the rat bastard Williams, a sore point among many of us in the Association) undid that bit of progress. Those people just did what they wanted, regardless of decency, best practices, tradition, or law. (Don't forget their repeated Brown Act violations.)

2. Prayer and being "out of the picture" at the South Orange County Community College District (Nov 4 06)

     The above 2006 DtB post referred to a Times article that reviewed the tenure of Joyce Greenspan, chief of the local (Long Beach/OC) ADL. Owing to my telephone call to her, Greenspan became involved in the flap over trustee Steve Frogue’s notorious “JFK Forum” back in 1997. (I won't go into all that.)
     Previously, she had come to the defense of an instructor (Richard Prystowsky) whose Holocaust course caught the lunatic attention of Frogue, an apparent Holocaust denier. (See also Froomkin.)
     In the Times article, Greenspan was asked about conditions in OC in 1981, when she took on the ADL job, and whether things had improved with regard to tolerance of minorities, etc.:
     In 1981 there was just a hint, a beginning of diversity in Orange County. But it was not a very diverse community, and looking at church-state issues, there wasn't a lot of tolerance for understanding that everybody was not looking at religion the same way. There were a great many issues having to do with local government, having to do with schools, having to do with any public area in which people were speaking as government representatives—teachers, principals, elected officials—and felt that they were speaking to people just like them….

     For instance, if you look at a number of city council meetings of those days, there would always be a prayer before a council meeting. Those meetings would begin with a very Christian prayer. It's a discomfort that people feel if you aren't Christian and a meeting is beginning with the invocation of a Christian prayer, it kind of leaves you out of the picture.

     Now, people are very careful. If they do a prayer, it's nonsectarian—not just nonsectarian Christian but nonsectarian.
True enough, I wrote at the time,
except at the South Orange County Community College District, where, routinely, Christian or Christianesque prayers are offered by the very theatrical Mr. Tom Fuentes. If you've ever heard one of his invocations, you know what I mean.

Her stalking off in a room of silence is sad, disturbing, and 
invigorating. You can't do much better than that!

     As I said, at one point, the board decided to turn up the heat and to up the religion factor. That provoked the lawsuit.
     As you know, invocations were given at our recent commencements. It is not clear to me whether the decisions to include these prayers was reached "independently" by the committees. It is important to notice, however, that at least in the case of IVC, the vast majority of committee members are directly answerable to the college President.
     So what do we do? Faculty (and classified) who believe in the First Amendment's anti-establishment clause need to consider getting on those committees and bringing our district in line with the more enlightened practices of institutions all around us.

     THE SETTLEMENT STATUS QUO: The board's all-important "resolution" regarding invocations is reproduced below (read especially the "therefore" half):

Click on graphic to ENLARGE
Click on graphic to ENLARGE
Click on graphic to ENLARGE
     For an overview of the prayer saga at SOCCCD, see socccd prayer

Sunday, June 23, 2013

"IVC then and now"

 "IVC then and now"

Don't know who this is. Saddleback College, North Campus, circa 1978 
- Source: Uploaded by user via Irvine Valley on Pinterest
     I came across a site, on something called Pinterest, entitled "IVC then and now." It presents some old IVC-related photos. Some of 'em are pretty terrific.
     Evidently, Pinterest is "an online pinboard." It seems to be something that businesses and other entities make use of to present themselves to a gullible world, I guess. Something like that.
     Under the title, the site asserts that "Irvine Valley College has been a proud member of the community for many years and we are looking forward to many more years to come!"
     Who's "we" I wonder? DO? Don't know.
     Nice pics, though. Here are some of them:
                                                                    Source: Uploaded by user via Irvine Valley on Pinterest

     The site seldom provides photo captions, so often we're left to guess what the photos are about. Dang.
     The above photo obviously memorializes the opening of a building. It is either from 1988 or 1989 and likely concerns the opening of either the Physical Sciences and Technology Building (B200) or the Computer Science Building (B300).
     That's then-Chancellor Richard Sneed at right. To his right is (then) Dean Pam Deegan (not so sure about that). To her right: former SOCCCD trustee Shirley Gellatly. To her right is Ron Kong, IVC President (April 1987 - June 1989). Behind him at left is Kong's predecessor (though Dale Larson served as interim), Ed Hart, who died in 1990. Behind him at right is, I believe, trustee Harriett Walther.

Circa 1979; clocktower under construction. Is that Ed Hart in the middle? He's the guy who really pushed for this campus at the district level. Unbelievably, owing to persistent poor maintenance, the Clock Tower rotted and was demolished a few years ago (2006). The Reb and I swiped the hands of the clock, left as refuse.

                                                                 Source: Uploaded by user via Irvine Valley on Pinterest

This seems to be the IVC PE/Athletics crew, circa 1998.

                                                                Source: Uploaded by user via Irvine Valley on Pinterest

I think that's Chancellor Richard Sneed at left; the speaker (commencement speaker?) is the estimable Rebecca Welch of the School of Humanities and Languages. I believe that's trustee Joan Hueter to her left. Early 90s?

                                                                       Source: Uploaded by user via Irvine Valley on Pinterest

IVC President (1981-1986) Ed Hart. Hart was Assistant Superintendent/Administrator and provost while at IVC prior to 1981. He worked hard to establish a northern campus for the SOCCCD, starting in the mid-70s.

                                                                     Source: Uploaded by user via Irvine Valley on Pinterest

Caption: “The construction of the college was officially started at the groundbreaking ceremony in October, 1977.” I think that's trustee Harriett Walther at left. Possibly, at the lectern: Ed Hart.

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

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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