Saturday, December 21, 2013

A screen door on a submarine

     Did you know that IVC’s eternal President, Glenn Roquemore, is on the “Political Action Committee” of the Association of California Community College Administrators (ACCCA)?
     At the ACCCA website, Glenn is listed along with seven other PAC members.
     What’s the ACCCA, you ask? Well, according to the website, “Established in 1975, ACCCA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of administrator's rights” [sic]. It is, they explain, “the premier association for community college administrators in California.”
     I guess these administrators have it pretty bad. Much put upon. So they've got this lobbyist organization to give 'em a little muscle so they can protect themselves. Like a can of Mace.

* * *

     Turns out, Glenn is on the ACCCA board. He’s the organization’s "Second Vice President."
     David Bugay, the SOCCCD Vice Chancellor of Human Resources, is also on the board.

* * *

     Looks like the ACCCA and its PAC are nakedly political. They unapologetically play the lobbying game up in Sacramento.
     Elsewhere on the site, we’re told:
     The ACCCA Political Action Committee is the only PAC among administrative organizations, and gives ACCCA the ability to support political campaigns and legislators through direct contributions. The PAC ensures that ACCCA has the means to cultivate relationships with legislators, influence legislation, and contribute to significant initiatives and statewide campaigns that benefit administrators. ACCCA also employs a lobbyist to achieve these goals, and uses PAC money to support his efforts.
     They advocate pension reform.
     They provide salary surveys to their members. (Aren't paid enough, I guess.)
     They’ve got a newsletter with ads and everything.
     Evidently, they have strong views about the mess at City College of San Francisco. Some administrators are under threat there 'cuz CalSTRS thinks they aren't "performing creditable service." Imagine.

* * *

     Like I said, the ACCCA is all about promoting administrators’ rights. They're pretty focused on that. The organization’s PAC
is ... solely dedicated to advocating for your administrative rights in Sacramento. The PAC ensures that ACCCA has the means to influence legislation and contribute to statewide campaigns that help administrators throughout the California community college system.
     I wonder how the ACCCA feels about the growing sense,* across the country, that higher education is being overrun, even ruined, by administrators? And that said administrators are more useless than ever, which is really saying something?
     I wonder if ACCCA have a mascot? 
     I’ve got a mascot idea.
     How about a screen door on a submarine?

Glenn's the Captain.

*Regarding this sense, see 'The Fall of the Faculty'
Very top down
“I wanted to emphasize a major shift that’s been underway for several decades. Deans have an academic background. Years ago, they were part-time and always part of the faculty. This is extremely important because, like the faculty, they saw the university as an instrument of teaching and scholarship. Today, we have a cadre of professional administrators. I called them deanlets to give emphasis to the difference. They either have no faculty background or they decided early in their careers that their talents lay elsewhere. To them, what used to be the means is now the end. Instead of an institution serving teaching and scholarship, teaching and scholarship serve the institution.”

Yet another FUBAR: the "commencement prayer" issue at IVC

     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. (The prayer issue in this district predates Karla's efforts of the last dozen or so years. It actually goes back at least 22 years.)
     Naturally, in defiance, the Wagner- and Fuentes-dominated board, with then-Chancellor Raghu Mathur, started laying on the religion mighty thick, which led to the “Westphal v. Wagner” litigation, of which I was a part. (See Prayer in the SOCCCD.)
"Loophole" Boy
     In the end, a settlement was reached according to which a “commencement committee” (actually: the group of "event planners") was supposed to decide independently—i.e., without the influence of trustees or college presidents—whether or not to have an invocation or prayer during commencement ceremonies. (See actual "resolution" below.)
     As you know, Saddleback College’s Tod Burnett immediately defied 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.
     Folks complained, but it didn't matter. Not to this board.
     Ah, yes. Exploiting a loophole. Reminds me of the conniveries of such heroes of yore as Steve Frogue and Tom Fuentes, always lyin' and cheatin' for the Lord.
     Meanwhile, at IVC, friends close to the action informed me that the relevant IVC committee was indeed making the determination regarding prayer according to Hoyle. So I backed off and let them be.
     By late Spring (2013), however, I decided to pursue the matter more vigorously. Was the “commencement committee” at IVC, assuming there was such a thing, duly deciding the prayer question—and without undue influence?
     But first thing's first. Is there such a committee? Is there a committee, anyway, that is charged with raising and answering the question of whether there would be a prayer at commencement? Just who are the "event planners"?
Rumored to be Glenn's
"spiritual guide"or possibly
Glenn's "spirit animal"
     On June 25, 2013, I wrote the Academic Senate President, knowing that she, if anyone, would be able to answer my question. In a friendly email, I wrote
     [A]s you know, the "Wagner v. Westphal" settlement essentially requires that the "commencement" committee will decide, independently of outside influence, whether to include an invocation/prayer. ¶ I do not recall how it is that the membership of that committee is determined. No doubt you do. Do we (the AS) appoint faculty members? I suspect that we do. ¶ If not, we need to consider changing that. ¶ Hope to hear from you. ¶ In either event, perhaps we can make this a higher priority next school year.
     The divine Miss S is known and celebrated for many things, but she is not known for speedy responses, and so I waited.
     On August 31, I received this response:
Hi Roy,
     There are several Commencement-related committees [she then notes the unclarity this situation creates]…. ¶ Scholarship awards (that’s the group that decides who gets what) Commencement speaker – for next year; this year (May 14) should already be decided but I don’t know the answer  ¶ Scholarship “oversight” TF [task force]– that is the one that started/restarted last summer to try to figure out how to make the system work. When that group was initially brought together, I thought that it was to look at scholarships and commencement issues, but apparently not. ¶ … and none, as far as I can tell, to look at the actual commencement exercises and how we arrange them. …[I]t appears that the commencement ceremony and associated [folderol] is a Helen L[ocke] - Glenn R deal. ¶ I will ask [IVC Prez Glenn Roquemore] about this at our next regular meeting.
     On that day (Aug. 31), I responded:
     Wow, if there is no "commencement committee" that oversees/plans the commencement, that's a problem. ¶ Do let me know how Glenn answers your question.

     I didn’t hear from Ms. S again (on this matter) for nearly four months—until today, Dec. 21:
"Let us pray" (& cheat) 
Hi Roy,
     It has taken many repetitive inquiries to ferret out an answer, because I kept getting partial answers. My response to you was further delayed because I tied together my notion of addressing what we see as a problem with this answer. I have not “fixed” it, but I think that I’m chopping away, and I did want to answer you in the same calendar year, even with a less than satisfactory answer. ¶ It seems to be “Student Services Council”, which in turn, has no faculty representation. In and of itself, no faculty is OK (parallel to, for example, Dean’s Council), but the problem, obviously, is that this group has purview over events in which faculty have interest and should have standing. So far, I have only been able to insert myself into these things informally and personally, which is a band-aid, not a fix. It is on the list for my first official meeting with GR next semester, to try to ‘convince’ Linda F of the virtues of inclusiveness…. ¶ Commencement is untied from scholarships, and we’ve been focusing on the latter since its timing is more critical. Thank you for your participation and voice in that discussion; I hope we can resolve those issues soon.
     —Well, I guess you’ll just have to stay tuned.
     So typical here at IVC. Everything's either encased in mud, obscured by fog, or operating (in a manner unknown & unhinged) behind closed doors in haunted and hollow A100.
     I think I'll contact this "Student Services Council" and ask how their "prayer" deliberations went last year. What do you suppose they'll say? (Normally, I'd contact Helen, but somehow I don't think that will work.)
     Here's my prediction. They'll say, "huh?" 
     Wanna bet?

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

Friday, December 20, 2013

Solstice: Remembering Liz Marek and the Lockerbie Bombing 25 years later

Rebel Girl is a party girl and even though she does not ascribe to any particular faith, she enjoys this season of celebration with its stories of miracles and lights, pilgrimages and stars shining bright.  She likes the solstice best and feels a sense of accomplishment on living through that day, the shortest one of the year.  When she was a child learning of such things in a public elementary school classroom, Rebel Girl once imagined she could hear the gentle crack of the earth's axis as it tilted, once more, back toward the sun, toward light.

The past 25 years have usually found Rebel Girl and her family hurtling south to Mexico on the Solstice.  This year, they will be a little late. But every year on the Solstice, they remember that first year they drove south for the season: 1988. She first wrote about on the blog five years ago.

from December 22, 2008
It was 20 Years Ago Today:

Twenty years ago, Rebel Girl and Red Emma first headed south into Baja, borrowing a friend's car and another friend's travel guide (what friends!). They fell in love with a part of Mexico that many find unlovable (the desert! The Sea of Cortez!) and have returned every year except for this one. This year finds them at home, unnerved by the brutal violence along the border, unwilling to be Americans who drive past other people's tragedies on their way to their own good time.

They usually leave on Solstice, the shortest day of the year. Rebel Girl can't remember if that was true for that first trip twenty years ago. She expects it might be. All she knows is that when they left, they knew about the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

So they left on or shortly after December 21, 1988 and returned sometime after the new year, covered in dust and sunburnt. They hadn't followed the news very much, hadn't thought about the bombing except in the way that you do about such events, a distant awareness of someone else's heartbreak. So when they returned and found out that Liz Marek, fellow activist and friend had been on board the flight, there was shock. Liz was an activist of some standing in the LA area, a veteran of the so-called Great Peace March across that country and of many Nevada Test Site actions, a charismatic lead singer in a lesbian rock band and general all-round good person. Liz, working for a non-profit housing agency, had been instrumental in helping Red and Reb and their roommates obtain an apartment after their eviction from their home (long story).

Liz had once complimented Rebel Girl on her design of a banner for a Test Site demonstration even though Rebel Girl now understands that Liz was only being kind. Rebel Girl was on her knees painting it in the sanctuary of the Church in Ocean Park (some church!). Liz had stopped by on her way to a meeting. The banner was wincingly raw and earnest and the memory of it still possesses the power to embarrass Rebel Girl: "The Patriarchy Stops Here," it read, with an angry pregnant woman, her womb filled with a mushroom cloud, pushing back at the lettering.

Rebel Girl still remembers how Liz could belt out her band's version of "Devil in a Blue Dress" (she sang it as "Big Dyke in a Blue Dress"). Back then, she admired the courage, humor and vision of activists like Liz – they had fun at the same time they did good works. She wanted to be like them: gutsy, justice-loving good people.

Liz had been sitting in seat 36 C of the Pan Am flight, traveling with a friend, having got cheap seats for a holiday trip to England. She was 30 years old. The obituaries all identified her as an actress and peace activist.

Later, when Liz's memorial was held at the Church in Ocean Park, Rebel Girl couldn't look into the faces of Liz's family, of her mother; their grief was too stark. She concentrated instead on repairing the cake which had suffered some damage in transit. It was white frosting with blue cursive lettering spelling out Liz's name and some other message Rebel Girl can no longer remember, just as she can no longer remember the witty name of Liz's band.

So, while people gave eulogies and sang songs, told stories and wept, Rebel Girl repaired the sky blue letters, rejoining the links, restoring the integrity of the final loops of the lowercase "k." She smoothed the frosting, white as a cloud.


The original post inspired a few comments from other friends of Liz who found it via the web:
Anonymous said...
I was on the great peace march and searched out Liz's name today in memory of her great funny human self. I think [her] band was the Diet Cherry Cokes.

Anonymous said...
I knew Liz on the GPM and deeply appreciated her intelligence, wit and humanity. Thanks for your remembrance of her.

Dear Rebel,
I was at the memorial for Liz at Ocean Park and I visited the Pan Am Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery every year until I left DC in late 1999.

Her family was very kind to me at a time when they were grieving and I'll never forget how gracious they were/are. Especially when I told them about the couple of times I'd be so darned frustrated with knocking on the porta pottie doors and hoping folks would knock back so I could feel the vibration and not accidentally open the door and expose them. When Liz was around and saw me she'd grab my hand and pull me down the line of porta potties and would knock and knock until she found an empty porta potty for me. Her actions saved me a lot of time and she needn't've done it but did because she "got it" that I'm deaf and sometimes a helping hand helps just that much to make one's day a bit brighter. Just for this not so little kindness she's aces in my book.

Just so you know, I was shown kindness by every Marcher while I was on the 9-month walk. This made a huge impact on me. Huge. It still does to this day.

Peace Marcher
Twenty-five years is a long time.

Liz's mother still lives in Brookfield, Connecticut.

Rebel Girl found an article from Tuesday August 29, 1989: "Mother Makes Somber Visit to Lockerbie" which is exactly what its title suggests. The online version of the article features a tiny black and white headshot of Liz; it is not the best photo and the online scan of it fragments it even more but there's something there still in Liz's eyes that Reb likes to see.  Her direct gaze. It's Liz all right. The article appeared in the Connecticut newspaper The Day.

Immediately to the right is another article: "Black, white African leaders meet: Kaunda, de Klerk talk in Zambia" and a larger photo of  de Klerk, Botha (remember him?) and a skeptical Kaunda who is described as "a relentless critic of apartheid."


Monday, December 16, 2013

The December meeting of the SOCCCD BOT: financial aid gets a grilling, TJ gets top billing, & Goodwill make a killing

SOCCCD demilitarized zone
     (See also Tere's board meeting highlights.)
     "Conference call for Roy Bauer." Some such thing was announced by a dark voice (PJ) booming from the PA in the Ronnie Reagan meeting room just seconds after I arrived here. People laughed and I laughed with them. People are in a good mood around here. Maybe it will improve my own.
     On Friday, despite having crawled my way slowly from the depths of a bad cold for two months, I suddenly declined into an illness of unknown kind but profound unpleasantness that left me utterly exhausted, feelings terrible chills, and unable to think a clear thought. Sleep was everything, though I couldn't really manage it in any satisfactory way. That lasted until about Sunday morning, at which time I seemed to improve--just in time for the "Homeland" finale at 6:00 p.m. (I've got satellite.)
     So, today, I arrived at school, knowing that I had to prepare, not only for my two classes (Good Lord, will this semester never end?), but for a meeting of an ad hoc subgroup of the Scholarship Taskforce. Good grief. I had to do some quick research on the phone for that. Talked to a nice lady at Santa Ana College about how those people set up their committee to review student scholarship applications.
Much like the Chandosmobile
     The ad hoc meeting went well, if too long, I guess. We got what we wanted, I suppose. But I was glad to finally head home, which I did with unusual vehicular ruthlessness, like the driving dead.
     At home, Young Theodore made clear that things had gone very badly for him all day somehow, and I was to listen to his full peevish feline yammerfest. I lay on the ground and listened to his rant while scratching his back and calling him "an excellent young man." This went on for nearly 45 minutes--I turned on the boob tube and watched a typically half-witted episode of Mystery Quest; it was about Area 51--and then I was off to this God-forsaken meeting of the SOCCCD BOT.
     It's 5:37, and there's no sign of the trustees. Back atcha in a minute.
     It's 5:42, and all through the house, not a trustee is stirring, near as I can tell. IVC's Chief Glen is loitering five feet to my right while I examine the room. Judging by the endless fidgeting going on up at the podium, the word is out that the trustees are running late. Natch.
     Ray Chandos is in the room, twenty feet to my left. Yep, I thought that I had spotted his dreadful car next to mine in the parking lot—an old red VW Beetle that evidently has never suffered a wash or shine in its nearly fifty years of life. A youngish guy is sitting next to Ray. No doubt Ray's here to suggest the erection of a monument to his pal and mentor Raghu "Goo" Mathur, that Rat Bastard of Our Past. If the idea is to create a pile of pig sh*t as tribute, then, well, I'm all in favor of it, as long as we can read Raghu's name clearly.
     (It occurs to me, belatedly, that Ray was there as a show of support for Helen Locke, who's getting canned.)
     Still no sign of the board. It's 5:47. The usual suspects are all in place, yucking it up or sitting in silence.
     But no trustees.
     It's 5:56 and some creatures are stirring. There's Dave Lang. And Gary Poertner. Tod Burnett is out among the living, too. Stay tuned.
     5:59. Prendergast and Jemal—and Wright—have arrived. The IVC contingent are now in the room (no doubt they were in closed session, discussing the firing of a certain individual).
     Here's Marcia. No sign of "she who must be obeyed" (or there'll be eye-rollage).
     Bill Jay just waddled in. Now he's waddling back out. That's not good.

The meeting begins:

     6:03 Marcia reads actions, closed session: 6/0 vote, approved unpayed leave, classified employee. Also: 6/0 vote, approved general leave of absence until May, classified employee. That's all. (I suppose that there are some actions that, as per Brown Act, need not be announced. Not sure.)
     (UPDATE: today [12/17], I learned that, prior the the board's retreat to closed session, Ray Chandos and Ian Pendry addressed the board regarding the dismissal(?) of Helen Locke. That no action with regard to Locke was reported in open session implies that no action re Locke was taken--some degree of victory for her, it seems. It implies a defeat for the Glennsters, I suppose.)
     VP of the board, T.J. Prendergast, is running the meeting. Nancy's absent tonight. No explanation.
     Burnett walks up for the ritual slathering of commendations. Jim Pyle, about to retire, comes on down. Gives brief, gracious speech. Applause.
     "Two success stories" next, Burnett declares. Students who received "top awards" --something about architecture. Sustainable proposals, a city hall site. Calls each kid up. Applause.
     Burnett's now into his second group of students. Magazine awards. Burnett seems to be in pain; likely caused by banging his leg into something hard and sharp on the way across the room; maybe Tere kicked him dunno. Golly. He's sweating up there. Tere wields her camera.

The annual organizational meeting:

New Prez, new era?
     The annual organizational meeting begins. Lang nominates a slate. Starts with TJ Prendergast as President. No other nominations. TJ accepts. 6 yes, 1 absent. Done deal. WE HAVE A NEW BOARD PRESIDENT.
     VP? Wright nominates Nancy P as VP. No other nominees. Unanimous again.
     Clerk? Jemal nominates Marcia M. No other nominees. Unanimous again.
     Etc. I'm skipping the little stuff, like district dog catcher and board luncheon meat purchaser.
     6:23: they're still at it with this annual organizational meeting. Public comments coming up.

     Another special meeting: Facilities Corporation Meeting. Blah, blah, blah.
     They're taking a short break to rearrange the deck chairs.
     6:31 -- They're back!
     No public comments. Natch. In this district, the faculty get the government they deserve.

Board reports:

     Bill Jay: "It's music time," he says, turning his mike off. Turns it back on. Describes events he's attended. He's got music on the brain.
     Tim Jemal: It's been a year for me now. "It is an honor." Still believe that CC's provide a second chance, but things are changing. Area of relations with our employer community--a focus of his. We're moving in all those directions. We're committed. We can do better. Especially at IVC, need to take Foundations to next level. Happy holidays.
     Marcia Milchiker: she congrats Prendergast on becoming Prez. It is a good board. Attended paramedic grad ceremony, etc.
     T.J. Prendergast: attended various events. Today: groundbreaking of science building. Congrats to officer Pyle.
     Jim Wright: Congrats. Delighted to be at groundbreaking of new sciences building. Missed Rich McCullough there. Nurse's pinning, etc. Laguna Woods TV interview. Once again, his voice trails off and nearly everyone falls asleep. (Refers to Nancy's being ill as his voice becomes inaudible.)
     Dave Lang: Congrats. Nurses pinning ceremony. Beautiful.
     Student trustee D. Robinson: congrats. Mentions student load debit card, presaging fireworks to come. Story in OC Reg. (See below.)

     Chancellor's Report (Poertner): two comments. Wants to recognize the work of Board Prez Nancy Padberg. Prez for last three years. Great for me to have stability which she has brought to the meetings. A joy to work with. Got a tip a week or so ago—facuty and deans at mysterious meeting. Talking about how they could have a better understanding of one another, get along better. Facilitator there. Already had a meeting last Spring. A joint project between college president and Academic Senate prez. Good work. Great spirit.

College Presidents reports:

The eternal IVC Prez
     IVC's Glenn Roquemore: highlights special programs. Adopt-a-family. Local low income families. 6,500 families have been helped. Also, Angel Tree, associated with student government. Girls and Boys club(s) of Tustin. Performing Arts Center held own Toys For Tots. Two students developed "smokeless stoves." Will be sent to Kenya. Was in paper. VP Fontanilla led effort to provide holiday dinners for veterans. Just received my service pin. Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah blah.

     Saddleback's Tod Burnett: finals week. Blah, blah, blah. Preparing for next semester. Flex week. Happy holidays.

     No discussion items. Oh good.

     Consent calendar: anything to pull? Yep. Lang pulls 5.9. Wright pull 5.2. Prend pulls 5.4. Motion to approve balance. Unanimous.

Pulled from consent calendar:

     Linda Fontanilla comes up to explain large cost of agreement. Goodwill Industries, interpreting services: $95,000, up from $90k. We have 14 deaf students(!). Each needs full or part-time assistants. Lang: why wouldn't we contract on "as needed" basis? Fitz chimes in. We're near the $100K limit. Lang makes sure no more funds spent without board approval. OK. Everybody's reasonably happy.

     5.4. Prendergast has several questions re purchase of four 12-passenger vans. $107K. Brandye comes up. "I buy the vans, but…" kind of answer. Need special licenses. Dean Whats-her-name comes up to answer questions. We have a fleet of passenger vans. Not increasing the size of pool, just keeping them up to speed. Approved.

     5.9: Lang: sticker shock…projects. New life science 22mil, new barrance entrance: 2.2 mil; ATEP swing space proposed. Budget not yet identified. Renovation A400, yes….. I couldn't follow this. We've funded all of these at escalated value. We figure 3% escalation in projecting increase. Last few years, construction costs fluctuated wildly. Hard to project, says Brandye. We use 3%. Lang notes that we have a motivation to get these projects done sooner rather than later. (Hint, hint.) Brandye seemed to get that. Approved.

General Action Items:

     6.1 - There really isn't a presentation, Glenn explains. "Community college pathway to law school" program. Have agreements with four law schools thus far. Automatic admission to those law schools. it's a 2 + 2 + 3 program. (The second two years at university.) Includes LSAT preparation support. Supported by state bar. Trustees seemed puzzled. Wright: "is there a need for new attorneys?" A gal answers that the state bar is aiming at more diversity. Got enough white males in law, evidently. A support pathway. Student trustee chimed in with example of former SC student now doing well at UCI law school. Unanimous approval.

     6.2 - same for SC

     6.3 - SC Science Building - Hire construction management firm. Lang: wasn't this the lowest bidder? Is that who we're hiring now? (There's been much talk in the past about getting away from that sorry model.) Brandye: we pick quality of contractor first. Blah blah blah. Didn't pick them because they were lowest bidder. (I guess they just happen to be lowest.) Prendergast: have we used them before? No. 6 yes votes.

     6.4 BP revisions.
     6.5 - payment for absent trustee. Approved unanimously as per usual.

     6.6 - Academic personnel actions. Wright: he makes the point that he's "Very concerned, a lot of work" for a certain dean. What's the reason for that? Burnett: we're expecting Dean Rocky S to be back in June. Blah blah blah. Wright: seems like a "mammoth job." Burnett agrees. Approved unanimously.  --Except "no" by Wright.

     6.7 - Classified personnel actions. Approved unanimously, no comments.


7.1 both colleges, report on financial aid debit cards (report requested by Marcia M) - any presentations? Burnett says "yes."

     See Student loan debit cards draw complaints, lawsuits (Oct. 4)

Marcia tells 'em
what she wants
     Linda Fontanilla steps up. We understood this to be a written report, she says. Not prepared to do a Powerpoint, but can answer any questions. (Egg on face time.)
     Marcia is disappointed, no presentation. Brought this forward because concerned that now give financial aid monies by using company Higher One. 80% of revenue is student fees. But their own lit says 50%. Also we've been told that using Higher One is advantageous. But are we putting students interests first, given this fee business? Are students being gouged? A debit and credit card. Students think that it's coming from their college. But that's not what it is. Are these things clear to students? How long is our contract with Higher One? (Marcia had read an article about Higher One, I think. She's onto something.)

     Director of Financial aid at SC speaks. No competitive bid. Why not?, asks Marcia. Good question. "It wasn't something we were planning on doing because of the service they are offering." (Huh?) Mentions there's a 50 cent fee per card swipe. Students need to know how to avoid that.
     Fontanilla speaks: gave 'em a three year contract. 10 years ago, she says, we were looking for a way to be more efficient in dispersal of funds. Higher One was one of the first firms to come forward. They understood rules and regulations. Could receive dispersements, deal with them. This was an opportunity for students to establish a bank account in their name. We encourage students to use card as debit charge to avoid fee. We've found Higher One to be credible. Supported by Dept of Ed. Yes, there've been articles questioning the firm. We did a competitive bid process. Other banks told us, we don't know the regulations. And so we awarded contract to Higher One.
     Marcia: Talked with Brian Dickerson (she mentions who that is briefly) — who sent articles that seem damning about Higher One. Dickerson says new companies are being formed all the time. We're locked into Higher One for three years. Next time, I want three to five venders to bid, says Marcia. (Wow. Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!) Charges that pile up if card is not used for a while, etc. Marcia emphasizes that this is important. Will ask for another report soon. She's a dog with a bone, and she ain't droppin' it.
     Jemal: thanks for your report. Some followup. (Uh-oh; it's the second wave.) Higher One is saving college/district money, you say. You give a figure of savings.
     SC guy answers that savings concern staffing. Fitz steps in. Dispersing checks--processing. Time it takes. Staff time. All manual.
     Jemal seemed dubious.
     Fitz goes on: Were problems in the past before used Higher One. (It was a competitive process, she says.) Burden on students to wait for financial aid. An effort to get money into students' hands earlier. So that's what this is.
     Jemal: thanks. You mentioned advantage of financial literacy education. But OC Reg article talks of students being misled. Hundreds of dollars in fees paid unnecessarily by students.
     SC guy answers: education on Higher One is key. We have a financial workshop. Higher One comes in for this. Yes, need continual education of students.
     Jemal: so students aren't being misled by Higher One? Are you certain? SC guy gives nervous, equivocal answer.
     Now Prendergast provides the third wave, and it isn't even the last. It is possible to manage these things on your own, avoiding these fees, he says. We may be saving $11k, but I bet we're spending more than that on this firm. Are we serving the students? P is dubious, skeptical. This is a concern of this board, he goes on to say. Even without reading the report, there are contradictions here. It's a debit card, but we have to tell them its a credit card to avoid fees. Asinine. Something's wrong here. We shouldn't have to be the ones to educate students each week. I have a real issue with this. What happens when students leave here? Will they be sucked into a new credit card? I have real concerns.
     SC guy tries to answer. Blah blah blah.
     Student trustee (the fourth wave!): mentions that several colleges are considering no longer using Higher One. Main reason: contract signed by students. Demand of encouragement to use card. Vague directions. OC Reg Watchdog: mentions buying groceries or jeans at GAP, …. in ad. Jeans?
     So it looks like the financial aid crowd is getting smacked around pretty good tonight. Standin' there with their Bics in their hands.
     SC guy says: we're not encouraging use of card. But proper use. Regarding that ad: he contacted Higher One and they removed it.
     Student trustee: so you're going to make students aware of these fees? These fees can put a huge dent in amount. SC guy: yes, that's the plan. To educate the students. Student nsists that they address Higher One fees.
     Lang: focuses on attachment C. District savings using Higher One. Questions that. A little confusing. (I'm not sure what Dave was saying. Maybe he was saying that we've got to use some vendor; maybe not Higher One.)
    Prendergast: "didn't mean to put you on the hot seat there." Yeah, but that's what happened. Big time.

7.2 - report on security cameras (requested by Jemal).
     SC chief (Wilkinson?) comes up to explain camera use. We sought to find "solution" for district and colleges with changed technologies. (He's speaking some special dialect, it seems.) We were in a good position to use these cameras as a tool. Shows a slide of public safety camera. I've often used this kind of techhology in my career, says W. They prrovide a deterrent. Perps come to do property crime, they see cameras and go somewhere else. There's a massive release of prisoners going on. Cameras can be used for assessment prior to sending cops to the location. Great for assisting in evidence, etc. (This guy talks in the quasi-technical code language of a cop, and it's grating.) Wilkinson vetted these vendors. We were able to identify a "solution" that was best for us. Goes on about a "three year camera." No maintenance. "It all works. It works phenomenal."
    Freakin' Earl Scheib.
    Director of IT (something)—Anthony Somebody—at Saddleback comes up. Rattles on. Access to equipment. Watermarks. I dunno.
     Chief Glen of IVC comes up. Touches on privacy and personal liberties. The board hasn't approved a policy yet. But we have our own rules and regulations. Policies. We're using this equipment for security. Used for deterrence and apprehension, criminal investigation, emergency services, monitoring during disaster. Cameras are very obvious, not secret. Data that is collected stored for a year. No, won't monitor 24/7. Concerned with privacy. We'll use these in pubic areas. Data would only be released if other agency requests it (supoena), required by law.
     Wilkinson highlights "video management software"—floorplan. Little green icons. Put mouse over icon and immediately see from camera. Pizazz. Would be useful during a "major disaster." "Situational awareness," blah blah blah. Tells some BS story about memorizing the 4th Amendment. Hard to say whether trustees are digging this. Likely so. Pretty good presentation,  I guess, despite the heavy load of police-talk and used care salesmanship. (I'd send this guy home with homework.) Any questions?
     Jemal: 100% supportive of security cameras. Completely agree. Conspicuous signage is important. Says has 23 questions, but won't ask all of them (laughter). So what will this cost? $1325 per camera, I think. 47 cameras.  200 cameras for Saddleback. (This Wilkinson fella is a jumping bean.)
     Jemal presses: did you go to several vendors? Where are we at with this? Wilkinson sat down with several vendors. Seems proud of himself, what he learned. We came up with a "viable vendor." Fitz: no, not a formal bid process. If we buy ($200k), we'll go through that process.
     Jemal: we don't have a policy on this? No. ….. Asks about installation (by vendor). And keeping of data? 90 days. Wilkinson comes up again with "That's an excellent question!" I do wish he'd cool it with that stuff. Does this blarney fly with some people? Just give me the facts, dude.
     Jemal still presses. Strains on network adding cameras? Blah, blah, blah. They stop making sense, talking about gigabites and a don't know what else. Infrastructure. Wilkinson pops up and blathers about the "tool." What a bullshitter. Used car salesman. (Hopefully, he's also a good cop. I have  no dobut he is. But shuddup man.)
     Lang: it's mentioned that we don't have a policy in place on this. So where are we at on that process? Lang grills Fitz for a bit. Work on policy. Blah blah.
    Student trustee: supports greater security, etc. Evening and night school students—will they be benefited? "Excellent question," says Joe Friday. Blathers about ambient light and once again says "excellent question." Earl freakin' Scheib.
    7.3 — the rest of the agenda is routine bullshit. I'm outa here. 8:05.

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