Friday, November 21, 2014

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Monday, November 17, 2014

November's meeting of the SOCCD BOT: live and direct!

     Be sure to check out Tere's Board Meeting Highlights.
     7:08 p.m.: Well, here I am once again in the Ronald Reagan BOT meeting room in beauteous Mission Viejo, CA. The trustees are scheduled to emerge from closed session at 7:00 p.m., but that hasn’t happened. Stay tuned.

     7:12 – The room’s fairly full. I see some green shirts (the faculty union crowd, focused on "the contract," which is being negotiated with the district). No sign yet of the trustees.
     7:16 - I had to get one of the Saddleback tech guys to help me to connect to Wi-Fi.

     According to the agenda, the closed session once again concerns the evaluation of various college administrators, including: VP(SC) at Saddleback; Dean, Fine Arts, Business (IVC); Dean, Online (IVC); VPI (IVC); Dean, Fine Arts (SC); Director, Health and Wellness (IVC); VPI (SC).
     After last month's closed session, it was announced that the contract of  IVC's Dean of Fine Arts/Business was not renewed--no doubt based on the recommendation of either the Prez or the VPI (likely the latter). In the subsequent 24 hours, that action caused a bit of a ruckus for various reasons, including: administration at IVC hadn't bothered to consult any of the affected Schools (Arts, Business) before taking this action. That's typical of the top-down approach at IVC.

     7:21 - Still no sign of the Borg--um, no, the Board.

     7:22 - One might speculate that the trustees are late again 'cause they're engaged in "heated discussion" over the fate of some of these administrators. For instance, maybe they're thinking twice about what they did to Mr. Gatewood last time (the IVC Arts/Business dean). Arts and Business faculty at IVC are hopping mad. They've had like twenty different deans in the last fifteen years (something like that). Where's the stability, man? Other Schools, I'm told (e.g., maybe Life Sciences) have been similarly plagued with instability, caused, of course, by top administrative folly.

     7:27 - Trustee Tim Jemal emerges. Now Nancy Padberg. Dave Lang. This thing will start soon, but a half hour late.
     7:28 - Nancy came out to the audience to look for Tere, who stepped out. Needs a ride home, I guess. Bill Jay has appeared. And Marcia M. That leaves Wright and Prendergast, the board Prez.

     7:33 - Imminent commencemenship. A silence is slowly falling over the room. Here comes Warren Kinsler, one of the district's lawyers. (Sheesh, what's that about?) He shakes his head in the negative at Prendergast. So now, apparently, they're ready to start.

     7:33 - Some conferring between Marcia M and staff. (Marcia wants to get the reading of closed session actions right.) They begin!
     Marcia reads out actions taken in closed session: on a 7/0 vote, they approved leave with benefits for classified employee to teach a class; On a 6/0 vote [?], Jay negative [?], the board voted non-renewal (?) of contract of Dean Advanced Technology and something-or-other. I think. Fired? (I really need to start paying attention.)
     On a 7/0 vote, they accepted the resignation of IVC's Dean of Fine Arts, Business. I wonder if they were devided about that? Or maybe about the other guy who was canned?

Public comments:
     Paula Jacobs: a statement by a part-time faculty. Been teaching for more than 3 years. Stress of making a living--it's hard. Education has not been a pathway to stability for me. I owe $15K in loans. Lousy car. No A/C. No assurance of classes next semester. Students line up to talk to me after class--I have no office hours. This district does not pay me for them; provides no office space. I also teach at CSU as a lecturer. I get some health care there. Seniority means something there. Not at SOCCCD. I keep teaching here because I love the students. Students deserve better, faculty deserve better. We can make a big difference in students lives; but it's harder to do under these miserable circumstances.
     Juan Salazar (evidently, a student): my first time here. Very disappointed. My time is worth money, but you started more than a half hour late. I'm not allowed to be late to classes. I don't appreciate how teachers are being treated. I represent the future. People who are supposed to show me the way -- it's a trickle down effect when conditions are bad for instructors. I'm only given two minutes to speak. I have to go back to this reality. I hope you'll listen to our grievances. [The student's demeanor and words seem to be received by trustees as though they were smacked across the face. This kid ain't real smooth.]

     Glenn Roquemore of IVC steps up, begins speaking. Evidently, this is in recognition of faculty Tiffany Tran, Diana Hurlbut, and (administrator?) Corrine Doughty. Applause. Photo op. No speeches. (Thanks!)
     Tod Burnett comes up. He commends Chris Wilkinson, Louis Sessler[sp?], and Michael James. A waterline break occurred here at Saddleback; very serious. These guys took care of it, avoided the otherwise inevitable three days without water. Restored water within 20 hours.
     Next: Burnett and Roquemore commend Saddleback College VETS Center and IVC Veterans Service Center for [our colleges'] being designated as 2015 Top Military Friendly Schools. Three individuals recognized.
Board reports:
     Student trustee Carillo: responds to the student's "disappointed" public comment. He seems pretty "mad," notes Carillo. Please come to me, says Carillo; that's what I'm here for.
     Trustee Dave Lang: Jemal and I are the audit committee. We met and were joined by VC Fitzsimmons, et al. The outcome of our meeting is on display, item 6.1, tonight. Lang wants to applaud "entire financial team." Those people are making our district perhaps the financially strongest in the state. Also: belated gratitude to all veterans.
     Trustee James Wright: attended a number of events. K-12/Saddleback partnership event. Football game against Fullerton. Won last game against Golden West. (As usual, Wright proceeds as though the Saddleback victories are district victories--i.e., IVC doesn't exist.) Attended IVC and SC veterans day commemorations. Well attended event. SC: Veterans day ceremony at the memorial. Enjoyed that. Applauds IVC for their model UN victory. Their team took away top honors in national competition. Also: SC--contributions to scholars' program. That fund has $409K.
     Trustee TJ Prendergast: also attended Vet's Day ceremony. Very nice.
     Trustee Nancy Padberg: I ran for reelection and was able to prevail; fourth consecutive term. Proud of that. (Nancy seems much more on her game, much stronger tonight.)
     Trustee Marcia Milchiker: attended a number of events: Vet's Day, "Frankenstein" thing, Science Lecture Series (Joe Palca?). Joe talked about how he has to make his radio show interesting and understandable or people just won't tune in. Just like a professor here! Etc. Went to an event where she could talk about her own research, years ago.
     Trustee Tim Jemal: congrats to Nancy P and her election victory. No mean feat. Notes that Lang comes to audit meetings with post-it notes, etc. Impressive. (Lang feigns embarrassment.) I think Jemal mentions some monthly Seizure World TV thing. Announcement from State's Chancellor's Office - job creation, etc. Yes, there are too many task forces, but some are really important.
     Trustee Bill Jay: doesn't have his mike on. Nobody can break in to tell him. Goes through a list of foreign places--destinations of summer college programs at nearby colleges, but we've only got Spain. We really "buttoned down" on safety on those trips several years ago. (Yeah, Fuentes was worried about boys and girls bunking together. Plus the possibility of violence. Clueless. Creepy.) Unfortunately, in the process, we managed to discourage these trips to other countries. We seem to be back to taking these trips. Holds up some pamphlet.
     Chancellor Gary Poertner: the state, the community, is looking more and more to have community colleges prepare our citizens for work. It's expected of us now to provide trained, educated workers. More connections now with the business community. At IVC, Prez Roquemore has been involved with the Irvine Chamber of Commerce, etc. Biggest feather in our caps: he was appointed to board of governance, OC business counsel. A three year term. (Meager, bewildered applause.)
     IVC Prez Glenn Roquemore: thanks to various people, etc. Solar decathlon, yadda yadda.
     SC Prez Tod Burnett: blah blah blah (I had some technical difficulties; struggling to get back online.) "Happy Thanksgiving."
     A student government kid speaks, charmingly. "Blah blah blah," she said. Ain't she cute? Nancy looks at this kid as though she's about to pick her up like a puppy. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.)
     Board requests for reports: Lang has a request. Something, I dunno. They approve it unanimously. (Gosh, I really should start paying attention, but there's so much blarney and tediosity.)

     Prendergast moves up 6.1, 6.2, 6.3 ("Time is money," he says, a sly allusion to the student harangue of a half hour ago.)

     6.1 Annual Fiscal Audit report presented. Lady speaks. Three opinions. [The upshot: her company's report, as far as it goes, is all positive. Whoopee.] On page 1 of report: auditor's report. "An unmodified opinion," which is the highest level, I guess.
     Financial statement opinion: did not locate material weaknesses. No findings or deficiencies. That's the verbiage for this sort of thing, I guess. Financial Aid cluster: unmodified opinion with no material weaknesses. I.e., "good."
     Prior year finding: cleared as well.
     Major portion of report: blah blah blah. Something about $542 million. $43 million over prior year.

     6.2 Retiree OPEB trust annual audit report. Same lady: the news is good, somehow. 11.5 million income. That's good, I guess.

     6.3 SC Foundation, IVC Foundation, ATEP foundation, SOCCCD foundation.
     Everything "presents fairly." Highest level, once again. Big change for that foundation--over $1 million. I assume she's talkin' dollars, but what do I know.
     IVC: "presents fairly." Yadda yadda. A favorable growth -- $200k or so.
     ATEP: "presents fairly." Assets: $12K. Not lots of activity in this foundation.
     SOCCCD foundation. "Presents fairly." Assets: $7K. Negative $234K for the year.
     Didn't find material weaknesses, etc. Her company's audit/report is limited. Not an overall review of fiscal health, I guess.
     Lady thanks staff and management for cooperation, help.
     6.1, 6.2, 6.3 -- unanimous approval.

     Back to agenda: consent calendar. Anything to pull? 5.3 and 5.10 (Jemal). They vote: unanimous
     5.3: Jemal: FLS international-intensive English program. Something about a "license to use" agreement. Has basic questions about it.
     Student trustee: how different than ESL program? Blah blah.
     Unanimous approval.

     5.10: Info Technology Consultant Services. Jemal: doesn't this belong on the general items list, not the consent calendar? Bramucci speaks: I don't really know what he said, but he noted that we have lots of consultant contracts, blah blah blah. Jemal seems satisfied. Vote: unanimous.

General Action Items:

     6.4 - Saddleback College Student Equity Plan Report. (Good Lord.) Guy (Alvarez?) comes up, brings up his "team." Draft of plan. Due to state in Jan. Blah, blah, blah. Success plan, Equity plan, blah. Access, course completion, transfer, etc. Equity issues. Special populations underserved, I guess.
     A little surprising, the data, he says. (I.e., we didn't know there were these underrepresentation issues. I think he's indicating skepticism about some of this data and the implications that something is amiss.) Various categories of age seem to be a problem. Analysis tells you about the disproportionality, not the reason for it. We're using a multiplicity of strategies.
     Digging deeper into the issues. That's one thing we've got to do. Some outreach and targetting. Enhancement of services. E.g., ESL population--make available outside regular hours, addressing age groups. Professional Development opportunities. (This guy is making sense for once. He's still got a weakness for buzzwords and such, but an improvement.)
     Gender, ethnic categories, DSPS, low income. We looked at these. Then two more groups: foster youth and veterans. Access issues for vets. Next step for us: will continue to work on plan. Aligning with strategic plan items. Lots of alignment. Blah. Blah. Blah.
     Jemal: thanks for your presentation. Age an area of concern? A number of age brackets. "Major disproportionate impact." Why? Alvarez(?): we have some theories, but nothing "definitive." Blah blah blah. Discusses some weirdnesses in the data. [I think he's hinting at skepticism.] In general, our service population is older. But college people are younger. That means we will have proportion/representation issues re age. We need to look at these age groups. Is it that they don't need us? Or are we failing to meet their needs?
     Lang: So, this report is required by Board of Governors? To whom is it submitted? Due date? Dollars available for this? What hours do we put in to do this?
     A: new requirements. Part of student success initiative. Will be submitted with student success plan. The data are new. Report due Jan 1 to Chancellor's Office. Has to go through Board approval. We expect to do that. Our district received about $1 million dollars--divided into 2/3 and 1/3 between two colleges. [!] Saddleback has been at "full bore" with this plan. Much of the work by "team" is voluntary (i.e., unpaid). At least ten hours per committee member (says one member of the team). Lang: an annual report? Yes. So will not be as "labor intensive" in subsequent years.
     Vote: unanimous approval.

     6.5 Next: IVC Student Equity Report (final). Linda Fontanilla, VP, Student Services. Presented a draft last time. We had not yet received our "college allocation" when we spoke last time. Have received it now. Acknowledged her team. We started in March. Didn't have quite as many folks come forward--but those who did are very committed. Goes through list of The Committed: student rep, Kathy Schmeidler (Ac Senate Prez), Craig Hayward, Director, Planning/Research, Lisa Wang, Vince Cooper (Classified Senate Prez), Dennis Gordon, Maria Nunez, Candice, "the counselors," et al. Small group, but very committed "to the plan."
     We had our minds on "student success" throughout. We've got six areas of disproportionate impact. Added "foster youth and veterans" to list of target areas. Access, ESL completion, basic skills, certificate completion, transfer: that's what we're focusing on here, part of student success, blay blah. Older students: dis. impact. Why? Had conversations about that. Came up with similar conclusions to SC. Many of our students have said: they're in class to have conversation with the rest of their family. Parents sometimes show up for that. So, foten, they're not there to transfer or earn a certificate. [I think Schmeidler, too, was suggesting reason for skepticism about this "underrepresented" or "disproportionate" guff.] Will do more research. Will do outreach to students. Disproprotionate impact: African American students. We could not answer, says Fontanilla, whether these students were of African descent or African-Americans. We'll go out and see if we can differentiate. Disproportionate group: ages 25-29. Moving out of home. Not used to work schedule, etc. We've speculated, but will do outreach to find out what the problem is. African-American males and Hispanic: known disproporition issues.
      Craig Hayward steps up. I don't know this guy, but, suddenly, the verbiage wafting over the air sounds intelligent. Ironically, however, he's got nothin'; says he's just there to answer any questions. (Really? OK.)
     Lang: thanks for the report. I found the IVC report to be more reader friendly (graphics, color). (I hear a squeal. Then a snort.) One item: page 20. Error? Yes, minor error.
     Milchiker: thanks both groups for reports. Perhaps have student researchers work with you, she suggests. "Excellent suggestion," says Hayward.
     Team member Kathy Schmeidler insists on speaking: statistics about completion, etc. We are now requiring all students to have an academic plan. But we don't look at that plan when we measure success! That seems odd to me. [More sub-snarkian skepticism.] Shouldn't a student's completion of his own plan be counted in this data? She offered a resolution to that effect at State Academic Senate Plenary over the weekend. Some students don't really need the packages that we offer in terms of transfer/certificates. That can be "completion" too, but it isn't counted. As we'll go forward, we're likely to find these things.
     Vote: unanimous approval.

     Wright: moves to extend meeting to 9:30. (Ouch.) Unanimous if begrudging.

     6.6: something about air blown fiber. I've fallen asleep. Bramucci says something. They vote: unanimous.

     6.7: board policies for review and study. Fitzsimmons addresses: some changes to one of these. Some word-smithing in one case. Pulled. What's left: unanimous approval.

     6.8: 0.85 COLA. Unanimous.

     6.9 Academic personnel items. No changes. Vote: unanimous.

     6.10 Classified personnel items. Unanimous approval.


     7.1, 7.2, 7.3, 7.4, 7.5, 7.6 - no comments. I guess others are falling asleep too.
     Lang: whatever happened to report about Futuris.. something-or-other. Why not here? Fitz: will be here next time. Donchoo worry 'bout that.

Reports from governance groups.
     OK, I'm outa here.

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