The appointment of "Bobbie" Jay to the Board

Photo from Lariat
     Re yesterday's board action of appointing Barbara J. Jay to the SOCCCD Board of Trustees:
     I was unable to attend the special meeting (from 2 until 5:30) to interview candidates for Bill Jay’s replacement, but people who did attend have told me the following:

     Only four board members participated in the special meeting: TJ Prendergast (current Prez), Marcia Milchiker, Tim Jemal, and Jim Wright. Dave Lang was compelled to recuse himself because one of the candidates is a client of his accounting firm. Nancy Padberg is still recovering from her injury.
     Barbara “Bobbie” Jay has made it clear that she intends only to complete her husband’s term. She will not run for the office (about a year from now). (She made this point, for instance, during interviews with the FA.)
     Several candidates were interviewed, including a former administrator at OCC and Cal Nelson, a former Saddleback administrator, who, as far as I know, enjoys a good reputation.
     After the interviews, the board seemed somewhat divided about their top pics, but, at one point, TJ motioned to appoint Bobbie Jay.*
     Despite apparent disagreement about the top choice, in the end, the board voted unanimously to appoint Bobbie Jay.
     All deliberations were done in open, which (I’m told) muted some of the discussion and possibly hindered some opining. It was a "strange" meeting, I'm told. Trustees were visibly uncomfortable.
     Jay, I've been assured, is committed to finishing her husband’s job, which she views as including securing a favorable faculty contract.
     By all accounts, Bobbie Jay is a fine and intelligent person and, no doubt, she will make a fine trustee. (She started last night.)

Jim Wright, Bill Jay, Tim Jemal, TJ Prendergast, Nancy Padberg, 
David Lang, Marcia Milchiker
     This morning, the district released the following:
Dr. Barbara J. Jay appointed to SOCCCD Board of Trustees

April 28, 2015 – South Orange County Community College District (SOCCCD) has selected Dr. Barbara J. Jay to serve as a provisional (interim) trustee for area 3 representing Laguna Beach, Aliso Viejo, Dana Point and parts of Laguna Hills, Newport Beach, San Clemente and unincorporated areas until December 2, 2016. The board made a decision to provisionally appoint a trustee to fill the vacancy due to the passing of Trustee William O. Jay.

Dr. Jay brings a wealth of experience to the board, having owned, operated and managed a local business in south Orange County. She has a D.D.S. from the University of Southern California. Her top priority as a trustee is protect the educational quality at the colleges because she considers that to be the key to a better lives for the South Orange County Community College students.

Dr. Jay is the wife of the late Trustee William O. Jay of the South Orange County Community College District. Trustee William O. Jay was also a former administrator, dean and professor for Saddleback College. Both of their children attended and graduated from Saddleback College.
*The Lariat has a slightly different account: SOCCCD appoints Bobbie Jay provisional Trustee
After ranking their top candidates, SOCCCD Vice President Timothy Jemal made a motion to appoint candidate Bobbie Jay. The motion was seconded by board president T.J. Prendergast and resulted in a unanimous “yes” vote from President Predergast, VP Jemal, Trustee Marcia Milchiker and Trustee James Wright.

The April meeting of the SOCCCD Board of Trustees: Barbara replaces Bill, Jaywise PLUS: Lang makes a dang good point ('bout Nancy) & trustees come close to MEDDLING again (smoking ban: there will be uniformity across the district!)

We're back to seven trustees
See Board Meeting Highlights.
     It’s 6:27 and I’m a couple minutes early. The crowd is thin here in the Ronnie Reagan meeting room. That's odd.
     Aha! Two trustees (Lang & Prendergast) have entered, smiling. The Chancellor, too. The open session will start more or less on time, I guess.
     By now, the trustees must be all tuckered out, what with their special meeting, from 2:00 p.m. until 5:30, for replacing Bill Jay, and then their closed session, from 5:30 until 6:30. Four and a half hours of yackin’ and evaluatin’! That’s enough to puke a dog off’f a gut wagon. But, who knows? Maybe they’ll be all smiles, ‘cause they’ve appointed somebody for Jay's spot and they’re feeling good about it. Could be.
     I think the Faculty Association (union) will be here tonight in large numbers to keep the pressure on the board (public comments).
     There’ll be two reports tonight:
4.1 Saddleback College, Irvine Valley College: Service Area Conflicts between Colleges Report being presented as a result of the Trustee Listening Sessions held at the colleges on April 30, 2014. A presentation on the service area conflicts between the colleges will be provided by the college presidents.
     —This could be interesting. Tod and Glenn have been at war over this for years.
4.2 SOCCCD: BP 4011.1 Process for Hiring Faculty Report being presented as a result of the Trustee Listening Sessions held at the colleges on April 30, 2014. A presentation on the hiring and employment process for full-time faculty will be provided by the Vice Chancellor, Human Resources & Employer/Employee Relations.
    —This too could be interesting. You’ll recall that the current BP resulted from litigation. The Academic Senates sued the district over violation of a state statute according to which this policy is to be mutually agreed upon by the Senates and the district (board), but the board and chancellor had unilaterally changed the policy in favor of administrators and against faculty.

     6:32 - The room is filling up fast. Haven't seen Marcia Milchiker yet, but I do see Wright, Jemal, Prendergast, Lang, and the Chancellor. I'm guessing that Marcia is the only missing trustee.
     Student athletes in red (Saddleback) with "state champions" emblazoned on their shirts are lining the wall behind me and to the right.
     Uh-Oh. Barbara Jay is the new trustee! They've got to be kidding!
     Guess not.
     Up there on the dais/throne, they're giving Babs the secret handshake, etc.

     6:37 - they're reconvening:
     Actions in closed session: no report
     Invocation: Jemal mentions the earthquake tragedy--and the Armenian genocide anniversary. Moment of silence.
"Bobbie" Jay
     The Pledge.
     Prendergast: introduces new trustee (Barbara J. Jay). Applause.
     TJ also moves up the res for the Saddleback College Men's basketball team. Burnet comes up, yuks it up. Wright reads the resolution. Eleven tall fellows take it all in. "The mark of the great basketball team," yada yada. Roll call vote. Unanimous, natch. Burnett: record was 32 and 2. We're proud, etc. Almost a team GPA of 3.0! My God! Our coach is the state coach of the year as well. Big applause. Photo op. Much milling. Off they go, big smiles, wandering into their futures.
     6:45 - TJ comes up to the podium for eight more resolutions. Count 'em, eight! Blah blah blah. The student trustee gets a res. Lots of whereases. On it goes. "Representing more than 40,000 students." Roll call vote. Applause. Photo op. He gives a speech, thanking everyone, etc.
     Others recognized: classified employees (en masse, I guess, for "classified employees week"), Sanjay Gupta, Jack Appleman, Cecilia Kim, Karah Street, Bob Mathews, and Gerald Binder. The classified rep has an entertaining accent—Bostonian? On it goes, one by one. I guess people like this sort of thing. Street says she's happy to be a worker bee and she's going right back to her little corner of the hive. Mathews says he's speechless, but, clearly, he ain't. Makes a point of saying that we've got great leadership in the district. Applause. More photo ops. Binder: talks about his recent blood clot scare. Teaching felons. Teaching adults. "It's been a love affair for me." Keeping his marbles. Binder's got lots to say. Photo op. Kim finally shows up, speaks. Again, has lots to say. She feels really "thanks," she says. Teaches ESL, I guess. Applause. Photo op.
     Next, commendations. Good Lord. Congratulating our journal, The Wall. Burnett explains the journal's many honors. Natch, it is being honored for being honored. Seven or eight students line up, take it all in. "Award winning edition." Each student gets a round of applause and a certificate. (I'm in heck.) Introduces advisor as well. She thanks everybody. The Wall, she says, will keep climbing "higher and higher." Photo op. More applause. Burnett is still beaming. His face is gonna break. Off they go.
     Public comments: one. Claire C-S. "Due to the long hours, we've decided not to make public comments today." We'll be back with them next time.

Board reports:

      Dave Lang: congrats to new trustee, Bobbie ("Bobbe"?) Jay. Thanks student trustee for "excellent" job he has done. Evidently, he's going into the beancounter biz, like Dave. Participated in the listening sessions. Very valuable to me. Personal interaction is important, appreciated. Informs our decision-making.
     TJ Prendergast: ditto, but adds that he attended IVC Foundation Gala. "Yes indeed I did go for more money than the mayor of Irvine." Yuk yuk. (Some kind of beefcake auction, I guess.)
     Tim Jemal: Congrats to "Bobbie" Jay. Turns to Carillo: "don't become a CPA." Laughter. Excited about the state championship; holds up the shirt. Concurs with Lang on listening sessions. Not perfect. Some started faster than others (IVC session finally got going, last 2/3). We take all this input seriously, including board survey, mentioned previously. IVC Foundation gala: this far surpassed the last two galas "by a wide margin." Everyone should be very proud. Congrats to Dennis Gordon, Diane Oaks, C Orlando, et al.
     Jim Wright: Congrats to Bobbie. Warm words for Carrillo (student trustee). Much praise for IVC Foundation gala. "Well done." Men's basketball banquet. Wonderful evening. Student success summit. Listening sessions were wonderful. Well done. We appreciate the comments. Memorial service for Julie Bright. Wonderful faculty member. Celebrated her life, laughter. Thanks four students, Phi Beta Kappa team, etc.
     Marcia Milchiker: welcomes Bobbie Jay. We do good work at the two colleges. Was on Laguna Woods TV, talking about Emeritus, etc. Mentions various things she attended. Bonnie and Clyde musical. Listening sessions: well attended, learned a lot from them. Looking forward to commencements coming up in May. Looks forward to nurse-pinning, etc. Yeah.
     Bobbie Jay: attended the IVC Foundation gala. It was great, fun.
     Student turstee Carrillo: great IVC Foundation gala. Thanks for the invite. Yadda yadda. Advocating for students. Thanks Tere Fluegeman. Thanks Tod Burnett "for being my friend.

     7: 32 - Chancellor's report (Gary Poertner): wants to acknowledge the hard work faculty and classified do. Applause.
     Others: blah blah blah.
     Saddleback College Prez Tod Burnett: chirps forth the usual litany of good news factoids. Chirp chirp.
     Irvine Valley College Prez Glenn Roquemore: bromidular. Good luck to Carillo. Re Foundation dinner. The entire campus came out to "play a role." We went through "two bad years," and people stepped up. Tenured faculty reception, pleasurable. Our men's tennis team went to "state champ." Model UN: fourth consecutive something honor. Points out Kurt Meyer.

First report tonight:

4.1 Saddleback College, Irvine Valley College: Service Area Conflicts between Colleges Report being presented as a result of the Trustee Listening Sessions held at the colleges on April 30, 2014. A presentation on the service area conflicts between the colleges will be provided by the college presidents.

     Roquemore: group formed, "worked through this." Identifies members (most of whom are standing with him), including Carol Hilton, Juan Avalos, Kathy Werle, Linda F, et al.
     Burnett: refers to Listening Session last year. This was mentioned. We sought to resolve the issue. A good outcome. "Wonderful collaboration" between IVC and Saddleback. Six VPs did great work. "Never been dealt with in this district." 1985: a "line was built"(?). Don't know how. Signed agreement today that will make things better.
     Carol H: Back in '85, service areas determined (El Toro Rd.). Resolution in 2012 reaffirmed those service areas. There were different interpretations. Nobody's fault, disagreements. We came together "in spirit of resolving this." We all explained our interpretations. We developed "operational definitions."
     Davit K: services, courses, and programs in two service areas. Exceptions: LB school district. Has to be done in a coordinated fashion. Other exception: El Toro High School, part of SVUSD. Sprawls across both service areas.
     Other concept: "right of first refusal." Two main scenarios: 1: college receives invitation from entity in other service area; first college offers opportunity to other college. If doesn't take it, college can go forward. 2: soliciting invitations. We agreed: we will not solicit in other college's service area.
     Linda F: outreach services. Much like what Davit said.... (This is too tedious for me. Linda F has a coma-inducing yammer.)
     Kathy W: Blah blah blah. (Sounded pretty good, I guess.) If one college gets solicitation/request, and they can't meet it, the other college will be informed, etc. Agreement timeframe provided. Not indefinite.
     Craig J: marketing. Students are not restricted in any way by service areas. Service areas are used for planning for colleges. This agreement goes a long way in promoting planning for marketing. A great step forward tonight.
     Glenn: any questions?
     Prendergast: in El Toro. Saddleback working on an early college program now? Well, says Burnett, the two programs are very different. Prendergast: what about athletics? Yadda yadda. Prendergast seems satisfied by whatever it is that B said.
     Jemal: does this finally put to rest the El Toro dividing line issue? Glenn: ancillary benefits of this process have been fantastic. VPs working with consultant: lots of collaboration. Huge step forward in having an understanding. The answer is "yes." We can revisit this in a year. We might make changes. Yes, El Toro Rd. is still the line of demarcation. It's not a Berlin Wall. It creates dialogue. Jemal: fantastic that there's an agreement. We've had some dialogue recently about another college district [poaching] in our area. How does that fit in here? Glenn: those colleges are violating ed code. Anytime I hear of this, I send ed code to the college president in question. Examples of poaching by other college districts very rare. Our service areas per district are legally defined. Not allowed to poach (nobody used that word, but that's what they're talkin' about).
     No one else wants to ask questions. Next:

4.2 SOCCCD: BP 4011.1 Process for Hiring Faculty Report being presented as a result of the Trustee Listening Sessions held at the colleges on April 30, 2014. A presentation on the hiring and employment process for full-time faculty will be provided by the Vice Chancellor, Human Resources & Employer/Employee Relations.

     8:03 - Bugay moves to podium. The policy was first approved in 2005. Very detailed. We wanted to make revised policy easier to deal with, allow more flexibility. Board has ultimate hiring authority. Etc. Goes through details of how hiring lists are created. Discusses minimum qualifications. All faculty positions must be posted state wide. Intense advertising provided by district. Ideally posted by first week in December. Catching applicants prior to job fair, etc. Lists standard places ads are posted.
     Each year, go to two major job fairs. Posted in registry: 1,900,000 hits (this time around?)
     Search committee: 2/3 faculty, etc. Screening process. Discipline experts screen for minimum quals. Orientation meeting. Interview questions developed. Special testing for applicants common: teaching demo, writing sample, etc. We try to make it content-oriented.
     Scoring completed by each committee member. Chair does not see numbers, etc. EEO rep monitors all committee discussions for "job relatedness." Committee sees final average scores. Committee recommends three finalists. Occasionally, they can't come up with three. Two might be put forward. Three references; reference checks. College President provided unranked list of finalists. Questions approved. President interviews candidate with one VP (can also invite the committee chair). Pilot program: having a third party check references.
     Any questions? Bugay asks Kathy Schmeidler (IVC Senate Prez) for input. "She seems to be at a loss for words." Schmeidler: "I have words." Laughter. Academic Senate is satisfied with revisions. Not perfect, but vast improvement over what we have had. We've loosened up the process. This has been stagnating for too long. Good to revisit, revise.
     Jemal: wants to know how academic senates feel about recommended changes. Supported by both senates. Are there any stake holder groups who dissent? Any group missing who might say something contrary? Bugay: it's really a faculty issue. When you see revised policy, it will be much shorter, much more flexibility. Bugay speaks about issue of getting out these searches early: meeting deadlines is critical.
     Lang: Board approval of listed positions for two years. Presently, there is no limit, says Bugay. We need to have a way to stop the process; time over. Bugay: we had 20 positions go out. One committee found an unimpressive pool. Wanted to go out again. Sometimes you get a small pool and want to go out again. Two years is a window in which we can do good recruitment. Lang: option to invite the chair of the committee. Why wouldn't you want the chair participate? Bugay: the chair is at the first level. Bugay turns to presidents. Glenn R: faculty involved in first level. When it gets to 2nd level interview, different questions. Where candidates may take the college in future? We rank the candidates, then bring the chair in. The chair can bring discipline experts.
     Kathy S: old language was very restricted. Didn't permit Pres to invite anyone but VP. Now, practices did change, informally, but the new AR is clear: more permissive; says it's OK. Not permitted before, and now it is permitted. Kathy S: sometimes the impression of committee and 2nd level interviews are very different. Better if chair was at both levels. Kathy S: first committee hesitant to put up anyone they can't live with. Roquemore asserts much agreement between first and second level in recent years. Wright: I'm glad revised policy is not so rigid. Important to check out references. Sometimes references are very old. Not good. Wright reports, too, that he (as committee chair) was invited by Pres Burnett to discuss his impressions after second level interviews. Bugay: avarage tenure of faculty: 21 years. So faculty have a vested interest in this. Have to work with person for decades. Having a good policy is critical.

     Consent calendar. Anything to pull? 5.1, 5.7.
     Vote on the rest: unanimous.
     5.1: minor correction (Wright).
     Vote: unanimous
     5.7: Lang: approval of speakers. Honorariums. No consistent policy, how much paid. Possible streamlining of the process contemplated by Fizsimmons, etc. Jemal: I've asked the same question. Good thing to look at. Need a policy? (So that issue will come back.)
      Vote: unanimous.

     8:28 - General action items.
     6.1 - unanimous
     6.2 - unanimous
     6.3 - Science building project. Change order. Vote: unanimous
     6.4 - Lang: listening sessions. Colleges feeling they're somewhat ignored perhaps (technology needs). Their needs at college level not met. Not having full input in technology budget that is coming forward. Perhaps we need a report about this. Bramucci explains that there's been a process, colleges have had opportunities to vet the budget, projects, etc. Vote for approval: unanimous
     6.5 - ATEP. First building project. Jemal: money reallocated from branding? What's that mean? Fitz explains. They're using "branding" in an unusual way, not marketing. Brandye Delena comes up to explain "branding." I didn't get what she said and neither did Jemal. Fitz tries again, but it's a no go again. Prendergast: tries to make sense of it. The conversation seems to shed little light on what manner of "branding" is involved here. With some reluctance, they vote: unanimous
     6.6 - computer equipment. They vote: unanimous.
     6.7 - contract with Neudesic. They vote: unanimous.
     6.8 - ATEP land exchange demo project, change order. They vote: unanimous
     6.9 - BPs for review and study. There's a minor correction. Obligation owed to the district. Fitz reads changed paragraph. Lang: move for review and study. Wright: policy for grade grievance. Doing away with BP. Administrative Reg instead: made available to students? Yes. Jemal: will forward a couple of comments, not presented now. Lang: BP re vacancies on the board. Those who participated today (Lang didn't?): is this policy OK? Please think about that. Prendergast: the BP just copies the Ed Code. Vote: unanimous

     6.10 - IVC smoke free district. New fine of $38. Jemal: a new fine. Do we have authority to impose and collect this fine? Fitz: yes. Refers to earlier discussed policy that allows for this. IVC has decided to go with a fine. Jemal: not supportive of difference between two colleges on this matter. Will therefore vote against this. Wright: Saddleback has no fine. We should do the same thing at both colleges. Also: perhaps we can lower the fine? Milchiker: I'm not ready to approve it tonight. How was this decided at IVC? Why same amount as parking ticket? Roquemore: I walked up to a student who was a smoker. Spoke with him about it. OK with policy, but he said put some teeth in it. What we propose here is a very soft process, a learning process. Offenders are first handed materials. Students will have access to ways to quit smoking. A very "academic" process, many steps. It does have teeth in the end. Otherwise, can't enforce it.
     Asks Chief Glenn to come up to discuss. He comes up: Glenn: willful and persistent violators will receive the ticket. Otherwise, can't insure smoke-free campus. I don't want to issue citations, but we'll rarely do so. But if we encounter someone who simply refuses to follow policy, we need to have something in place. Milchiker: I'm still uncomfortable with this. I want to hear more. Hate the idea of issuing smoking tickets. I need to think this through. Chief Glenn: I don't want to be the smoking police. But if we have a policy, we need a way to enforce it. Prendergast: says his wife took test at IVC recently and she was appalled by the smoke and the smokers. If we need to put teeth in, I'll vote for this, he says.
     Kathy S (senate prez): this went through extensive review at both colleges. Went through all the governance groups. The final policies (per college?) had universal support across the district (including variation of two colleges). IVC has discussed this at length. A very soft policy: many warning given before ticket issued. Only in case of repeat offense. This is all part of our internal policy, enforcement. This has gone through all of the governance groups, all the committees. It is your right, of course, to say we shouldn't do it. But in terms of what our college wants: this is what it wants. Thank you.
     Prendergast: I don't think this every came up for review and study. So why don't we amend this so that it's only review and study. The board seems in agreement.
     Lang: very much in favor of this regulation. Will support. OK to delay by one meeting. Greatly troubled by fact that no similar regulation is pursued at Saddleback College. Smokers are affecting others. We're doing this for all the right reasons. Fully support it. Claire: it's not a smoke-free college yet. (We haven't seen the impact of the policy yet.)
     Student Trustee Carillo: "you guys" should study this. Will impact student greatly. A very sticky situation. Students somewhat polarized. Students have "natural rights." It's hard for a smoker to listen to authority. It's a habit. Giving them knowledge is good. Yes, a fine will motivate, but.... You should really talk about this.
     Prendergast: vote: unanimous. (for review and study)

     Jemal: extend meeting to 9:30. Vote: unanimous.
     Lang wants answer to his question (to Burnett). Burnett: It went through our process. Came up with: do not impose a fine. 37 community colleges have smoke-free, but only 11 have fines. Don't want our police to be smoking ticket-givers. We have not implemented our policy yet, so we don't know how student will respond (without the teeth of citations).
     Once again, the board comes perilously close to meddling, of ignoring processes at the colleges.

     6.11 - IVC reorganization. Lang: why so many band-aid solutions to situation? Or is this a permanent solution? Glenn R: this is driven by a vacancy. We have an opportuity to think of "synergism" of moving areas together. The arts: intensive performance program. Huge. We need an administrator focusing on that. Modeled after other colleges that have done it this way. Won't be the last change. We're growing. We're low on dean support compared to other colleges. We're constantly thinking about how to do things better. Wright: how many will new dean supervise? School of Business Sciences small. In business, 13 full time and numerous part-time. No full time in Emeritus. Jemal: Chancellor's opinion? Poertner: this has been waiting a year and a half. It makes sense to me. I support this change.
     No more requests to speak. Vote: unanimous.

     6.12 - paying absent trustees. They always vote for this. Unanimous. And yet:
     Lang: very sympathetic to Nancy Padberg's situation (she is ailing after an injury many months ago). But I'm looking for guidance from HR. Is this the way we would treat any other employee in the district under similar circumstances? Bugay: employees have certain rights: sick days, etc. Trustee situation different. .....
     Lang: its left to us to self-police. We need to hold ourselves to a certain standard. I'm interested to understand best practices in terms of this situation. Bugay: its up to the supervisor. You are the supervisors "of everything here." 
      Poertner: we faced this a couple of years ago with trustee Fuentes. He missed a lot of meetings over a couple of years. I had conversations with legal counsel. How long should we let trustees be absent? Legal response: these are elected officials. Don't remove them easily. Takes a long time. Difficult to do. Could be done. I don't expect Nancy Padberg's situation to last much longer.
     Vote: unanimous

     6.13 - vote: unanimous.
     6.14 - Academic personnel actions. Lang: Retirement of Priscilla Ross. Wants to extend to her my thanks for her many years of service. Vote: unanimous.
     6.15 - Classified personnel actions. Vote: unanimous.
     6.16 - Classified employee layoff. Wright: this was brought up, trustee listening session. Changing from 20 hours week to 40 hours week [vice versa?]. Many expressed concerns. Marcia concurs, was brought up. Why moved from 40 to 20? Bugay: change at ATEP. No need of 40 hours.
     Burnett: not enough work for a webmaster (for ATEP). In the old days, the webmaster did everything. No longer. Industry has changed dramatically. Carol Hilton concurs with Burnett. Website and marketing. Yes, he's right. Vote: unanimous.
     6.17 - Public hearing CSEA - initial proposal from CSEA. Bugay is here to answer questions. Prendergast: now open. Public comments? No. Public hearing is now closed. Further discussion? No. Concluded.

7.0 Reports.

7.1 - Professors of the year.
7.2 - speakers
7.8 - Quarterly Financial Status Report: Lang had a question. Why projections so far off? Blah blah blah

This is closin' down fast. I'm outa here.

Corinthian Colleges closing - also Everest, WyoTech and Heald

You can say that again
The L.A. Times reports:

Corinthian closing its last schools; 10,000 California students displaced

excerpt: "The loans were both the lifeblood and the downfall of the troubled Orange County company. Easy access to student debt fueled high tuition and big profits — until the federal government cut off the tap last year, as investigators accused Corinthian of falsifying job placement rates. Many students, attracted by the promise of higher-paying work, now find themselves with heavy debts for degrees of dubious worth. Many others won't graduate at all."

How I Got Converted to G.M.O. Food (New York Times, Opinion)
By MARK LYNAS ~ APRIL 24, 2015
     …I, too, was once in that activist camp. A lifelong environmentalist, I opposed genetically modified foods in the past. Fifteen years ago, I even participated in vandalizing field trials in Britain. Then I changed my mind.
     After writing two books on the science of climate change, I decided I could no longer continue taking a pro-science position on global warming and an anti-science position on G.M.O.s.
     There is an equivalent level of scientific consensus on both issues, I realized, that climate change is real and genetically modified foods are safe. I could not defend the expert consensus on one issue while opposing it on the other.
. . .
     The environmental movement’s war against genetic engineering has led to a deepening rift with the scientific community. A recent survey by the Pew Research Center and the American Association for the Advancement of Science showed a greater gap between scientists and the public on G.M.O.s than on any other scientific controversy: While 88 percent of association scientists agreed it was safe to eat genetically modified foods, only 37 percent of the public did — a gap in perceptions of 51 points. (The gap on climate change was 37 points; on childhood vaccinations, 18 points.)
Chipotle scraps GMO ingredients but cattle 'could be fed GMO feed,' chain says (OC Reg)

Favourite thing on the Internet.
Posted by Swiss Lips on Sunday, March 29, 2015
          "When the Kitty Breaks"

On education reform

     My favorite recent book on K-12 education (reform) is Amanda Ripley’s The Smartest Kids in the World (and how they got that way) (2013), which emphasizes new and impressive data comparing the success of students in school systems around the world. I recommend it very highly.
     Here are some themes in that work (based on my notes).
• In countries in which education is more successful, there exists a consensus that education is a priority and that virtually all students can succeed in meeting standards, which are set high.
• In successful countries, education is regarded as serious, even vital. Hence, it is assumed that only the best should be chosen for teaching, and they should be well compensated and respected. (E.g., Finland. Very unlike the U.S.)
• Americans are hesitant about raising standards in schools, fearing this will hurt students. But kids around the world handle high standards well.
• Rigor is crucial and there is no rigor without failure. Kids need to learn to be resilient and to persevere. With regard to academic success, diligence is more important than anything. (To work, praise has to be specific and authentic and rare—not handed out like candy.)
• Drive is very important, the drive to succeed.
• We should ignore shiny objects: new technologies (interactive whiteboards, iPads), a focus on small class size, trendy theories (“self esteem,” “whole words”). Successful countries eschew such things in favor of applying high standards and expecting all students to succeed. In these countries, the teaching profession is very selective and teachers are well paid and respected. In the U.S., standards at teaching colleges are very low and the teaching profession is far from prestigious.
• Researchers have identified four parenting styles re childrens’ education: authoritarian, permissive, neglectful, and “authoritative.” Authoritative parents seem to be the most successful; they get their kids reading early, and they expect them to work hard on their studies, but, gradually, they back off and foster their children’s autonomy.
Successful countries do not embrace “local control,” the American model, because it is inefficient and thwarts sensible and coherent education policy.
In successful countries, sports are not considered part of education. Sports are a huge distraction in U.S. education, and they benefit few.
• Successful countries typically spend far less per student than does the U.S. Increased spending will do no good unless it is on the right things. Some poor countries (e.g., Poland) do a good job teaching their kids. Resources should be directed, not on new equipment or more teachers, but on better teaching, higher teacher salaries, and adopting high standards.
• The data suggest that “diversity” of the population (ethnic and otherwise) need not hinder reform/improvement (consider the case of Singapore, which does a good job despite considerable ethnic/language diversity).
• Many Americans embrace a groundless fatalism concerning student success and failure, as though many students simply don’t have the talent to succeed in, say, math. Successful countries demonstrate that virtually every child can learn, as they do, under the right circumstances, even in the U.S.
Successful countries delay “tracking” students (i.e., separating children and placing them permanently on different tracks). In the U.S., tracking begins very early. E.g., the AP or "gifted" track. In subtle ways, U.S. students are indeed tracked. (For reasons not fully understood, the data clearly suggests that students at all levels benefit from a system that keeps kids together and on the same track. Successful countries create support systems for students who fall behind, but those students are returned to their original cohort asap; no one stays permanently in the special support system. See Singapore.)
• The U.S. should abandon its “backward math”—putting money where it is least needed (successful schools, students). Money should be directed to where it is most needed (low performing schools, etc.).
High school should end with a test (and standards should not be dumbed down)—so that high school graduation becomes meaningful (in Finland, 95% of students pass the test).

Schleicher: a scientist
gathering data
In Focus with Andreas Schleicher: Lessons for the U.S.
     Warning: Schleicher refers to “student learning outcomes,” but he is using the term broadly to include such outcomes as high scores in traditional (and, I suppose, PISA-style) testing. The Outcomes Based Education approach (on improving learning) that our Accreditor embraces focuses on discrete SLOs per course, essentially, a peculiar step prior to testing. The kind of criticism of OBE I have offered here on DtB does not object to standardized tests. Successful countries do rely on a few, well-written standardized tests, such as the test typically given at the end of high school (in Europe), which students must pass in order to graduate.

Replacing Bill Jay

     The regular meeting (closed session then open session) will start later in the afternoon.
     There are eight applicants for the office.
     I was at the last such meeting. These things can be pretty interesting. Bring popcorn.

Listen! & "Let us now praise infamous men"

Tim Jemal
     Went to the trustee “listening session” today at Irvine Valley College. It was held in the Café, that silly space at the north end of the library.
     Four trustees were in attendance: Marcia Milchiker, Dave Lang, Tim Jemal, and Jim Wright. No one—including Chancellor Gary Poertner—accompanied them. Part of the idea of the session, of course, is to ban managers and administrators from the session, “to encourage frankness,” as Lang explained.
     (Nancy Padberg and Bill Jay had really good reasons for not showing; Board President TJ Prendergast evidently couldn't attend because of his teaching duties at his high school.)
     The session started a few minutes after 3:00. Attendance was so-so. The first three rows of chairs remained empty (shyness), but most or all of the chairs circumscribing the room were taken, as were the chairs in back (I was smack dab in the middle, in an otherwise empty row). The middle of the seating area was sparsely occupied.
Marcia Milchiker
     The room stank (sorry) of coffee from the contraptions lined along one side of the room. There were cookies too. No punch.
     I didn’t count heads but it seemed to me that there were more classified employees than faculty in the room.
     Things got started. Tim Jemal took charge. He went over the rules: two minutes to a customer, but the trustees would accommodate anyone with something to say, even, I guess, if it took longer.
     A classified employee was the first to speak up. She carped about having to attend training sessions during lunch, thereby interfering with her lunch break.
     There was a feeling in the room (or so it seemed to me) that getting comments out of this crowd would be like pulling teeth.
Dave Lang
     Next came a complaint from a faculty member concerning the new manner in which repairs are made (or not made) on campus. Stuff breaks and it is no longer possible just to call a local vendor to fix the dang thing tout de suite. Gotta fill out forms three months in advance (I think that was the figure).
     Jim Wright asked questions, and it came to light that these absurd constraints are not in place down at Saddleback College. Blah, blah, blah. I think the instructor implied that VC Deb Fitzsimmons had imposed these new and absurd procedures, but that seemed to conflict with the fact, if it was a fact, that they have not been imposed down south. Whatever.
     Next comment? Silence.
Jim Wright
     At about that point, it occurred to me that my sitting in the middle of the room with pen and paper might discourage the desired loose lips. (I recalled abandoning a similar session a year ago for the same reason.) So I just grabbed a cookie and got out of there.
     It was maybe 3:15 or so.
     So, how did it go? Did things, um, pick up? Hope so.
     Let us know.
     UPDATE: a reader writes:
After you left all the seats filled and it was standing room only. It definitely picked up. There were a mix of faculty and classified staff feedback.
* * *
     About a week ago, the district put out an email “sadly” reporting the death of Armando “Muggins” Ruiz.
     According to the district release, Armando was a helluva guy: “Armando was known for his generosity and was respected by many as a model of unconditional love….”
     Gosh. I remember when similar things were said about Tom "Prince of Darkness" Fuentes when he passed.
     Predictably, IVC’s permanent president, Glenn Roquemore, chimed in:
“He was a very good friend and colleague. We served together as Vice Presidents for a few years. He was a talented professional and an excellent father and husband.”
     This sort of spin does no good. Decent people are pained by it, discouraged, demoralized. There are some admirable people among us. Often, they go unappreciated. Meanwhile, creeps are lionized and eulogized.
     So what's the problem with singing the praises of "Muggins" Ruiz? Well, Ruiz was a rat bastard. An unscrupulous jerk.
     Under the circumstances, the best thing to do is to say nothing.
     Instead, we were told that “Armando spent 40 years devoted to education….” What a public servant!
     The OC Register didn't see it that way. According to the Reg, "Politics is a selfless job; then there's Armando Ruiz…."
     Here in DtB, we often reported Ruiz’ misdeeds. About five years ago, we finally wrote:
     One of the minor characters in the epic “SOCCCD and the Neanderthals” saga is Armando "Beyondo" Ruiz, who, while counseling at Saddleback College, managed to get elected on the Coast Community College District board of trustees. That started back in the 80s, I believe.
     Ruiz is coarse, stupid, spectacularly incorrect (around women), and dishonest. Naturally, therefore, about a dozen years ago, in his desperation to gain allies [among faculty, only Glenn Roquemore showed up all greased up for the ol’ quid pro quo], then-IVC President Raghu Mathur cut a deal with Ruiz; he had "Boots" transferred from Saddleback College to Irvine Valley College for the purpose of grooming him for an administrative career, despite Boot Boy's manifest shititude.
     Not a problem.
     Soon, Ruiz was indeed an IVC administrator, eventually achieving his Mathur-contrived apex as the Vice President of Student Services. Besides Mathur, he was the least popular person at the college. [His role in the ruthless attempt to block the tenure of a Mathur critic didn't help.]
     That Ruiz was a creep wasn’t a problem for Mathur—after all, Mathur’s creepitude at least matches Ruiz’. That he kept f*cking up was slightly more bothersome. But the worst thing about Ruiz was his manifest disgruntlement, in 2002, when he wasn’t chosen to replace Mathur [loyal Mathurite Glenn Roquemore got the nod], who, natch, was awarded the district Chancellorship right after having sued the district. (He sued the district for not having protected him from my suing him in response to his suing me for reporting the truth about him—namely, that he had once violated a federal law protecting students' privacy rights.)
     So, after that, Ruiz bailed, i.e., he retired.
     That’s when he performed the sleazy maneuver upon which his wider infamy rests. Exploiting a loophole in the law, he resigned his trusteeship just days before getting reelected; he thus contrived to enjoy an enormous pension. (As Frank Mickadeit once explained: “He was taking advantage of a loophole that allows a person who exits two state jobs on the same day to count the highest-paying of the two as the salary for both jobs for the purpose of calculating his pension. …So, Ruiz "retired" ... as a part-time trustee of the Coast district and as a full-time counselor at Irvine Valley College. Even though the trustee gig pays just a $9,800 annual stipend, he was able to calculate his state pension as if he had been paid $106K a year for that "job'" plus the $106K a year he got for his real job at Irvine.")
     It was a spectacular flimflam, proving once again that stupidity and craftiness easily fit inside the Neanderthal’s ample cranium.
     A local journalist took up the cause of getting rid of the odious Ruiz. Eventually, Ruiz lost reelection in 2008.
The sad Armando Ruiz saga (OC Register; 11/4/04) -
Politics is a selfless job; then there's Armando Ruiz….
Rancho Santiago College Foundation Accused of Brown Act Violations in Saudi Arabia Deal (Navel Gazing)
…Last month, a dozen or so Rancho Santiago employees blasted the idea of the multi-million dollar consulting agreement--which provides the Saudi schools with a teacher training program, infrastructure upgrades and an updated curriculum--because of the Middle East country's stands on human rights, alternative lifestyles and Israel or Jews in general.
     But Chancellor Raul Rodriguez told the Board of Trustees that the deal does not amount to an endorsement of Saudi Arabia's human rights record by the district that oversees Santa Ana and Santiago Canyon colleges….

     Denizens of IVC received this "advisory" today from IVC Campus Police.
     It's the cops' response to recent thefts.
     Here's what they've got: slogans. Namely,
"If you see something, say something." 
"Take it, lock it, or hide it."
     That last one reminds me of the NHTSA's remarkable "Click it or ticket!" slogan, part of their ongoing "Mottos for Morons" campaign.
     Such is the advice offered by the campus gendarmes. I bet they studied their "Law Enforcement Handbook of Stupid Sayings" all morning to come up with that stuff.
     Gosh, that inspires me to come up with similarly helpful advice:
"Trouble with your lock? I be over with my Glock."     
"Bein' hectored? Get a German Shepherd!"      
"When we spot a jerk, we generally go berserk."      
"See a thief? Call the chief!"      
"Victim of an unsub? Well, we got self-protection clubs!"
          "When a student runs amok, we ride our armored truck!" 
          "Trouble in you class? We'll bring tear gas."

          "Always be prudent, frisk every student!

DISSENT! Contra anti-intellectualism

Kool-aid drinkers are often unaware of their complete and utter
pitcheresque Kool-aiditude. They become nasty enforcers of the sugary way.
     Sometimes, a student will ask me, “What’s the information we’ll have to know for the exam?”
     I really hate that word, “information.” It’s a small word for small things.
     The word has its place, I suppose. Perhaps you need a phone number. You call "information." Yeah.
     What students learn in a college classroom is not information. To have some notion of the fate of, say, teleology in Western history is anything but “info”! Neither is a grasp of the relevance of Locke’s liberal political ideas to, say, contemporary American politics. Information is small and ridiculous, but these things are rich and sprawling, like sagas and symphonies.
     But there are those who would reduce education to information bits and bytes.

The inevitable forces of anti-intellectualism
Phyllis Schlafly
     The enemies of reason have a way of destroying the good slowly—incrementally and by degrees. Thus it is with education in America. It is endlessly under assault by the forces of anti-intellectualism: all those under-educated educationists, with their useless Ed.D. degrees, who have no conception of logic or evidence; and the business crowd with their notions of widgets and customers; —and the political crowd, especially on the right, who, unlike the others, actually wear their contempt for knowledge and learning on their sleeves.*
     I was trained as a philosopher, and, in any case, I tend to distrust how things strike us at the moment, for we tend to be blind to big and "obvious" problems. It’s amazing how we do that, over and over. Though few seem willing to say it aloud, it is big and obvious that the kind of lousy thinking that has long characterized K-12 reform has invaded higher education. For California's community college instructors, the chief episode of insurgency took the form of new accreditation standards, adopted in 2002, that assume that all educational goals (including what students learn in a particular course) can be captured in “measurable student learning outcomes” (SLOs).
     They can’t.
     At any rate, when the “outcomes” approach (to reviewing and improving education) was adopted by the ACCJC, the new standards were imposed sans evidential backing for the superiority of that approach. The State Academic Senate requested that such evidence be provided. The ACCJC provided nothing, since there was nothing to provide.
     And so, naturally, the “reform” went forward anyway. We’ve been banging our heads against walls and creating dubious “SLOs” ever since. It’s been, and it continues to be, a colossal waste of time and money. Imagine what we could be doing instead?
     I’m sick of it.

One more time
     I’ve been told that, by now, the appropriate studies have been conducted: meta-analytical investigations of comparisons between the “outcomes” approaches and more traditional approaches. And, unsurprisingly, the news is bad for the Kool-aid saturated “outcomes” crowd (not that they'll notice or care). So, once again, a shiny new idea has fogged our minds and busied the world and produced a spirit-sucking fiasco. And, hey, the fiasco continues!
     Here we stand: the strong case against the “outcomes” approach is even better today than in 2002, when the ACCJC rammed “outcomes” down everybody’s throats, amid howls of protest and demands for justification, ignored.
The ACCJC's Babs Beno
     Recently, I instigated and then helped write** a proposed resolution about all this, presented at the recent State Senate Plenary in San Francisco. Essentially, it demanded that the ACCJC provide evidence that its “outcomes” approach is superior to alternatives. Again, the State Senate had essentially done that back in 2002, in a series of resolutions.
     Despite early indications of support for the resolution, it was eventually voted down.
     I’m told that the resolution’s defeat may reflect, not rejection of the basic idea, but of details it contained, including its account of the state of the evidence re the efficacy of the “outcomes” approach. And so IVC’s Academic Senate is proceeding to compose a revised resolution.
     I’m glad. But even if we manage to get the new resolution adopted at the State Senate, it is unlikely that the move will do better this time than it did a dozen years ago. (Who knows.)
     But we’ve got to do something. Maybe we can generate interest in setting things aright.

Better to go along with OBE folly?
     Or no? At such times, there are those who will argue that dissent is pointless, that it is better simply to make the best of a bad situation. Despite the utter wrongheadedness and inefficiency of busying ourselves with the composition of endless silly SLOs, we need to find a way to make the goshdarn effort useful somehow.
     That’s not for me. I can’t help but think about the big picture. I don’t want to look back at this time, twenty years from now, and know that, when the enemies of reason showed up, we laid down our arms, saluted Babs Beno, and joined the march to mediocrity and ruin.

*At first, far right critics of education embraced Outcomes Based Education—probably because they liked the idea of demanding "outcomes." But then they got the notion that it was a cover for all sorts of dastardly worldly and New Age instruction. So they became its enemy.

**Well, I hastily wrote something, which was quickly and faithfully adapted by Senate officers to the resolution format. I take responsibility for any deficits of the resulting verbiage.

Widget production efficiency experts

Interesting articles about the ACCJC’s President, Babs Beno:

• ACCJC prez admits City College got unfair treatment (48 Hills, OCTOBER 28, 2014)

• The elusive Barbara Beno: The story of the person who is behind the move to shut down City College (48 Hills, DECEMBER 18, 2014)
Why We Let Prison Rape Go On (New York Times, opinion pages)
     IT’S been called “America’s most ‘open’ secret”: According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, around 80,000 women and men a year are sexually abused in American correctional facilities. That number is almost certainly subject to underreporting, through shame or a victim’s fear of retaliation. Overall, only 35 percent of rapes and sexual assaults were reported to the police in 2010, and the rate of reporting in prisons is undoubtedly lower still.
     To tackle the problem, Congress passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act, signed into law by President George W. Bush in 2003. The way to eliminate sexual assault, lawmakers determined, was to make Department of Justice funding for correctional facilities conditional on states’ adoption of zero-tolerance policies toward sexual abuse of inmates.
. . .
     But only two states — New Hampshire and New Jersey — have fully complied with the act. Forty-seven states and territories have promised that they will do so. Using Justice Department data, the American Civil Liberties Union estimated that from 2003 to 2012, when the law’s standards were finalized, nearly two million inmates were sexually assaulted.
     Six Republican governors have neglected or refused to comply, complaining of cost and other factors....
. . .
     According to Allen Beck, senior statistical adviser at the Bureau of Justice Statistics, “institutional culture and facility leadership may be key factors in determining the level of victimization.” Rape persists, in other words, because it’s the cultural wallpaper of American correctional facilities. We preserve the abuse because we’re down with perps getting punished in the worst ways….

From IVC to Ivy League

Good news this morning from the Department of Memorable Students:

Some will remember Sara Ivette Merced. She graduated with distinction from IVC a couple years ago. She transferred (with a full scholarship) to USC to pursue her bachelor's in Psychology with a minor in forensics and criminality.  She graduates this Spring.

Sara was one of our older students, a single mother who returned to school in her early 40s after raising her two children. She was a distinctive presence in Rebel Girl's Writing 1 class for many reasons. Sara's strong sense of social justice was rooted in her pride as a Puerto Rican-American. Her deep joy in scholarship and her intellectual curiosity were inspiring in the classroom and on the page. 

This morning Sara accepted an offer from Columbia (with a most generous scholarship) to study in a Master's program in clinical psychology with a specialty in psychopathology. Her career goal is to work at-risk urban youth.

Columbia! Scholarship! A master's degree!

Footnote: Sara's two daughters, Lauren Winder and Elise Merced, attended IVC as well. Lauren came to IVC before Sara and transferred to and graduated from Berkeley. She now works as an editor.


Here's a link to Rebel Girl's write up of Sara's daughter Lauren, during the days of Occupy at Berkeley:
Occupy Cal: a former IVC Student Reports from Sproul

25% of college adjunct faculty get government assistance (Marketwatch)

     A quarter of the growing number of part-timers who are teaching college students need some government help to get by, according to a study from the University of California Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education.
. . .
     “It’s shocking, but it’s the reality,” said Carol Zabin, research director at the Center for Labor Research and Education. “Universities are depending much more on part-time and adjunct faculty.”….

IVC Foundation event

     So far, by all accounts, the word is that the IVC Foundation event on Saturday was a big success. Several who attended told me that it was the best such event they had been to in years.
     More later. Rebel Girl attended, and she'll have a fuller report.

Systematic rational failures and SLOs, part III: why don’t we do something?

     Outcomes assessment is an odd business. It is not to the credit of higher education that we have tolerated this external assault on our work. Its origins are suspect, its justifications abjure the science we would ordinarily require, it demands enormous efforts for very little payoff, it renounces wisdom, it requires yielding to misunderstandings, and it displaces and distracts us from more urgent tasks, like the teaching and learning it would allegedly help.
—John W. Powell
     The core alleged insight of the “outcomes” philosophy goes like this. Traditionally, our schools and their functioning have been viewed in relation to “inputs”: money, equipment, training, increased instruction hours, and so on. We invest all of these things in our educational system, and then we expect it to produce educated students.
     That’s all wrong, say the proponents of “outcomes.” We need to focus instead on the desired output—for instance, the kinds of skills and knowledge we want our kids to have at the end of their schooling—and then work backwards from there. It’s just logical! How do we get from where we are, point A, to where we want to end up, point B? That’s the $64,000 question. So our emphasis should be first on “outcomes,” which should be measurable, and second on how to achieve them.
     (For a sympathetic overview of the "outcomes" philosophy, see here. For a very different overview that emphasizes the politics, see here.)

     WAIT A MINUTE. Observe, however, that it is not obvious that this approach is workable. (In fact, states and nations who have embraced OBE have tended to find it unworkable and have tended to abandoned it.) Can one step back from, say, my “Introduction to Philosophy” course and capture “that which I intend to teach my students” in a set of sentences of the form, “upon taking this course, a student will be able to...”? Among thoughtful and intelligent people, the notion will arise that this task will be difficult. Perhaps impossible.
     When I step back from my Intro course and ask about the intended “takeaways” for students, I gravitate toward such things as:
Rational confidence: I want students to begin to reject widely-held skepticism about the possibility of profitably thinking about and discussing/debating difficult (philosophical and other) issues. They need to begin to see that some ideas are more defensible than others and that a community of good thinkers can make progress reasoning about and discussing issues (rejection of the notion that any idea is as good as another). 
Epistemological moderation: I want students to begin to settle into a middle area between skepticism (the notion that there is no point in thinking/arguing for the sake of maximally justifiable positions, for none exist) and dogmatism (the notion that the truth is had and that, therefore, it should not be questioned or challenged). 
The particularity of our conceptions/forms of life: that our conceptions and traditions are properly understood in relation to history and that there exist and have existed a multiplicity of intellectual/moral traditions in the world of which ours is one example (please note that this is not necessarily an expression of “relativism”*). 
• Etc.
     When I consider these and other intended “takeaways” for my students, I am doubtful of the prospect of successfully reducing or capturing them in a set of “measurable learning outcomes” that can be listed on the syllabus. Happily, I am inclined to think that students’ exposure to my course and various other courses, assuming some effort at balance, will tend to produce the above “outcomes,” among others, unmeasurable (through, at any rate, SLOs) though they might be.

     HOW TO IMPOVERISH TEACHING/LEARNING. It is true, of course, that, to some extent, takeaways from my Intro course are amenable to the “measurable outcomes” approach. But why would anyone assume that that subset represents what is most important in the course? Mightn’t one worry that that subset represents what is least important and that a focus on securing that subset would dumb down the course or rid it of intellectual depth or gravity?
     And further: why should it be assumed that the ability to reduce the “takeaways” of a course (or a course of study, including a degree) to a set of discrete and “measurable” learning outcomes is necessary? That this reduction (or essence-capture) is available would, I suppose, be desirable. But that such a thing is desirable does not in any way imply that it is available or necessary.
     It is no secret that we—our society, the Academy, et al.—have long debated the question, “What is a college education for?”. But does anyone suppose that the unavailability of some received view, some firmly held consensus, means that our college students generally fail to be educated? (Well, obviously, in fact, some of them do fail. But many do not.)

* * *
     FACTOIDS. Let’s be sensible. Toward that end, here are some factoids to consider:

     1. Near as I can tell, there is no scientific evidence (i.e., studies that do the appropriate comparisons between systems that embrace OBE and systems that do not) supporting the efficacy or unique efficacy of OBE. (Please see John W. Powell’s Outcomes Assessment: Conceptual and Other Problems.) To be sure, proponents of OBE are able to produce enormous piles of studies and the like in "support" of OBE. But these tend to consist of, not evidence that OBE (compared to anything else) works, but that someone somewhere has in fact implemented OBE. Such muddled thinking should not be surprising among "experts" who have never heard of the need for replicating study results.

     2. Given the recent emergence of such tests as the PISA, we are living in an era of improved data concerning the efficacy of education approaches. It is more possible than ever to compare nations with regard to the success of their educational efforts. Guess what? The most successful countries do not embrace OBE. They embrace more traditional approaches.

     3. It is no secret that our nation’s efforts at reform (in the nation’s system of elementary/secondary education) have been dismal. In fact, it has been characterized by (1) a gravitation to meretricious shiny objects (better equipment, smaller class size, educationist trends [whole language, self-esteem]) and (2) being repeatedly hijacked or undermined by political movements and interest groups. Despite spending enormous sums of money, our efforts have plainly failed. (And, no, the data do not suggest that poverty or diversity are insurmountable problems in establishing an effective school system. See what countries like Poland and Singapore have achieved, despite poverty or diversity.)

     4. Thanks to muddled national and state politics, accreditors have been pressured to adopt OBE, that once shiny object, even at the level of higher education. As a result, the accrediting agencies, including our own ACCJC, have indeed adopted OBE, and, consequently, colleges and universities across California continually dedicate vast monies and energies to writing SLOs (for programs, courses, etc.). In general, the “SLO” mandate is poorly received, especially by faculty. Consequently, institutions confront a choice between two options: (1) trying to make a bad system work, to the extent that that is possible (and it is typically judged to be not very possible), or (2) bad faith implementation—i.e., simply giving our benighted accreditors what they want and then, to the extent possible, ignoring SLOs. In fact, the most common response to the SLOs mandate is a mix of (1) and (2). (Some will dispute this. Some believe that the Earth is flat.) If so, our system is wasting vast amounts of energy and money on an approach that is very substantially inferior to previous approaches. Nice going, America.

     This is a fiasco, a disaster. Under the circumstances, it is very odd indeed that there isn’t more push-back.

* * *
     THE STATE SENATE. Community college “Academic Senates” represent faculty with regard to academic matters and are key players in so-called “shared governance” or “collegial consultation.” The Academic Senates of California’s community colleges long ago (1970) organized into the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC), commonly referred to as the “State Senate.”
     As you know (see recent post), thirteen years ago, the State Senate tried to push back against the accreditors (ACCJC), challenging them to justify abandonment of old standards and embrace of the new "measurable outcomes" standards. It was a rare moment of good sense and spunk.
     That got them nowhere.
     The State Senate had its big Spring meeting last week, from Thursday until Saturday.
     Saturday was reserved for “resolutions.” One of the resolutions that (as I understand it) was voted upon yesterday was #2.04 S15: “Justification of SLO Use.” Here it is:


Whereas, In the last 15 years, new attempts to track the success of school systems around the world (e.g., Program International Student Assessment) have achieved impressive bodies of data useful in measuring the effectiveness of education approaches; 
Whereas, These data indicate that the more successful countries do not embrace the notion of “measurable student learning outcomes” that are central to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges’ (ACCJC) existing standards for evaluating and reviewing institutions and the philosophy that emphasizes that tool; and 
Whereas, It continues to be the case that research fails clearly to establish that continuous monitoring of course-level student learning outcomes (SLOs) results in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution but does engender frustration that continues to characterize community colleges’ attempts to implement the SLO approach; 
Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges request no later than July 1, 2015 that ACCJC justify its continued implementation of SLOs and explain why it does not opt for approaches more consistent with the approaches of successful countries in educating their students.
     I don’t yet know the outcome of the vote. I'll get back atcha when I do.

P.S.: yesterday (4/13) I contacted someone who attended the Plenary and asked her what happened to our/my resolution. She wrote back, explaining that
     I’m still trying to figure it out (in terms of bigger picture): In Area D it was accepted, someone from another Area “improved” it by adding a due date; Area D left it on the consent calendar. People from Area D & other regions came up to me in the hall to praise it.
     And then, somehow, it failed at the vote. I didn’t understand the opposition. The arguments against it seemed to be small detail stuff....
     Pretty disappointing.

*That there are multiple "traditions" does not in itself imply that they are necessarily equal or incommensurable. Such notions, of course, are matters of controversy.

Next: professional development week!

Next week is "Professional Development Week," something I regard with utter cynicism and despair. At this point, I contemn anyone ...