Saturday, August 1, 2015

That old college stand-by, liberal arts, continues to founder in a more practical world (OC Reg, from the NYT)
[Interview with economist David W. Breneman:]
Excerpt:
Q. What does the trend away from liberal arts tell us about America?
A. I don’t think one should get melodramatic about this, but we are drifting toward turning college into a trade school. And that is ultimately harmful. The original ethos of education was that it prepared people for citizenship, for enlightened leadership, enhanced their creativity. There was a tradition going back to Jefferson, who founded the University of Virginia, that a liberal arts education was the core of our democracy. If we lose an educated populace, we’re open for demagogy. We need broadly educated people.
Q. In 1990, there were thought to be 600 liberal arts colleges. You looked at their curriculums and said there were really about 200. Three years ago, researchers counted 130. Where are things heading?
A. Most of the very fine liberal arts schools are going to survive. But some of them are verging more into professional fields. In 15 years, the number of liberal arts colleges might be down to 120 because of the pressure to add more practical offerings. And the closure of small private colleges that morphed out of liberal arts long ago is going to continue....

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Chandos: OC Politicos Squeeze Local Homeowners on Water But Save Developers (Ray Chandos, Voice of OC)

Excerpt:

     While these dire warning letters [about water conservation] go out the front door of water districts throughout Orange County, letters of a very different sort quietly slip out the back: “will serve” letters to developers, informing them that there is plenty of water for their projects.
     My water district, for example, will be serving 84 new houses (“Skyridge”) on El Toro Road, and 65 in a new gated tract (“Saddle Crest”) on Santiago Canyon. According to an environmental impact report for the latter, each of the 65 new houses—16 with swimming pools—will consume 2,216 gallons per day, equating to 34,456 glasses of water in the restaurant. Then there’s the “Esperanza Hills” tract near Yorba Linda, approved by county supervisors in June—340 houses, each averaging over 1,000 gallons per day.
     No problem, can do, said the Yorba Linda Water District, meanwhile telling existing customers to cut back 35%....

8-14: do you regret all the lying?

✅ Trump Encourages Racist Conspiracy Theory on Kamala Harris’s Eligibility to Be Vice President NYT ✅ Orange County Sees Overall Coronavirus...

Goals and Values and Twaddle

blather: long-winded talk with no real substance*
The whole concept of MSLOs [measurable student learning outcomes] as the latest fad in education is somewhat akin to the now discredited fad of the '90's, Total Quality Management, or TQM. Essentially, the ACCJC adopted MSLOs as the overarching basis for accrediting community colleges based on their faith in the theoretical treatises of a movement.... After repeated requests for research showing that such use of MSLOs is effective, none has been forthcoming from the ACCJC [accreditors]. Prior to large scale imposition of such a requirement at all institutions, research should be provided to establish that continuous monitoring of MSLOs has resulted in measurable improvements in student success at a given institution. No such research is forthcoming because there is none….
The Accountability Game…., Leon F. Marzillier (Academic Senate for California Community Colleges, October, 2002)
In the summer of ’13, I offered a critique of the awkward verbiage by which the district and colleges explain their values, goals, and objectives —aka SOCCCD'S G&V (goals and values) blather.
I wrote a post each for the district, Saddleback College, and Irvine Valley College efforts. (See the links below.)
This verbiage—stated in terms of “values,” “missions,” “goals,” “visions,” and whatnot—is often badly written. It is sometimes embarrassingly trite.
It occasionally communicates something worthwhile.
No doubt you are familiar with the usual objections to jargon. Higher education, too, has its jargon—an irony, given typical college-level instruction in writing, which urges jargon eschewery.
Sure enough, SOCCCD G&V blather is riddled with jargon and with terms misused and abused. For instance, in the case of the district’s dubious blather, the so-called “vision” is actually a purpose. Why didn't they just call it that?
As one slogs through this prattle, one finds that "visions" tend to be awfully similar to “missions,” with which they are distinguished. The latter in turn are awfully similar to “goals,” which must be distinguished from “objectives.” But aren't goals and objectives pretty much the same thing?
These perverse word games will surely perplex or annoy anyone armed with a command of the English language. In fact, readers will be perplexed to the degree that they are thus armed. Illiterates, of course, will be untroubled.
Here's a simple point: the district and colleges’ G&V blather tends to eschew good, plain English in favor of technical terms and trendy words and phrases (i.e., it tends to be bullshitty and vague). Thus, one encounters such trendy terminological turds as “dynamic,” “diversity,” “student success,” and “student-centered.” Even meretricious neologisms such as ISLOs and “persistence rates” pop up, unexplained, undefended.
Does anyone see a transparency problem with all of this? Shouldn't the public, or at least the well educated public, be able to comprehend statements of the colleges' goals and values?
In the case of the district, to its credit, all it really seems to want to say is that it wants to teach well and it wants students to succeed. Admirable!
So why all the ugly, common-sense defying, buzzword-encrusted claptrap?

Districtular poppycock: our “vision” and our “mission” and our tolerance of twaddle - July 31, 2013

THEY BUZZ: Saddleback College's "Mission, Vision, and Values" - August 4, 2013

IVC’s vision, mission, and goals: nonsense on stilts - August 5, 2013

THE IRVINE VALLEY CHRONICLES: no ideas, just clichés & buzzwords - Sep 30, 2013

*From my Apple laptop's dictionary