Saturday, September 12, 2015

Faculty hiring at the SOCCCD

     I wanted to highlight a recent reader comment re faculty hiring at the California Community Colleges.
Bob Cosgrove said...
     Having taught FT at 3 universities before coming to Saddleback College, I was pleased to find community college students comparable to students I had encountered elsewhere. That was in 1981. That has changed. CC districts have grasped the 50% rule* with a tenacity that has harmed curriculum and program review, the work of making departments run efficiently, and stretched faculty by the increased demands place on faculty to serve on committees. Some 60 percent of our classes in some divisions are taught by ou[r] part time colleagues. When I came to Saddleback we had 32 full time faculty in the English Department with a student complement of about 20,000; we now have a student body in the upper 30,000s but only 18 FT faculty to serve them. Many of the thoughtful ideas to make Student Success work is seriously hobbled by the lack of Full Time faculty in our labs, counseling centers, libraries and classrooms. If part time work is so helpful to reducing college costs, we should move to have part time administrators to save money. Perhaps some of that money can be moved to where students are—in our classrooms and labs.
11:35 AM, September 12, 2015

     *The 50% law creates a floor for expenditures on “instruction.” According to that law, at least 50% of expenditures must be on instruction—including faculty salaries, etc.
     Bob is saying, I think, that the 50% law has in some districts turned into a ceiling instead of a floor, limiting the amount of full-time instruction. (The 50% law became a focus eight years ago under Chancellor Mathur’s watch; his failure to monitor this percentage compelled the district to hire 38 faculty at once! At the time, Bob asked why Mathur wasn't being held to account. See The 50% crisis: never mind what Mathur says. Look at the data!)
What Is the Point of College? (New York Times)

…Consider the declining proportion of fac­ulty with tenure. Tenured faculty are defined by more than the fact that they are hard to fire. Tenure allows professors to pursue intellectual projects without regard for what the trustees or the governor or the community care about. It gives them the kind of intellectual freedom that has helped make our universities the research powerhouses of the world. Adjunct faculty, on the other hand, are a lot less expensive — they’re paid less and typically lack health and other benefits — and you can easily expand or contract their ranks as demand fluctuates. In the Utility vision, students are consumers; they have needs and desires to be met, at a price they’ll pay. If pleasing the customer is the goal, a tenured faculty member who wants to teach what he or she considers worth teaching can be an inconvenience. Plus, at Utility U., one obvious way to better your ‘‘value proposition’’ is to cut costs. These days, three-quarters of the teaching faculty at America’s nonprofit colleges and universities are hired as adjuncts with no tenure and no research support. A few decades ago, only a quarter were….

Friday, September 11, 2015

This just in: "Community colleges gearing up for major hiring spree"

FILE: Professor David Thomas helps a student in a Fullerton College architecture class.LINDA BRINEY/COURTESY OF FULLERTON COLLEGE
via NPR:

Campuses across the state are speeding up the process to use $62.3 million in additional state funding in this year's budget to hire more faculty for the coming school year.
Gov. Jerry Brown's office estimates that California community colleges will hire 670 new professors with the funds.
“It’s a huge deal,” said Albert Roman, a vice-chancellor at the nine-campus Los Angeles Community College District. “It’s probably the largest number of full-time faculty positions that we’ve hired in the history of this district.”
This year and next, Roman said, the campuses in his district will hire242 faculty through new hires and replacement of retiring instructors.
Officials at East Los Angeles College, the campus with the most students in the L.A. district, said the hiring spree will transform the campus. The college expects to have 60 new full-time professors in place by fall 2016.
“We have an endless, bottomless pit of need in English and math,” said Academic Affairs Dean Kerrin McMahan.

To read the rest, click 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