Friday, December 14, 2018

What We Know

Cessa at this year's IVC's Foundation dinner where she received an award for excellence,
flanked by Glenn and Betty Jo Woolett. 
Earlier this evening Rebel Girl was troubled by this anonymous comment on the blog: Word is going around that Anissa Cessa Heard-Johnson, Director of Student Life and Equity was dismissed today. Anyone have any insight on this?

A quick investigation revealed that something had indeed occurred today though the details are scant and murky. (It's Friday night, after all.)

What we know at this point: Cessa was put on administrative leave due to a Title IX complaint.  

That's it for now. You may know more than we do. 

UPDATE: The leave was NOT triggered by a Title IX complaint which is what we had been told by a reliable source who was told by a source presumed to be reliable but, apparently, is not. Hmmmm. Why would someone deliberately mislead someone else like that? 


Wednesday, December 12, 2018


Students Evaluating Teachers Doesn’t Just Hurt Teachers. It Hurts Students
(Chronicle of Higher Ed)
     Research on student evaluations of teaching suggests that the gender and age bias most colleges pride themselves on avoiding contaminate those evaluations, along with other nonacademic factors — like "sexiness." Since many institutions of higher learning use these surveys to determine whether faculty keep their jobs or get raises, their unreliability matters. But the impact these student reviews have on the quality of education raises even more troubling issues: Students give better evaluations to people who grade them more generously….

Monday, December 10, 2018

"a great complacency"

Good evening. (Yes, she wrote it out and everything! It had to come in under two minutes. Thanks to her co-conspirators!)

I am Lisa Alvarez, professor of English at IVC.

Earlier this year, I became aware that I (along with another faculty member) was the target of letters filed by a former student which were disturbing and threatening. You have received copies of my letter. I expect that when you read it, you quickly recognized its worrisome contents.

I was not informed of this letter until weeks after the fact and faculty and staff, not just me, became alarmed, and not for the first time and not because of the existence of such troubled students, but because of the failure of our institution to act swiftly and prudently.

The administrative response was so disappointing that I reached out to an attorney to file a complaint which asked for, among other actions, the implementation of policies to ensure this does not happen again, the formation of a Threat Assessment Team and a review of IVC’s Title IX Office.

Like the board, I recently received a letter from the district’s lawyer regarding my attorney’s request.

The district’s lawyer offered a defensive response that, along with an incomplete and distorted presentation of events which erased my own advocacy’s role in the actions taken and failed to specify large gaps of time between actions, most importantly failed to address my core concerns which are NOT financial compensation, but campus safety and college leadership.

In times like these, colleges must reconsider their approach to protecting students, staff and faculty. In times like these, the times often called Me Too, the assessment of credible threats MUST include the perspective of the target, so often women, the threat assessors so often men.

Many at IVC sense a great complacency and failure to take seriously and respectfully our very real concerns about our safety. Instead our concerns are routinely diminished and dismissed.

The board has an opportunity to do what we at IVC sorely need – lead. We hope you do.

Thank you.

They don't care.

They can't.

The old punk says it the nature of the institutions: it institutionalizes even the best.

The old teacher says they'll change when someone gets hurt, really hurt.

The former student reminds us people forget what it was like to be afraid, so surrounded they by comfort and seasonal wish songs and stipends.

The former child who grew up in neighborhood where people didn't care about anything or anyone, never called the police no matter how much the beaten child or wife was screaming, looked past the cigarette burns on the thin skin of a girl's hand and the first black eye and the second and the third,  tried not to think about the gun in the closet or the knife in the glove box, she knows that people only take action when they themselves are threatened.  You can get them to to do the right thing but not for the right reasons. But often it's too late.

You want sorry? someone says. You'll never get that. They don't do that.


For the record, the board unanimously rejected Rebel Girl's attorney's complaint.

The December meeting of the SOCCCD Board of Trustees: LIVE AND DIRECT!

     6:21 - We're here early at the Ronnie Reagan tomb of solitude, waiting for the board to emerge from their closed session, where, among other things, they will be reflecting on Lisa Alvarez's (aka Rebel Girl's) complaint against the district.
     Some background: Back in August, it came to light that, at some point, an unbalanced ex-student had written an 8-page, single-spaced letter throwing absurd charges of sexual misconduct at Lisa. (The student wrote an equally unhinged letter about another female faculty member, this one in the Social Sciences.)
     I have read parts of the letter, and I assure you that it is disturbing.
     Now, in fact, the college had been in possession of these letters but did not bother to alert the two faculty to their existence for weeks!
     So what did Roquemore and Co. actually do? They evidently judged the letters to be essentially non-threatening; they proceeded to pursue the letter-writer's lurid charges and thus the faculty were investigated. (They were eventually "cleared.")
     In this instance and in others, the college has demonstrated worrisome incompetence with regard to threats to the safety of faculty and others.
     In the face of the college and district's unaccountable failure to inform her of the worrisome letter—and the continued failure of administration to acknowledge this snafu—Lisa and attorney V. James deSimone filed a complaint.
     In response, the district wrote a letter essentially rejecting her complaint and leaving the matter of security deficiencies at that. 
     Tonight, I expect that Lisa will address the situation during public comments.
     More to come....

     6:39 - Three or four of the trustees are lurking. We're still waiting for Wright, Jay, et al.
     6:42 - All present, except for Milchiker. Her son is getting married someplace.

     6:44 - MEETING OPENS.. Prendergast reports out: 7-0 reject Lisa Alvarez' complaint...... etc.
     Invocation, by Prendergast.
     Lang: "we salute the flag of this great nation"

     Jemal: Oath of office for Prendergast and Whitt who were recently reelected.
     They do the oath, right hands high. Upholding the Constitution....
     Pretty clumsy stuff. Laughter.
     Prendergast acknowledges support of his "amazing wife."

     They return to their perches, all feathers in place.

     Now: annual organizational meeting; election of officers.
     Any nominations for board president? Jay nominates Jemal. Will demur at this time. Been Pres for last three years. It's important to have rotation of officers. So I decline.
     Any other motions? Whitt nominates Prendergast for President. Seconded by Wright, who briefly awakens with a snort. They vote. It's unanimous, except Prendergast, abstains, natch.
     Next, VP. Whitt nominates Jemal. Jemal accepts. Unanimous (Jemal Abstains)
     Office of Clerk: nominations. Whitt nominates Wright, "a great mentor to me." "Very intuitive."
     They vote: unanimous, etc..
     Next, secretary and assist. secretary. Blah, blah blah.
     Committees in the district. School Dist. organization. Blah blah blah.
     Musical chairs, various committees.

     7:10 - Recess ("musical chairs," they explain, etc.)

     7:16 - Back in session; now, TJ Prendergast is President of the Board.


     Lisa Alvarez: She describes the disturbing letter filed by an unhinged student. Lisa was not informed of the letter until weeks after the fact. Owing to the college's disappointing response, she says, I filed a complaint. I received the district's response which distorted the facts, the timetable, etc. My concern is campus safety, not compensation. Our concerns are routinely diminished and dismissed.
     "Lead," she said.

     Prendergast: "thank you." [So, that's it.]

Board reports:

David Lang: congrats to former officers of the board. Fabulous job.

Barbara Jay: congrats to new officers. Attended the "feast of lights." "Outstanding." Attended nursing pinning, etc. "Wonderful." Blah blah blah. She simply reports what she attended. It was all "wonderful." She really appreciated that African number.

Tim Jemal: thank you, board, for allowing me to be Pres. A good board. Lots of passion, civility. He, too, attended "nurses pinning ceremony." "Fabulous." Holiday party at IVC. Saddleback Holiday party was also great. Great college. Great district.

Jim Wright: congrats TJ, et al. I also attended blah blah blah. Nurse pinning, yadda yadda. Laser this, Laser that. Tells some yarn about Gooding, Idaho. Goes back to sleep.

Terri Whitt: wishes everyone a wonderful holiday. "Let there be harmony." Really enjoys Christmas songs. So proud of the district. Thanks the board. "I've learned so much." Thanks to new officers. Blah blah blah

TJ Prendergast: thank you, thank you. Thanks to Jemal. "wishful holiday season." It's not happy for everyone, he says. Blah blah blah.

Student Trustee Evelyn Huong: attended this and that. (She's as cute as a button.) Student safety forum, blah blah blah. "Student safety is a right." Happy holidays.

Chancellor Burke: Happy holidays. First opportunity to attend nurses' pinning. Something at IVC. "Lots of spirit shown." Thanks Jemal for leadership. She hands him a plaque. He takes it. Photo op.

College Presidents reports:

Roquemore (IVC): Congrats to new leadership. Kari Tucker: teacher of the year. Spoke to ASG. Very rewarding. Involved in Honors Program. "I am an idiot," he seems to say.

President (?) (SC): congrats to new officers. Women's cross country winners. Blah blah blah.

Student government officers...blah blah blah. Homelessness among students throughout the state. A serious problem. Student forum, etc. Issues of student safety, etc. "Cramathon." Stress reduction workshops.

Board requests for reports? None.
No discussion item.

Consent Calendar: any pulls? None [It's democracy in action, folks.]
They vote: unanimous


6.1 - A $734K National Science Foundation grant. Lang has concerns. Someone comes up to explain. "We're the lead college," she says. Talks about hubs and replication. STEM core cohorts. Blah blah blah. "Program model is very successful." Saddleback is the leader. Lang: how do we use outside consultants? They yammer.
     "It's a big deal, isn't it?" says Lang. Yep.
     Wright: "this is a big deal."
     People kept saying "STEM" and mentioned big money. So everyone had a stupid smile. The feeling was: gosh we must be excellent. Maybe someone is.
     They voted. Unanimous yes

6.2 - related grant. Unanimous yes

6.3 - Study Abroad, Costa Rica. Lang: zip lines, white-water... I was a little concerned about risk, he peeps. Wants reassurance. Ladies come up: those are extra activities. So is district at risk? $51 million in liability coverage. So we're covered.

6.4 - Salmanaca, Spain, study abroad. They vote: unanimous

6.5 - Santander, Spain, study abroad. They vote: unanimous

6.6 - Energy operating services.... They vote: unanimous

6.7 - Something about Snap-on, Lang: says that our chancellor had a good experience with this at Pierce College. Maybe the same for us? Lady comes up: something about prices being matched. A guy comes up to explain. Blah blah blah. They vote. Unanimous.

6.8 - Use of facilities? Capistrano Unified. They vote: unanimous

6.9 - Randy Erickson Law Firm. Mentions Warren Kinsler, longtime counsel for 18 years. Brown Act, etc. They vote: unanimous

6.10 - Security services at ATEP. Jemal: asks Chancellor Burke to explain the contract. Supplement to day security we already have. Blah blah blah. Lang: got different bids. What exactly will they be doing with their protection services? Maybe driving by? Scarfin' doughnuts? Answer: they're on site, they patrol. Digital monitoring. Whitt: was there an option of using our own people, part time? Could nurses do it instead? Davit K of IVC gets up: says something, who knows what. Whitt seems to be insisting on applying her nursing experiences to this situation. Jemal: the campus is a combo project IVC/SC, but there's only one building there now and it's IVC's. At some later date, there'll be two buildings, including SC building. Are we looking ahead to this?  They vote: unanimous. (except Terri Whitt abstaining; she's quietly peevish)

6..11 - another NSF thing. Unanimous yes.

6..12 - BP1500 pulled. (?) blah blah blah. Yellow section deleted. They vote: unanimous

6.13 - More board policy revision - for review and study They vote. unanimous

6.14 - Workday inc. Jemal: strong expression of concern about Workday a couple of years ago. Have things improved? Is there some support among classified staff for Workday? "A loaded question." Har har. "Yes, workday has gotten better." Happy with it? No. Trying to make improvements to it. Trying to make it easier to work with. I'll say this: It's better than scrapping and starting over. Workday is probably the second best among stuff available. They all have pluses and minuses. That it's in the cloud is a good thing but also a bad thing. Jemal: best to just stick with Workday for now? Yes. Bramucci: blah blah blah. The initial problems have lessened. Whitt: refers to hospital experiences again.... She seems dissatisfied with the dissatisfaction with Workday. They vote: Whitt abstains, others yes.

6.15 - Personnel actions, academic. K Feldus included. Six cases read out. They vote: unanimous, (except Whitt abstains. She's peeved again, thinking about nurses)

6..16 - Canvas conversation stipend. They vote: Only Lang votes "no"

6.17 - classified personnel actions. They vote: unanimous

6.18 - They vote, unanimous

6.19 - employment agreement, Dr. Elliot Stern, President, Saddleback College
JEMAL: will start at Saddleback College next month. The Chancellor set a process that was a collaboration. All very good candidates. Looking forward to Stern. Impressive intellectual curiosity. Perhaps will transform SC in a meaningful way. They vote: unanimous. Wright abstains, others yes

6.20 - IVC student discipline. Expulsion of IVC student. They vote: unanimous

6.21 - IVC student discipline. Expulsion of IVC student. They vote: unanimous

6.22 - IVC President, resigns in shame. [—sorry, I was daydreaming]

7.1 - vision for success update
7.2 - list of board requested reports None
7.3 - college speakers
7.4 - none
7.5 - Facilites plan
7.6 - monthly financial status report
7.7 - Retiree trust fund

8..0 reports from admin and governance groups

A. Saddleback College Ac Senate - jokey
B. Faculty Association - faculty safety is a primary concern of district. "Safety shouldn't be politicized; should be a right," Thanks Lisa Alvarez. Reminded board they need to lead re safety. Seems to elude to Lisa's case. Supports her position. Eloquence from Kurt
C. IVC Academic Senate - June M. Underscores FA remarks re safety, I guess. Campus safety; faculty have lost faith in the process, More dialogue necessary. Thanks
D.. Bramucci: blah blah blah
E.. Human Resources: restful holidays.
I'm out of here. 

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