Sometimes it is just too easy to blame the faculty. We see it in the daily newspaper: what is wrong with the K-12 school system is the teachers, whether it is the fact that they cannot compensate for all that ails society by way of the children in their classes or whether it is their resistance to tying student progress to teacher performance evaluations. In postsecondary education, the faculty are also an easy target: some folks claim that colleges and universities are inflexible or stuck in the Middle Ages.
At our recent Fall Plenary, basic skills issues seemed to infuse themselves in a variety of breakouts, activities, and presentations-a reminder of the enormity of our professional and academic responsibilities to ensure the success of our students. But this focus, whether deliberate or not, was clearly reflected in the Plenary title, "Change by Design: Opportunities for Transformation."
Like you, I am inundated with useful reports from policy institutes, organizations, grant-funded projects, and professional organizations. I'm sure you have a stack of these reports, piled high on or near your desk, which you plan to read when you have time, which you rarely do. At our recent Academic Senate plenary session, Jane Patton and I gave a breakout on recent reports, and for those of you who were unable to attend, it seems only appropriate that I try to assist with your workload by providing you with an overview of these and other even more recent reports.
As the Academic Senate Executive Committee reviews the strategic plans of the various standing committees each year, it is faced with the daunting task of how to address all the resolutions that the body has passed over the past year(s). In some instances there is nothing that can be done-at the present time, at least. Others are much easier to address with concrete action. But our adopted resolutions live on, even if they are no longer included as part of a committee's strategic plan for the year.
The California Community College System serves the most diverse student population from varied backgrounds of any higher education system in the country. Our student bodies are comprised of demographic groups that traditionally have faced barriers to education and we must admit that many students enter our classes underprepared and immediately realize they will face significant obstacles in our classrooms.
As educators, our challenge is to help as many of our students as possible to reach their personal and academic goals.
The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges (ASCCC) awarded the Jonnah Laroche Memorial Scholarships to two continuing students and one transfer student this fall. Florencia Gomez of Antelope Valley College and Mario Zamora of Los Angeles City College were named the continuing student scholarship winners, and Shardae Collins, also of Los Angeles City College, was named the transfer student award winner. Gomez and Zamora each receive $500, and Collins, who will attend California State University Los Angeles in the spring, receives $1000.
March comes in like a lion in 2008 with the Vocational Education Leadership Institute March 6-8 at the Seascape Resort in Aptos, California. As chair of the Occupational Education Committee this year, I want to take this opportunity to share with you some of the exciting things we have planned for the Leadership Institute and encourage you to share this information with the vocational faculty on your campus.
At our college, it is sometimes difficult to find faculty with the minimum qualifications for our discipline. Occasionally, we have hired someone prior to the completion of all requirements for the master's degree, but the individual assured us that the orals, thesis, or qualifying exam would be completed in the summer. What happens if the individual never actually earned a master's degree and now has been teaching for several years? Will we be audited and lose apportionment for classes taught by this person?
Nationally and in California, policy makers, employers and educators have focused new attention on two strategies that principally affect our occupational programs today, but which have the potential of affecting all programs in the college.
One strategy is strengthening the linkages between secondary schools and higher education; the other is expanding opportunities for high school students to take college courses: concurrent or dual enrollment.
One week after our Fall Plenary in Anaheim, I attended the Fall Student General Assembly in San Jose. The close proximity of the two events provides opportunity to understand the role of the Student Senate for California Community Colleges (SSCCC), but perhaps more importantly, to appreciate our community college student leaders and take in their views on the issues that we faculty often forget as we derive our own stands.