During the Fall Plenary and at the recently held Accreditation Institute, members of the Accreditation and SLO Committee attempted to address accreditation stories that have thrived like urban legends across the state with kernels of truth garnished with large doses of fiction. Much of the concern clearly comes from the rising number of colleges receiving sanctions, including two colleges now facing "show cause" as a result of the January 2009 commission decisions, placing them one step from termination of accreditation.
During the Fall 2008 Plenary Session, a resolution calling for the Academic Senate to begin collecting SLOs for a library was passed by a close margin. The library's purpose was to provide examples of SLOs from across the state so that hard-working faculty would have the option of looking at SLOs from other schools to help them with their own work. The vote was so close that it not only required a verbal yeah and nay, but a standing vote as well. Finally, because the numbers looked so close, a serpentine vote (counting off) was needed to get a final tally.
At about this time last year, the California community colleges were confronting the fact that a large number of our colleges were being placed on warning and probation. Nine colleges were put on warning (the first level of censure by the Accrediting Commission) and two colleges were put on probation (the second and more serious level of censure). Six months later, the June report came out, and while four colleges moved off of censure status to have their accreditation reaffirmed, eight additional colleges were put on warning and one was put on probation.
Time and time again, suggestions come from outside our "system" as to how to "fix" us. Interestingly, although our problems are complex, proposals to "fix" us tend to be quite simplistic and are often focused on increasing administrative flexibility while sacrificing quality. And when economic challenges emerge, the fixes seem to be more short-sighted than usual.
Our senate wants to help our student association become more involved, organized and professional. Do you have any resources for us?
Wanting to Help Students
Minimum qualifications provide the common, unifying core for all faculty within a discipline. They provide the buffet of knowledge and skills that fill the plates of every course approved by the curriculum committee. Each decision to assign a course to a certain discipline(s) is critical to student success as well as affecting overall program success, hiring decisions, and more. For all these reasons and others, several papers on minimum qualifications and equivalencies have been adopted by the Academic Senate.
The question of "Transfer Degrees" is a hot topic for many people-especially those outside our colleges. Explaining the Academic Senate position is not simple, and a reductionist view ridiculously suggests that somehow we oppose transfer or oppose degrees. Because the Academic Senate has recently received several inquires, we were prompted to summarize the Senate's positions, which are based on several recent resolutions.
Whenever systemwide policies are proposed there is a natural and understandable concern expressed by faculty. Local district control of curricular policy is critical in maintaining effective learning environments that are relative to each district's unique demographics. In this case, however, a systemwide community college GE AP list would not compromise local district control. The intent of the CCC GE AP list is to equate AP scores to broad general education "area" requirements that are required across all campuses (Title 5 55063.
Over the past years, more and more faculty senate presidents have complained about the scarcity of faculty willing to take over the leadership role on their campuses. Many of these complaints have been that the workload is unmanageable, the conflict is unbearable, or there is no reassigned time to attract new faculty to participate in the local senate. So faculty often ask, "If no one is willing to assume the role, how do I find my replacement?
Had we but data enough, and time, this coyness, lady, were no crime. In the 2003-04 academic year, I had the privilege of serving on the Curriculum Committee of the Academic Senate for the California Community Colleges. I do not say this ironically. Like most of us, I have pursued a career in community college teaching out of a foolish idealism that I could make the world a better place, and on last year's Curriculum Committee I found, I think, like-minded individuals. Strange, to think that fiddling with Title 5 language could lead to such an outcome.