Month: February 2015

First Step Towards Financial Transparency

From our colleagues at PAC AAUP:

I’d like to give major kudos to Trustee Joe Alderete. His dogged persistence for financial transparency has paid off.  Thanks to his insistence that taxpayers deserve to have quick access to as much financial detail as possible, we can now view precisely how much money is being spent by the Alamo Colleges. The Check Register for the Alamo Colleges is now available under the About Us tab of the District website.  I’ve included screen shots of the webpage and a small sample of the Check Register.
It’s refreshing to see Board members respond to concerned students, faculty, staff and taxpayers.
Financial transparency is only the beginning.  Transparency in decision-making (keeping minutes, providing rationale, etc.) is the next challenge.   With this victory for taxpayers and stakeholders, I’m feeling hopeful that we shall soon be able to ask informed questions and better understand District’s questionable patterns in spending.
Again, kudos to Trustee Alderete’s hard work toward openness and transparency. This is what public service is all about.
Please try out the website that provides the check register. You may find interesting information.

 

National Adjunct Walkout Day

What would it be like if the Alamo Colleges tried to get through just one day without adjuncts? If college costs keep rising, why are adjunct faculty on welfare? When we tell our adjuncts to attend trainings, meetings and work on projects on their own time without compensation, is that not immoral?

From Inside Higher Ed:

Today Is National Adjunct Walkout Day
February 25, 2015
As part of National Adjunct Walkout Day today, many adjuncts — along with some students and tenure-line faculty members — will walk out of their classes or participate in other forms of protest on campuses across the U.S. and Canada. The idea was posed in the fall on social media to highlight adjuncts’ working conditions, lack of job security and relatively low pay. Many adjuncts on unionized campuses are prohibited by their collective bargaining agreements or state laws from walking out, but many unions have pledged to support the effort through awareness campaigns, such as teach-ins. A list of actions is available here, and updates will be posted throughout the day on Twitter under #NAWD and on Facebook.

Two steps forward, one step back

In the never ending dance with Chancellor Bruce Leslie over majors, we’ve received word that he is way more willing to work with the recent faculty response and plan than we thought he would be. It’s too early to tell if this is a Covey style WIN WIN, but it’s Monday, it’s cold and we could use some good news!

Make no mistake about it, the point where we are at right now has taken an ENORMOUS amount of time, effort and passion on the part of students, parents, community members, staff, faculty, and administrators. Everyone is pretty darn exhausted, but keeping our majors intact at each independently accredited college is probably the most important issue we’ve worked on to date.

Thank you to everyone who has written, presented, talked, planned, and most importantly, asked questions about the majors issue.

Stay warm and have a great week.

dance-steps

 

serenity now

We’ve been publishing a lot of posts in the last few days and appreciate your hanging in there as we move through the mountains of information that is being thrown our way! Thank you for reading. Thank you for your support. Now let’s unplug a little and have a great weekend.

wellinformed

guess who is slacking on his WIG?

We know Chancellor Bruce Leslie has been pretty busy lately, but dang. He’s really slacking up on his Covey 4DX Wildly Important Goal (WIG). Look at all that red. Guess he doesn’t like doing it any more than we do. But unlike faculty and staff who have supervisors breathing down their necks, who is holding him accountable?

WIG_001

your move, Bruce: faculty send response to Leslie on status of majors

Sent to Chancellor Bruce Leslie, the PVC , the Board of Trustees and all faculty this afternoon. See also: timeline of events surrounding the removal of majors:

Dear Dr. Leslie:

I have attached the faculty response to the status of majors for your consideration. This document and the process of its approval represent hundreds of hours of work by multiple faculty who are genuinely concerned about the education of our students and the betterment of our community. To reach this point, faculty leadership took the following steps:

1. I sent a copy of the agreed-upon language from Super Senate to all faculty and encouraged faculty to work with their senates to provide feedback.

2. Faculty senate leaders consulted with their presidents and sent the plan forward to them for consideration at their February 9th meeting. The presidents approved of the plan but were concerned you might not accept it because of your desire for an overarching District committee. They asked us to consider using both our plan and an overarching District committee that would define the problems we face.

3. All faculty senates consulted their faculty and presented three alternatives: the plan reflecting only an overarching District committee, our plan, and a plan that starts with the District committee and then moves to the colleges. At all five colleges, faculty support was overwhelmingly in favor of presenting you with the original college-based plan.

At this very important crossroads, we acknowledge that the majors issue is complex and transferability of all coursework is a real problem we have to address.  We also recognize this is an issue tied inextricably to the accreditation of each college.  This is why we suggest that research should start with individual colleges’ committees.  It is imperative that each college has a full and clear understanding of the non-negotiable aspects of accreditation, where we are falling short in serving our students, and how to design measurable programs from which all courses transfer.  We welcome open and productive conversations that are informed first with internal research from the collection and assessment of our own data.  The accreditation process has shined the light on areas that deserve our attention, and we are aware that defining problems and divining solutions should be considered in light of these specific problems.

In short, we need space and the support of District to begin the conversation at our individual colleges in order to understand more deeply what is at issue and to gather all of the experts on each campus in order to define our problem areas. Once we identify our own problem areas, we will be ready to move forward with our sister colleges and District to collect and consider additional research, to define problems where they exist across colleges, and to identify common approaches for solving problems where possible.

This is an agenda item at Super Senate today, so we are prepared to begin discussion briefly; however, we would like to have more detailed discussion involving more of the faculty and presidential leadership at all five colleges, particularly those who were crucial in creating the plan. We also would like to include the board of trustees in this dialogue.

We look forward to your written response to our proposal.

Respectfully,

Dawn

Dawn L. Elmore, PhD
SAC Faculty Senate President/Alamo Colleges Super Senate President
Professor of English/Distance
Education Coordinator
San Antonio College

Modern Tools of Injustice

From our colleagues at PAC AAUP:

Was it necessary for the students of Palo Alto College (Student Leadership Coalition) to make a passionate display expressing their dissatisfaction with District leadership and ultimately asking for the removal of the Chancellor?

Probably not.  The information was clearly available for everyone to see but one has to wonder whether the data ever made it to the Board of Directors?

The report that should have alerted the Alamo Colleges trustees of the leadership fiasco was clearly available in a public report that is now posted in SAC AAUP’s website (see link below and big thanks to SAC AAUP for making it available).   The metrics below (scroll down to see charts and graphs) speak to concerns that have been communicated to the Board for several years now.  We now implore on the Board that if you want to address the REAL concerns of the colleges, stop relying on the filtered information that is given to you at the Board meetings.  Data are only as good as the subject matter it aims to represent (garbage in, garbage out).  Come to the colleges and meet the students and faculty at our campus.   It’s time that we challenge each Board member to attend an open forum at each college to put a face to the “real data” of our colleges.  Some Board members have already taken the challenge:  Kingsbery, Herrera and Alderete who came to visit students and faculty at PAC.  They are clearly aware of our student, faculty and, if given a fair chance to communicate without repercussions, the STAFF.  The staff at our colleges are the ones who are MOST aware of the problems, but are the ones who are least able to speak up since they are fully cognizant that their jobs could easily be converted to temporary or contract work, just as many already have, thus lose out on health benefits.

If each Board member had visited all college campuses and met with faculty and students, they would have clearly seen the pattern that the data below overwhelmingly display.

Board members have a responsibility to taxpayers to go beyond the surface data and look at the real issues that afflict our communities.  I must warn them, since the leadership problem have not been addressed for many years, your visit to the colleges may not feel comfortable.  The so-called “data-driven” leadership was merely a ruse to sweep real problems under each college’s campus grounds.  Like the contaminated soil that plagues numerous sites around the city, this too will eventually come out…and it won’t be pretty.

I consider the students of Palo Alto College Student Leadership Coalition true heroes who have mustered enough courage to speak to those who refuse to see the concerns that plague our colleges. One of our readers sent me the quote below.  It speaks to the important work of social justice that PAC students have taken upon themselves:

“Social justice demands that we comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.”

Has District become so comfortable that it cannot hear the cries of the discomforted? Are we now witnessing the ill-effects of District bloat which hides behind the modern tools of injustice: “data-driven” “efficiency” “cost saving” “awards” “students don’t do options” and many other euphemisms that result in suppressing the voices of those most in need.

Once more, the major problems that continue to plague the colleges are:  District Leadership, College level morale resulting from poor leadership from District, Initiative overload (too many initiatives from District), Poor (or top-down) communication, ineffective programs and technology leading to waste and frustration.  And many more.

link to report, courtesy of SAC AAUP:

https://sacaaup.org/2015/02/19/swot-analysis-shows-low-morale-lack-of-trust/

Notice that LEADERSHIP ISSUES is listed 11 times in the tables below.  Do we need to raise a Texas-sized flag at each campus that reads LEADERSHIP ISSUES.  Why not just listen to the PAC students, lest they make people feel “uncomfortable.”