What’s up ahead? Some things to read…

17 Nov

Trying to predict what the California legislature is going to do next is not easy, but it’s not impossible, either.  Someone will probably be right about what they’re up to.

One thing is certain:  this legislature (and the one before it) has certainly gotten into the habit of proposing and discussing myriad laws that attempt to manage (even micro-manage) many aspects of education, K-12 and college included.   One author has compared it to the use of a remote control:  the legislature thinks that if it writes a bill, the CLICK! the situation changes.  The article in its entirety can be found through your portal account (I’m assuming you have a VCCCD account) by clicking on library resources and then JSTOR.  Here’s a quote from that article by Mr. Cuban about legislative school reform:

“It’s become a garbage can in which to toss every bright idea and private bias that non-educators have about school reform.”

I like that he mentions how the bright ideas get tossed in the “garbage can.”  That’s because bright ideas, even though they’re bright, need to take shape in a different place that in Sacramento.  Sacramento is showing, though, that if we don’t implement our own bright ideas, they are more than willing to legislate them for us, thereby often denaturing the idea and dimming it by many lumens.

On our State Academic Senate side, it is with pride that I can cite a series of papers that should be of interest to Oxnard College Faculty:  Practices that Promote Equity and Diversity is one example.  The State Senate has taken a strong view on collecting data to ensure that our state resources are spent equitably, with a view to aiding students in certain demographic categories.  While this paper mentions “ethnicity,” at the most recent plenary session, a resolution was adopted to emphasize socioeconomic status instead, because, guess what?  Rich kids do much better than poor kids, regardless of ethnicity.  This move away from focus on ethnicity (and what some people still call race – that word is still in some of our laws) and onto a key demographic variable (socioeconomic status) is a good move.  This paper, even if you only read the first few pages, gives you a lot of sometimes needed intellectual ammunition to promote Basic Skills and related programs.

From our statewide group of mathematicians comes this beautiful paper on what is expected of entering college students, in terms of math.  It is probably not what you would have expected to see:  it provides a groundwork for innovative math pathways and many schools are changing their approach to math (not because of this paper, necessarily, but because math teachers work hard at understanding how to teach math).  At OC, this is resulting in many changes (all born of very hard work from our math faculty), and there are more to come.

Finally (although I’d love to list a lot more papers!), here’s a crucially important paper on enrollment management.  It’s from ASCCC.  It advises local Senates to develop enrollment management philosophies and to address issues in their districts/colleges.  There is no more important issue at this particular point in time.  The paper leaves it open as to what kinds of policies local Senates should adopt, but this difficult topic should be broached – and in our Senate, I’m thinking sooner rather than later.  Now that we get a reprieve from talking strictly about money, the question of enrollment management (and how it relates to priority registration, class offerings, class caps, support services, mix of courses and so much more) needs to be addressed.  Please try and glance at this one!

Going forward, all of this homework will help us construct a wise Educational Master Plan.






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