Life-Long Learning in the Senate

September
2004
Shaaron Vogel, Representative at Large

What an exciting year this has been and so many issues for a local senator to confront! Because of our changing environment, our senators are always learning about new laws, conflicts and other surprises. Each local senate is a model for the need and practice of life-long learning. The wonderful part is that the Academic Senate has the resources to assist you in this process, especially if you are a faculty member in an occupational or technical field.

As a senator on my own campus with a focus on Occupational Education, I found that expanding my learning to other areas of the campus was essential and challenging. As instructors we are aware of the many learning styles, preparation levels, and needs of our students. We adjust our classroom to try to ensure all students can be successful. Taking this practice to your local senate is just as critical. Representing and understanding the needs of your different programs, faculty and staff can be overwhelming but rewarding. Here are a few questions to ask yourself about:

How much FTES comes from our campus vocational programs?
How much of our FTES comes from vocational students taking GE courses?
How much Perkins or VTEA money comes to our college and how is it expended?
How many basic skills classes do we offer and what are those faculty's needs and concerns?
How directly are those faculty linked to academic and vocational programs?
How many counselors do we have and what is the student-to-counselor load?
How are the budget cutbacks affecting the classified staff and student access?
How many distant education classes are we offering and how are they, their students and their faculty evaluated?

Now don't run screaming from the room! The Academic Senate for California Community Colleges can help you find the answers and has resources for you to use to update your knowledge and understanding.

Here's what I advise: attend the Senate's fall and spring Plenary Sessions, the Leadership and Curriculum Institutes offered in the summer, and the Vocational Leadership Conference offered in the spring. This last year over 120 people attended our Vocational Leadership conference where issues are discussed and solutions sought. Networking with experienced senators/faculty is invaluable. The Academic Senate website contains senate papers and links to other supportive sites (www.academicsenate.cc.ca.us).

This past year the Senate worked closely with ED>PAC an economic and workforce development council, ED>PAC, and with California Community Colleges Association for Occupational Education (CCCAOE) to build stronger relationships and joint efforts to support occupational education and its students. Both of these groups have a career and technological focus and can be a resource for those of you who have not had much contact with the vocational part of your campus curriculum and faculty.

Vocational education website links that can assist you are: Chancellor's Office at www.cccco.edu/divisions/esed/voced, www.cccco.edu/divisions/esed/econdev, California Community College Economic and Workforce Development at www.cccewd.net and CCCAOE at www.cccaoe.org. Another useful website because of its links and its updates on its progressive project is the Career Ladders Website at http://careerladdersproject.org.

So much to learn and so little time, but we can do it together and help one another. Use our resources, network, and come join us at the Academic Senate meetings to make your life-long learning productive, easy and fun.

The articles published in the Rostrum do not necessarily represent the adopted positions of the academic senate. For adopted positions and recommendations, please browse this website.