The Basic Skills Initiative has taught us a lot of important things about our profession and about the students we serve in our classrooms. We know the percentage of first time students with basic skills needs are over 75%. But how much basic skills work do they need? In other words, we know the breadth, but what is the depth of those needs? The work with CB 21 rubrics and recoding basic skills courses has provided a great deal of information about the depth of basic skills needs.
Discussions have come up on our campus about evaluations. The union wants to start reviewing some of the aspects of evaluations, and many of our part-time faculty members who lost jobs due to budget cuts are angry since they feel our evaluation process did not adequately include and protect them. What role does the senate have in evaluations, and where should we begin the conversation?
Looking for the starting line
In Spring 2009, the Academic Senate adopted resolutions 9.02 and 9.03, calling for “changes… to Title 5 language on prerequisites that [would]… allow local faculty to base their determination for prerequisites of English, reading, or mathematics for collegiate level courses on content review” (9.02) and for “potential pilot projects, easily replicable at all colleges, for applying basic skills prerequisites to general education courses” (9.03). The question now is how to fulfill the requirements of these resolutions as effectively as possible.
Elimination of new student orientations, students registering for classes without assessing in mathematics and English, no student education plans. These are just a few of the examples of what might be in store for our campuses this year due to the unprecedented cuts to categorical programs. In July, the Governor signed into law a state budget that not only included deep funding cuts to categoricals, but also mandated significant policy changes allowing districts flexibility to move funds between categorical programs.
The past few months have been a challenge for us all on so many levels. As we face unprecedented budget cuts, funding deferrals, and surges in enrollment, we also are getting a glimpse into the politics of it all. It is clear that some of our programs, and some of our student populations, have been deemed not worthy of the state’s resources. And those who care about student success and understand that success requires appropriate and adequate support are likely convinced that student success has been found not worthy.
One of the perennial thorny issues that confronts local senates is the question of whether or not they are subject to the Ralph M. Brown Open Meetings Act. The short and simple answer is yes, though reasonable minds may disagree on the status of some local senate standing and ad hoc committees.
California’s current budget meltdown, the significant reductions in funding to the California community colleges, and the need for colleges to meet the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges’ (ACCJC’s) expectations on budgeting and planning have made Resolution 2.01 S08 timely. This resolution asks the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges to review its paper The Faculty Role in Planning and Budgeting to determine whether any update or further action is warranted in light of the 2002 Accreditation Standards.
While community colleges are not normally thought of as research institutions, an increasing amount of research is being conducted, including analyses of student success data, examinations of teaching strategies and how well they improve student learning, and studies of the effectiveness of student intervention strategies.