Glendale Community College hosted the Area C meeting of the Academic Senate of California Community Colleges (ASCCC) on Saturday, March 24th. There are 27 community colleges in the Area C region, from Cuesta College to Harbor College, and from Mount SAC to Citrus. The Senate Presidents and many Senate representatives from these colleges meet in order to discuss legislative updates that have a direct potential effect on our colleges and system. We also discuss proposed resolutions that will be debated and come to a vote at the forthcoming ASCCC Plenary.
Saturday’s resolutions were overshadowed by the legislative update, as well as glimpses of the Chancellor’s Office and its current activities. Julie Bruno, President of the statewide Academic Senate (ASCCC) attended and spoke frankly to the Senate representatives about decisions and guidelines recently handed down by the Chancellor’s Office. Chief among those are three that indicate Chancellor Oakley’s preference for a top-down method. Those three issues are: The CO’s Guidelines for implementing AB 705 (approved by the Governor on October 13th, 2017); FLOW (Flex Learning Options for Workers, the fully-online community college proposed by Governor Brown and endorsed by Chancellor Oakley); and a proposal to grant single-course equivalencies in place of our established Equivalency standards and processes that grant equivalency for the entire discipline or not at all.
As many of you know, AB 705 requires that CCCs use multiple measures to assess and place students into courses, as well as requiring that community colleges “maximize the probability that a student will enter and complete transfer-level coursework in math and English within a one-year timeframe.” On Thursday, March 22nd, Laura Hope, Executive Vice Chancellor, Educational Services and Support, sent out “Initial Guidance Language” for the implementation of AB 705. In it, the “one-year timeframe” mentioned in AB 705 is defined as “two primary terms or three quarters.” The implication that short sessions will be excluded from the time that may be dedicated to achieving college-level skills is troubling; many students require summer, winter and second summer in addition to the two primary terms in order to arrive at this capacity.
However, what is more troubling is the Chancellor’s Office’s attempt to place this expectation into regulations to be approved by the Board of Governors:
The Chancellor’s Office intends to propose regulations to the Board of Governors that would define the one-year time frame as two primary terms or three quarters (as applicable) for English and mathematics, and the three-year time frame as six primary terms or nine quarters (as applicable) as it relates to English as a Second Language (ESL) instruction. (Hope, 2018)
This would mean that the time limit, along with other stipulations of compliance, would be incorporated into the California Code of Regulations. There are real benefits to our students in the original intent of AB 705; the new plan to regulate and to demand compliance – by tying funding to community colleges’ proof that they have placed most of their incoming students in college-level courses – is the wrong way to attain those benefits. Hope’s letter makes it clear that this stick is already in the Chancellor’s hand:
To further clarify the importance of making these changes, it is also worthwhile to note that funding for both AB 19 [College Promise] and Guided Pathways are contingent upon compliance with AB 705, which is expected by fall of 2019 in accordance with the previously published timeline found on the website. (Hope, 2018)
Hope’s letter addressed ways in which the CO intended to “guide” colleges in their adoption of 705’s plans and ramifications for English placement and instruction. It ends with a promise that the Initial Guidance Language for Math placement and instruction will come soon.
This kind of autocratic, top down “guidance” is unlike anything that we’ve seen from previous residents of the Chancellor’s Office. Julie Bruno told us that the unprecedented turnover at the Vice Chancellor-level has left us with a band of new Vice Chancellors who have little institutional memory or awareness of the Academic Senate’s consultative process or duty.
Chancellor Oakley also appears to be moving forward with FLOW as if it had already been approved by the Legislature, even though at hearings last week, the Legislature questioned with open minds, yet left the hearings with a powerful sense that FLOW is an ill-advised enterprise with a wasteful misdirection of funds. Yet information events have been scheduled and are being conducted by Vice Chancellors up and down the state on the implementation of FLOW as I write.
Please join us at the Senate Electorate meeting on Thursday, May 3rd, from 12:20 – 1:30 p.m. in CS 137. We will consult you, we will listen, and we will serve pizza.