“Re Re RE: Kick ‘Em in the Other Knee”

Dear Diary,

I’m comin’ to you live (half-baked and barely) from the land of the diabolic cheer that begins with “Re”.  It’s about kicking a person when they are already down and it is exactly that I wish to impart to you this day to get it out of my system.

REformers wish to put all of us in the trenches of education into a “RE” pattern.  A RE-DO, if you will.  At my public college, we have been simultaneously experiencing three “RE”s all at once:

REstoration

REconsideration

REorganization

The first is a bogus plan schemed up by a scary group of college administrators (some who have been given a vote of “no confidence” at their colleges) who are now at the top of the accrediting game for 2-year colleges in California.  The ACCJC call this plan, “Restoration”, which implies that something was lost and needs to be restored.  Yes, they terminated the accreditation of one of the largest public colleges in the United States in 2013 though the college had been and continues to provide the highest quality of education in the state among the 112 California Community Colleges.  The current president (I can’t even capitalize the title anymore) of the ACCJC has had our college in a headlock, noose, and executioner’s blindfold for the past 3 years spinning us in circles for one last gasp of hard labor while  she happily tugs at the rope around our neck, threatening closure.  It’s a sick game. Yet still, 3 years into this, and even with the law on our side in another court-ordered process known as REconsideration, she laughs, dancing around the judge’s order to provide evidence as to why she refuted an entire Visiting Team report on the college in 2013 to make the decision to terminate. Her report to the college completely lacks evidence.  But she cares not, knowing full well that our college is stuck in a quagmire of top-tier administrators that have only been here a short while and continue to do anything she directs them to (so it appears in their decision-making).

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors have supported the faculty, students, and staff throughout this entire upheaval by demanding a return of our democratically-elected Board of Trustees as we have been under the rule of a single overlord known as a Special Trustee with Extraordinary Powers for 2 years.  California state politicians (both Democrat and Republican) during an audit of the ACCJC found a haughty and dismissive president in their presence.  But still, she carries forward her torch to deny CCSF a true reconsideration.  We are expected to write yet another report (due June 27) to provide the commission a reason to reconsider their original decision to terminate.  It’s laughable.  As if.

Yet no one is laughing at our college as we just discovered that our administration decided to hold a “closed session” with our Board of Trustees (who are slowly, drip-by-drip returning to power) to discuss whether a letter should be written to the City Attorney’s Office to request that the Judge look at the document delivered by the ACCJC to City College of San Francisco on April 8th. It is a pretense to fulfill the requirement of the court order, but, instead, boldly refutes the will of the Judge.  They provide NO EVIDENCE and NO DATA to back up their decision to terminate, exactly what the judge ordered them to provide.  Though the faculty, students, and staff wish for the college to make a public statement about this in a letter to the City Attorney who filed a lawsuit in 2013 to save CCSF on behalf of the People of the State of California, the administration has delivered a message: “The Board has directed us to not write a letter, so we will continue forward with responding to the ACCJC’s reconsideration.” At the same time, we have another year of restoration as well.  This is a two-year, new plan the ACCJC schemed up just for CCSF to  force us into full compliance on the ACCJC’s newly written 2014 Accreditation Standards, something that everyone agrees is impossible.  100% compliance is unattainable for any entity whether it be a business, a public non-profit, a government, a club — when was the last time you found anything in 100% shape?  Think about it…

Reorganization?  You’ve all heard of that. It’s the new way in the good ol’ U.S. of A.  The recipe is to take something that works, though it may need a bit of sprucing up here and there with better funding and such, and decide from the top-down that the best way forward will be to just flip the entire organization over, slice-and-dice it, toss it all back into the pan, and stir it up to make some new meal out of it.  The more heat you put on it, the more you might control that microbial growth. Yes, that has been bandied about for the past  year as well in our college. You can imagine how exhausting it is to just wake up every day.

{Sports-announcer over the PA system} “The quarterback goes back for the throw!  The football flies through the air 35-yards down field!  In a fantastic jump catch between 3 defenders, the wide-receiver grabs the ball, lands and runs toward…Wait!  This is something we have never seen!  The goalpost!  The end zone!  It’s moving!  The closer the receiver runs to make the touchdown the further the post moves!  This is astonishing, people!  What game is this?”

Re Re Re:  Kick ‘Em in the Other Knee!

moving goalpost    Cheerleading F

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Predatory Purveyors of Pedagogy

Dear Diary,

This line from an article in the Portland Press Herald encapsulates the points that I will undertake in my writing to you today:  “Corinthian Colleges once ran 107 campuses that served more than 100,000 students. It was a Wall Street darling for its lucrative model of offering degrees to low-income students who borrowed heavily from the government to pay tuition.”

I’ve been doing some research to discover that in 2013, the top 5 executives of Corinthian Colleges, Inc. earned a combined $6.5m in executive pay and other compensation packages while 85% of its revenue source came directly from the federal government.  When you follow the money, you see that these pirates purposefully plundered the United States Treasury for their personal profit. They baited low-income students and veterans of the military whose higher education dreams were shattered when weeks before graduation, 16,000 students arrived at shuttered doors and a news media eager to report the drama of their indebtedness with no degree to show for their hard work. And what of the thousands of students who continue to pay their student loans who now hold a worthless piece of paper embossed with the Heald, Everest, and WyoTech logos?

I must repeat this: “It was a Wall Street darling for its lucrative model of offering degrees to low-income students who borrowed heavily from the government to pay tuition.” Who pays for the crumbled corporation now?  I do. You do. We all do. The middle class pays her taxes to keep this country afloat, bankrolling these insidious cheats.  CEO Jack D. Massimino earned $3M in 2013 while the for-profit education giant was under investigation by the U.S. Department of Education, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

From an article in the Atlantic MonthlyUltimately, several deals Corinthian had hoped to make didn’t happen. Corinthian’s CEO, Jack Massimino, said in a statement Sunday that “the current regulatory environment” prevented the company from ensuring “a seamless transition for our students.”

Therein lies the culprit: “the current regulatory environment,” spoken by this $3M-annual-salary-package CEO, stated that regulation was the problem for them to do the right thing for their students. Well, Diary, it is exactly the (lack of enough) current regulatory environment that kept these sham colleges open and continued their eligibility to receive government funding for the students that lead up to the abrupt closure last week. The grand government puppets of the plutocrats advocated for Corinthian while they were under investigation. While the “U.S. Department of Education alleged the enterprise misrepresented job placement data and altered grades and attendance records,” Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio asked the U.S. Department of Education to “demonstrate leniency” toward Corinthian Colleges by permitting the wealthy for-profit company to continue accessing millions of dollars in federal financial aid while it was cooperating with a federal investigation. (Rubio’s Advocacy For Corinthian Colleges Draws Scrutiny)

My heart hurts when I read this line in the aforementioned article: “…[Corinthian Colleges, Inc.] institutions that pledged to provide affordable, efficient vocational training to nontraditional college students: single parents, military vets, high-school dropouts who wanted to get back on track.”  I cannot imagine what it must feel like to pay $20,000 – $60,000 in tuition toward achieving a dream that you were told would bring you success in life only to be left completely shut-out. To be told that earning a college degree would give you a leg up and out of that low-income job you work while going to school, caring for your children, and transforming into a better self. I wonder if those students are at home on this Sunday with head-in-hands wondering what to do next while looking at an empty calendar that would have been filled with preparation for the end of a semester and possible graduation.  Most of the students that I teach at City College of San Francisco hail from under-served populations with low-income backgrounds, but they are the lucky ones who somehow avoided the predators. They came to CCSF at a $46 per unit fee (it was once 1/2 that fee and even lower in the early 2000’s) which offers them the true dream to aspire and achieve. Well, that is if the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges does not accomplish its goal to terminate the accreditation of the excellent and resilient CCSF – a college that continues to offer high-quality education and inspiration to thousands of students while entering the 4th year of extreme hardship delivered by a commission driven to destroy it from the inside out. Oddly enough, this is the same commission that accredited Corinthian Colleges up through 2013.  Isn’t that something, Diary?

Someday soon, I’ll write to you about the very strange 3-years that I taught part-time at the Art Institute of California-San Francisco on 1170 Market Street.  AiCA-SF is one of several for-profit colleges of the EDMC – Education Management Corporation. The Pittsburgh PA-based operator of post-secondary educational institutions was expected to delist from the NASDAQ in November of 2014 and has eliminated approximately 2,600 positions with campuses in the process of closing.  I guess this is how the CCSF administration has orchestrated a deal to move the classes once offered at our prized Civic Center campus into the first four floors at 1170 Market Street.

Endcap:   2013 – Combined salaries of the top 5 administrators at Corinthian Colleges, Inc. = approx $6.45M

(Though their stock options are now at $.01, this was 2013, and we all know what execs do with their stock options before the company crumbles.)

Here’s the breakdown:
Jack D. Massimino
CEO and Chairman of the Board = $3M
Base pay: $900,000, Bonus and non-Equity Incentive Compensation: $307,395, Stock award and option value:  $1,719,207,  Other: $91,257

Beth A. Wilson
Executive Vice President (EVP) = $877,786
Base pay: $451,140, Bonus and non-Equity Incentive Compensation: $100,491, Stock award and option value:  $283,156, Other: $42,999

Kenneth S. Ord
EVP and Chief Administrative Officer = $1M
Base pay: $530,450, Bonus and non-Equity Incentive Compensation: $141,789, Stock award and option value:  $322,937  Other: $26,521

Stan A. Mortensen
EVP and General Counsel = $787,816
Base pay: $396,550, Bonus and non-Equity Incentive Compensation: $88,322, Stock award and option value:  $248,894  Other: $54,040

Robert Owen
EVP and Chief Financial Officer = $783,968
Base pay: $400k, Bonus and non-Equity Incentive Compensation: $89,100, Stock award and option value:  $251,059, Other: $43,809

plutocrat (Image politely borrowed from MotherSky.com)

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Gouged & Gauged

Gouge_VT Gauge_VT

Dear Diary,

I feel less pain today as my fellow educators across the globe probe my writings to inform me of mutual discoveries in our places of learning. Our roles in society as teacher, educator, professor, lecturer, tutor, instructor, counselor, guide, and mentor were once titles that commanded respect and admiration.   The current onslaught of constant vilification by the very people paid 3 – 6 times more than those of us doing actual work with and for our students gouges all of our senses. Like a superhero, we deflect every arrow, sword, bullet and bomb, simultaneously protecting both our students and our mental health as we trudge forward to our classrooms, laboratories, and lecture halls. We do not cower from the formidable attack by top administrators and government officials.

“Onward toward earning your degree!” we shout in the foggy mists.

“Keep up; you’re nearly there! Final examinations are just around the next bend!” we encourage as we haul them through the last storm of writing papers and reports, reviewing texts, performing lab experiments, researching in the libraries, connecting to the world via online links.

Meanwhile, using every means possible, we are “weighed and measured” while support systems have been removed, salaries cut, and retiring faculty not replaced.

It is time, dear Diary, to walk on a lovely Spring day and set my mind to wander.

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Diary of Working Stiff: They Call Me Teacher.

Dear Diary,

I suffer stomach pain for the 35th hour since our administration took their second pay raise this academic year. The word “beleaguered” doesn’t even begin to describe the feeling from daily occurrences manufactured from the top “executive team” down to the lowly workers:  the teachers and staff. I was beleaguered on DAY ONE of the Spring semester after a short winter break. By Day two, the word was squared and by day three, cubed.

Since 2012, the college has been besieged by outside forces wishing to knock it to the ground and trample the hearts, minds, and souls of the inhabitants. Outsiders have been brought in to “fix the college”. It’s a fix, alright. But not the kind that repairs. The outsiders have been brought in to raid the treasury of San Francisco taxpayer dollars that have poured in after an election that year and don’t have a clue how to do anything but destroy the excellent education that we have offered since 1935.

Running along the increasing speed of the treadmill, the faculty find ourselves looking like Lucy & Ethel in their job at the chocolate factory, only it’s not funny as we gorge on mind-numbing and endless paperwork that we must manufacture for the “collection of data”.  We have discovered that the more data we must produce, the more problems arise with no one up the river knowing what to do with the data, so it comes back to us. We must now also assess the data ourselves and provide data on the data, then disaggregate the data only to aggregate it again to make some sort of discovery as to how successful we are with our students (certain student groups, actually) and their ability to learn what we teach them.

The problem for me is, the better I am at capturing all of the data, the worse I become as a teacher, because now I have taken on a new job:  statistician and data wonk.  This is something I never aspired to and am honestly not very good at.  LUCKILY, we have some amazing faculty at the college (note:  faculty) who have created a way for us to simply do data entry and have a program produce the numbers. WOO HOO!  Problem there is, again, data entry takes time and we are asked to enter more data about other things well beyond the student learning.  Thus, my point on data about the data. Everything in the entire college needs to be measured and weighed with the work being placed on the already overloaded working stiff.  Yes, the teacher.

I did purposefully leave out the “a” in the title because this is not about “a working stiff” but rather working oneself to become “stiff” as in “dead”. As my colleague commented to me this morning when I told him about the title: “I’ve avoided the ‘indefinite article‘ my entire life.” (God, I love him. It’s so fun to have a good laugh with a fellow educator who also cares about our students and our work for them.)  Back to “working stiff”: it appears to be the wish of our government and the neoliberals who have taken control of the entire public education system to grind teachers into dust and repeatedly point at them in the news with lies about how little they do.  Well, get this. Did you know that Obama’s appointed Secretary of Education, Arne Duncan, isn’t even an educator?  He’s been an education administrator his entire career!  Pardon me, but if an administrator does not hail from the trenches from which they are appointed to administrate, then how the hell do they know what to do?  They have no training! One must spend time for years in the classroom before understanding the first thing about educating people. Therein lay the problem, dear Diary. This is not about the teachers.

This brings me back to the college where they call me “teacher”. We have one person in our administration who hails from faculty and has been an active educator. That person is leaving the college for reasons not made public, but those of us who teach do understand.  When you have an executive team of other administrators around you who throw crazy ideas into your daily mix without going through any due process to see if these ideas have any validity, then it forces you to consider your options.  Well, we have more people opting OUT at the end of this semester than ever before, jumping ship alongside that one qualified administrator. Who can blame any of them? Working 90(+)- hours-a-week with truckloads more requests from top administration to do more as well as keep up with their crazy notions and the shoddy work of highly-paid consultants takes a toll.  Who wants to continue that life when you have an option? But the saddest part is, dear Diary, that many don’t have an option. They have a family to feed and have mounting debts due to the fact that we have not seen a raise since 2007. In fact, we’ve had nothing but pay CUTS at our workplace in the most expensive city in the United States.  It’s emotionally unbearable to do the math to calculate what I earn per hour of work since it includes mornings, days, nights, and weekends. I still can’t keep up. The to-do list grows and grows. I believe it’s up to 19 pages in a 4-point font.

Well, Diary. I should probably go for a walk to keep myself from the first half of the title.  My head has joined in with my stomach as both commiserate in pain. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.  Thanks for listening.

data Faculty word ClusterThank you Apophenia Inc. for the word images

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Fail Your Way to the Top and Get a Raise Too!

Have you heard about the new dance craze in America?

All of the people over $150K earnings for upper administrative/management employment are shimmying and shadowing to the beat – it’s called the BEAT DOWN of those actually doing all of the work!  It’s truly amazing because the tempo is quite erratic, but they can actually dance to it.

Catch this!  The worse you are in your job in what you do and how you do it, along with  the more catastrophes you cause in the workplace, the more you earn!  Isn’t that AMAZING???  The game of Monopoly we played when we were kids was so stupidly simple.  You had to do well to make money.  But not anymore!

Only in the United States, right?  But better yet, when the bum idiot Republican in Wisconsin proved that he could attack the workers in such a way, worse than the U.S. had witnessed in decades, and STILL beat a recall election because millions of dollars were pouring in to his campaign from outside of the state to “beat down the worker”, it truly says all.  This country has fully “gone to the weeds” and the ugly rancor of corporate America has deeply embedded itself in the flag. The Stars and Stripes are a facade of the truth which does NOT set you free here.

This is no longer a “working country”. It’s a giant, fuck-all-grab-everything-in-sight kind of Game of Thrones warfare going on here. It’s a full-on cancer on the entire American mantra of “work hard, save, raise a family, be a good citizen, and repeat”.  Because it’s impossible to do that in light of the top tier taking all of the raises, all of the mother lode while providing ZIPPO, NADA. They don’t even provide solid LEADERship!  They suck at THAT too!

Here’s a good one for you on a smaller but truly huge scale: the commission that accredits the Community Colleges of California employs people in their leadership who were once thrown out of their colleges by faculty and staff in a vote of “no confidence”.  Makes one wonder: how did these people get to move UP to the position of accrediting all community colleges in California when their own district where they once had a job as “President” or Chancellor or what have you actually let them go?  Who the hell knows?  But what we know and live and breathe every day in my workplace is that they have had their talons in our college for over a decade. They have an axe to grind.  We are a huge community college and like any business or large institution, there have been problems.  Nothing to stop us from doing the best work of the entire state mind you.  Our students rank among the highest.

Three years ago when an “inside job” created an opening to a crazy and nefarious accrediting decision to the college of “Show Cause”.  This “decision” translates to “why should we keep you open?”. At this point, we were delivered a series of “administrators” to take over, run the college, and “turn it around”.  They have done nothing more than run it into the ground hook, line, and sinker. We have been struggling with a huge lack of air while working ourselves into a frenzy to keep the place alive and open to our 70,000 credit and noncredit students.  The more we work, the more they seem to undermine our efforts hiring consultants to the tune of millions and a video marketing firm from guess where?   WISCONSIN!  Imagine that!

Best yet, many of them hail from the Lone Star State which has been infiltrating California by the truckloads lately.  Manifest Destiny has been picked up again, but now it’s a push to buy in and push OUT anyone who thinks differently than the body snatchers.  Progressive SF, take heed.  Who is buying your property?

So, tonight, I write this because after an attempt to deny faculty a pay raise on a pre-2007 salary that has been cut twice, the upper-level administrators just allowed themselves a pay raise that was passed by our Board of Trustees. (Well, actually one Super Trustee who is the current Czar of the board.  They have no voting power…circle back to Wisconsin, Scott Walker, et al).

LotL Fail Your Way to the Top_

Manifest Destiny:  Historian Frederick Merk: this concept was born out of “A sense of mission to redeem the Old World by high example…generated by the potentialities of a new earth for building a new heaven”.

Texans in California building a “new heaven”.  Mark my words…

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If you could ask a citizen of Europe…

What would you want to know about the life they live with free healthcare and education?  What questions would you ask if you traveled there and wished to capture the most amazing part of the world that asks not a penny from you to educate you and to provide you, a citizen, a chance to have your health cared for and catered to?

I have plenty of questions that I plan to ask the people in the libraries, the museums, and later, the pubs…the artists on the streets and in the galleries…the musicians in the clubs and the conservatories. What do YOU want to know?  I’m capturing everything I can find to report back to us…the “us” living in this vapid existence imbued with the worst capitalistic greed that has spread its talons to all aspects of our government, schools, hospitals, places that should be our domains of solace and safety.

I’m on a citizen-of-the-world mission to find the most civic-minded places that exist on earth.  What defines “civic-minded” you might ask?  It’s truly simple and one idea that America no longer comprehends because it doesn’t fit into a McDonald’s, Disney, Alcoa advertisement.   “Civic-minded” is an adjective and means:

Concerned with civic interests or active in community affairs.
Send your questions to danaj33@gmail.com.  I’ll record the answers for you…
 
Healthcare Stats  See who is not even IN THE RANKINGS HERE.
 
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Predicate Mediocrity

Dana Jae’s NEXTworld Blog #222

America, overwhelmed by the globalization titans, forges ahead. Her citizens are lost in the daily ritual of wash, rinse, repeat. The re-spinning of Warren G. Harding’s vapid proclamation of a “return to normalcy”, thwarts the political process. Harding frequently used the term “bloviate” which is about to fall upon us again as we witness the line up of idiot Repugnicans who wish to preside over this once decent nation. Since the Bush dynasty took hold, it has become a national tragedy, in my opinion, to watch and listen to these narrow-minded, uncharitable marionettes spew the hateful verbiage of the Plutocrats.  So, here we go into another election-cycle media debacle.

Some suggested reading and viewing before the false fanfare begins:  Bill Moyers’ March 25, 2015 article: “Is a New Political System Emerging in This Country?” is an excellent introduction followed by a viewing of the film by the great educator and statesman Robert Reich. “Inequality For All” is now available on Netflix and is a must-see for every American. Couple that with a second feature “Citizen Koch” and  your family viewing will be complete.  I watched both last night. They helped to connect my personal work space issues with those of the rest of the nation. Even dyed-in-the-wool, old-school Republicans (if you watch “Citizen Koch”) believe that their party has been usurped by those empowered by “Tea”.  These are the Americans who typify the zombie-like quality of a mediocre mind that can no longer distinguish personal reality from repeated words advertised to them or from bloviation from Rush Limbaugh and his media ilk. [Disheartening side note: the end of the “Citizen Koch” film credits reveal that it was originally slated for PBS but was pulled before its run due to David Koch’s affiliation with PBS.]

A predicate mediocrity overwhelms the mind, heart, and soul.

Inequality For All_2 Inequality For All 3

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