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Academic Senate Newsletter

Wednesday August 11, 2010

Hello Local Senates

Although the temperature in Sacramento has been mild, the same cannot be said of legislation. I’ll begin by providing you with an up-to-the-minute update about SB 1440, and then summarize other activities of the Academic Senate.

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SB 1440 (Padilla): Transfer Degrees

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You will recall that the Academic Senate reversed its previous opposition to “transfer degrees” when Resolution 4.03 was passed at Spring session. Our position now is to support SB 1440 if it is permissive rather than mandatory. While we have repeatedly argued for that position, it is clear now that the bill will mandate that colleges offer transfer degrees with requirements including these: either CSU GE or IGETC, at least 18 units in a major or area of emphasis, 60 transferable units and no additional local requirements. While we cannot officially support the mandatory aspect, according to Resolution 4.03 we do embrace the principles of the bill, especially because it provides a guarantee for our students, and it promises to stimulate degree attainment. We have closely monitored the bill every step of the way and worked with FACCC and the Chancellor’s Office to ensure the best outcome for students. Once the bill is passed, the Chancellor will convene an implementation group, and of course we will ensure that faculty are major participants.

This week, changes in the bill caused a huge uproar. Scott Lay, CEO/President of the Community College League of California (CCLC), summarized the situation this way in his newsletter to CEOs on August 10, 2010,

"Because the bill mandates local community colleges to develop and offer these degrees, it falls under the California State Constitution's clause that requires the state to reimburse colleges for any associated cost. While we believe the costs to our colleges are absorbable and waiting until the state has additional money is unacceptable, the legislation was recently amended to tie receipt of state apportionment funds to the local adoption of transfer degrees. We believe this sets a bad precedent and could be used in the future to impose more costly and less educationally critical mandates. Therefore, we are working with the Chancellor's Office to get all college districts to sign a waiver that opts out of the mandate claim process for the requirements for the bill. If we can get seventy-two district waivers, we are fairly certain that we can get the apportionment language removed from the bill. We first asked district CEOs to sign the waiver forms yesterday afternoon, and we have 24 of the 72 already returned. We just left a meeting in the governor's office, and we have agreed to measure our success by this Friday at noon.”

Senate presidents might want to speak to their Chancellor/Superintendent immediately about your district’s position. CCLC suggests that this action might be the only hope to remove the apportionment language from the bill.

We will provide you with more information in the coming months, but know that the Academic Senate intends to convene discipline groups of CSU, UC and CCC faculty immediately—to begin a task laid out in Resolution 4.03 S10: To “work with the academic senates of the California State University and the University of California to identify common major preparation pathways to simplify student course planning and to inform community college development of degrees designed for transfer.” This legislation provides an opportunity for intersegmental discipline faculty to determine the best common preparation, and we believe that the Academic Senate must lead the way. In addition, these discipline groups can be a logical companion to the work we are leading with C-ID.

Please note that the mandate in SB 1440 to have these degrees does not take away from our ability to offer the array of other degrees we have always offered. This is the addition of a new kind of degree.

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Prerequisites Status

As you know, the Academic Senate has been working on implementation of resolutions regarding prerequisites and content review (see 9.02 S09 and 9.05 F09). The Senate made presentations to the Board of Governors in May and July. There has been considerable interest in the topic and members of the Board of Governors (BoG) have indicated a need for further discussion of prerequisites, especially regarding the potential impact of any change on student enrollment patterns and how colleges will continue to meet the needs of students at all levels of preparation. Members of the Executive Committee are working on documentation that will further inform BoG members and provide guidance to local colleges seeking to prepare itself for the changes we hope to effect. We will keep you informed of progress on this topic via the President’s Update and the Rostrum.

Faculty should bear in mind that they do not need to wait for a Title 5 change where local documentation already indicates that students are unlikely to be successful in a course without the preparation that appropriate prerequisites might provide. The Senate’s Curriculum Committee and the Chancellor’s Office continuing Implementation Committee will provide you with resources in the coming months.

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Amicus brief in support of Saddleback faculty

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The Academic Senate was asked to submit an amicus brief (“friend of the court” statement) supporting a lawsuit that was filed by faculty and students at Saddleback College last fall. The suit concerned the inclusion of prayers at an array of college events. The Academic Senate’s decision to file the brief was based on our commitment to diversity, including religious diversity, and on past resolutions including 13.06 F06 which in part said,

“Whereas, The Academic Senate respects the right of the individual to determine whether, how, when, and what to worship, and we believe that this right is violated by the inclusion of a religious invocation in public college events;

Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges oppose the inclusion of a religious invocation in any public college event at which faculty, staff, or students are in, or might reasonably be expected to be in, attendance; and

Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges accept the inclusion of a moment of silence if so desired in any such event.

The Faculty Association for California Community Colleges (FACCC) joined with the Academic Senate in the amicus brief, lending the weight of both of our organizations.

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Academic Senate Committees

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The Executive Committee will meet the second weekend of August and among other things will identify members for its standing committees. Thank you to the many faculty members who have volunteered to serve. You can find information about the committees including the chairs and members on our website in September.

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Upcoming Activities

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The Academic Senate has been invited to participate in Flex Days at several colleges this fall. In addition, the Chancellor’s Circle luncheons provide a chance for senate presidents to gather regionally. I attend as many of those events as my schedule permits and always look forward to the chance to meet with small groups of senate leaders. I look forward to seeing you, if your college is on the circuit of visits this year.

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In Closing

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While summer is drawing to an end, I look forward to my annual trek to the Telluride Film Festival over Labor Day. Seeing 12-14 films is a great diversion from the challenges of this position!

Best wishes as you ramp up for your fall term.


Jane Patton, President
Academic Senate for California Community Colleges

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