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Consider this:

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
Albert Einstein


Academic Insanity: delivering the same reading lessons over and over and expecting different results.
La Vergne Rosow

Rosow report on the State Academic Senate Spring Plenary Session, April 2007

NOTE: With the sharp knife of DAS Editor Deborah Kaye and the politically astute sensitivities of LACCD DAS President Leon Marzillier, this report was whittled down to a printable length for the DAS newsletter. Those interested in showing an authentic editing process may want this copy to compare to the published edition. You have my permission.

Consult, Confront, Collaborate???

That was the theme of the 2007 Spring Session of the California Community Colleges Academic Senate. The event took place at the Westin San Francisco, where a view of the bay was soon forgotten as attendees rose for meetings that began before 8:00am, raced from one information-intensive presentation to another, finally ending late in the night at dinners laced with lively discussions about life in school.

As his long and lively term of office drew to a close, State Senate President Ian Walton acknowledged that there has been a need for us, the academic branch of the two year higher education system, to swing wide and hard at those who move in ignorance or in greed to effect changes that have a negative impact on our students. That said, however, it is becoming time to attempt more collaboration, albeit with an eye to educating the policy makers who still too often fail to seek out the wisdom the academic senate is ready to convey. That wisdom is of the kind already shared among the faculty senate.

The purpose of the spring session is to bring together players from diverse perspectives in a forum that will allow the airing of ideas and expressions of hope and concern in ways the rest can comprehend. Delegates who arrive well-armed with one position frequently vote with a sense of compromise and understanding that the implications of a single resolution may effect unanticipated changes in unseen areas of our system. So it was that resolutions hotly debated in Area meetings (ours is Area C) and rewritten with the sharpest pen and finest wit the Area can muster may be revised in the night on days one and two of the Spring Session. Sometimes, the author, seeing a need for extensive rethinking, will withdraw a resolutions entirely. Occasionally, the author may actually agree that the proposed gem of revolutionary innovation, offered up on Thursday, should be voted down on Saturday. (It ain’t over until the voting ends on Saturday.)

Here in the Los Angeles Community College District (coined in one session The Mother of all Community College Districts by our own President Leon Marzillier) there have been several events that wove smoothly into the events of this Spring Session.

Thanks to the generosity of Chancellor Rocky Young, our District Academic Senate has been able to provide symposiums on Academic Integrity and Student Success this spring:

On February 23, at Los Angeles Valley College, the DAS Academic Integrity Task Force, co-chaired by Leon Marzillier and Jasmin Delahoussaye, presented “The Proliferation of Cheating and Plagiarism”, a symposium that featured multiple perspectives on integrity. Organized by Daryl Kinney of LA City College, attendees heard a keynote address by Professor Jeannie Wilson of UC Davis, who gave a range of statistics-based insights into systemic issues facing today’s academics in her keynote address “Creating a Climate of Academic Integrity.” Other speakers included Scott Weigand of the LAVC Writing Center addressing student rights, Pam Brown, Economics at Pierce revealing cheating from iPods to ear buds, and La Vergne Rosow, LAVC English Department and DAS VP, who spoke to the influence of faculty modeling on student integrity. In the spirit of inclusion found in the AB 1725 Shared Governance philosophy, there was both lively audience participation and a survey of faculty, audience perceptions (more on this in a future article).

Under the title “Capturing Student Success”, on April 13, at LATTC, following up on her fall introduction of the innovative student success programs at LaGuardia Community College, Director of Curriculum and Assessment, Dr. Cecilia Macheski and colleagues, brought yet another round of ideas to the LACCD door. Faculty, administrators, students, and staff discovered ways of integrating the curriculum that are commonplace in New York.

These LACCD events informed both the Area C meeting and the State Senate resolutions.

Over and over, it came to the attention of the Area C colleges that there are many very small districts that cannot address curriculum and hiring in the ways that we do. They have at once more freedom to move and fewer dollars with which to travel (figuratively speaking).

At the forefront of the dialogues were the following truisms that are essential to student outcomes, regardless of district size:

--The local faculty assign courses to disciplines. When faculty understand that how courses are assigned—at the outset, before going to the Curriculum Committee—will impact who may teach the class for the duration of that course’s time in the catalogue, placement may be in favor of sharing a single course between or among disciplines. This can be done. But, it takes planning, time, and cooperation.

--Integrated curriculum is not only possible, it is good pedagogy. The experimental cross listing of courses, team teaching, and the like will best serve our students and will facilitate hiring as we adopt more open attitudes about disciplines. It was noted that, for example, elementary level ESL students are well-served by ESL courses that offer academic content; students who were academics in the first language expect college to be enriching. Consider, for example, a language or literacy lesson that addresses both a student’s need to talk about health and to learn the bones of the human body for a future nursing program.

--Vocational Education aka Occupational Education is finding a renaissance in the community college arena. There is more funding for vocational programs. Consequently, more legislation is coming. Obvious to those who are watching the funding lines is the fact that faculty have not been consulted for the mandates attached to the new money. A resolution was passed to require faculty representatives on committees such as EWDPAC (Economic Workforce Development Program Advisory Committee) Executive Sub-Committee.

--Basic Skills deserve more attention than they have gotten from the community college in the past. Not only do we need to address the “skills” required to be successful in traditional academic classes, we need to address the vehicles for delivery. For example, workshops offered without credit on a Saturday night, when the target audience is free to attend, may serve that population far better than credit courses scheduled to fit a traditional grid. A resolution to study student equity in basic skills programming passed.

--Non-credit continues to hold promises that the LACCD has yet to pursue. As a large district, we have the luxury of allowing experimentation on the various campuses, without having to share in the risks. If a program proves effective, we can simply copy and paste the course outlines for our own use—no further sunshining required.

--Single instructors with multiple Minimum Qualifications may eventually be the norm. Giving thought to future needs before hiring full-time faculty can allow our disciplines to overlap in more fluid ways.

--Use of e-texts and other materials that are less expensive than the traditional textbooks and workbooks makes economic sense, considering the number of students who come to us for economic reasons. This notion was passed as a resolution this session, but continues to be a topic that must be addressed as we articulate with those universities that seek to place restrictions on the titles shown in the community college course outlines. This is, hopefully, about collaboration with the universities that take a percentage of our students in transfer.

--Lower Division Transfer is an area of much consternation. There is widespread concern that inconsistencies among the CSUs, perhaps in violation of the LDTP (Lower Division Transfer Program) and a resolution giving vent to the rancor felt by many was submitted. Yet, it should also be noted that, because there is some rather sensitive negotiation in process. With that in mind, there were recommendations that the resolution be withdrawn, be reworded into softer language, or be delayed until the fall session. What seems most appropriate to you?

--The need for faculty who represent the Senate as a body in Accreditation Teams came up several times. A resolution to at once request training of the ACCJC teams and to include appropriate faculty was passed.

As of this writing, the full set of resolutions was not online, but it is sure to be forthcoming. For more detail, check in at the State Senate website:

Three days is hardly enough time to cover all topics in depth. Even as the die-hards sat through the final hours of deliberations, it was clear that many issues would be revisited next fall. Our constituencies are many and our partners in success extend over venues that look to finance and political clout long before student success is considered. Still, we are all stake holders. Though there will continue to be issues we must confront head-on, the notion of consultation and collaboration remain the civil and hopefully more productive route for professional interactions of the near and distant future.

La Vergne Rosow, Vice President
District Academic Senate

UNICEF and United Nations lose an Orange County, California stronghold

The volunteer board will step aside as a commercial enterprise walks into United Nations concession. Will the Human Rights Priority be found at Hallmark Cards?

UN Shop Closing Crew - On January 13, 2007, the United Nations gift shop in Santa Ana, California, closed its doors.

Shown here are Mary White, Pat Mogan, Eleanor Chapman, Jean Gill, and Ruth Leger, who have volunteered thousands of hours over the years.

It is unclear how students will get information about worldwide human rights issues and materials for international study projects traditionally provided at minimal cost through the volunteer-run store.

Teachers, such as myself, turned to this store for educational materials and gift books with international insights.

Reasonably-priced, hand-crafted gift-items from all over the world and posters about children's rights provided international links to unseen cultures, offered exposure to artists in isolated environments, and gave support to children in need.

Pat Mogan, long-time UNICEF and United Nations shop buyer, waves farewell.

The following is a report of highlights of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators 2006 conference in Los Angeles.

If you want to know more about these topics or other aspects of the event e-mail me at
by clicking on the link to
La Vergne Rosow
on the lower
far right hand side of this page.

Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI)
Annual Conference – Friday, August 4 – Monday, August 7, 2006
Hyatt Regency Century Plaza, Los Angeles, California
La Vergne Rosow, Participant

Anyone who writes anything or wants to write would benefit from the SCBWI annual conference, inconveniently located in the heart of Los Angeles each summer.

The conference ran smoothly again this year, though the void created by the absence of Paula Danziger continues. Many of the leading authors and illustrators of young adult and children’s literature came to share how they handle their craft. Likewise, editors, publishers, agents, and others related to the industry filled sessions and provided insights one could not have found in any other venue.

Typically, I have arrived on the Thursday night prior to the start of the conference, but was not able to secure a room for that night this time. I would strongly recommend that anyone attending make a very early reservation and to stay at the hotel. The sessions start early and end late and there are informal gatherings even earlier and later.

There is far too much of value to detail all that appears in my two full journals. I will be more than delighted to share insights with anyone who is interested and will give a quick overview at the first Los Angeles Valley College English Department meeting. Further, I will provide copies of this report to interested colleagues and will post it on my website.

Mark McVeigh, editor, spoke of the need to be simple and to the point in query letters. Too often, he said, slush pile occupants attempt to cover deficient writing with decorative envelopes.

Jacqueline Woodson, Newbery Honor Award winner, among many other awards, gave the first keynote and spoke of not giving up.

Mo Willems, author/illustrator, whose debut picture book won a Caldecott honor, said that keeping the story (and pictures) so simple a child could do it was essential. He then proceeded to give the entire audience an on-the-spot art lesson on drawing his main character.

Beverly Horowitz, editor, said that, even though things are changing every minute, some things are universal and never change. That something universal is what makes a book “the book that changed my life.” She pointed out that in America 100% of all books are bought by the same 20% of the people. She also said, “Book reports haven’t changed. They are a secret weapon to teach about genre.”

Sid and Paul Fleischman, father and son Newbery Award Winners, shared one session. From that came the following: Everything is biography. Everything is recurring themes. Sid organizes his research in spiral notebooks with Post-its. Paul uses the Internet even for current topics, such as the color of the carpet in the Oregon airport. Sid said that Paul was never taught to write, that his first fiction was a fully developed work. Paul said that, at its completion, Sid would always read his books out loud and that was how he (Paul) learned to write.

Caroline Cooney, author of over 75 books including The Face on the Milk Carton, said that her inspiration comes from life. At the La Guardia airport, she was stunned by homemade posters for a 3-year-old child who had been missing 15 years. She got onto her plane weeping. In a second session, she gave a writing workshop, assigning a one-sentence setting, then main character, then event, etc. When an audience member asked her to repeat the sequence, she couldn’t. She had made it up as she went along, but every person in the packed room had the start of a suspense novel. Her advice: “Don’t write down to your audience.”

Russell Freedman, multiple Newbery Award winner, spends as much time on his research as he does on writing his books. He reads books on his topics and then writes what he remembers. He visits places to see details. In the same session, Sid Fleischman admonished that “You must get the facts straight.” Names, flora and fauna, clothes are critical details that must be accurate. Yet Fleischman enjoys accidental discoveries during his research and gets ideas for his fiction from them. Both authors agreed that sometimes you will find conflicting facts on a topic and must invent a way of giving as much as appears true from them. Fleischman said sometimes editors are wrong. Freedman said women lie about age. Fleischman, who is researching Mark Twain, said, “You can’t trust a subject.”

Jodi Reamer, agent, looks for engaging characters, strong voice, specialness, and she admonishes the author to “Show, don’t tell.”