An Open Letter to the Faculty of the City Colleges of Chicago
Many of you have expressed concerns about the anonymous nature of the recent email correspondence regarding the state of the City Colleges of Chicago. Many have asked, “Who are you?” While it’s not about me I will share this much. I am a professional educator. I am committed to the success of my students and the integrity of my college. Currently I do not enjoy the benefits and safety of tenure. To reveal my identity will certainly result in contract non-renewal and subsequent termination.
Again, it’s not about me, it’s about the truth. The truth about the Reinvention, the truth about the fiscal mismanagement that is being allowed by the City Colleges of Chicago Board of Trustees, the truth about those being empowered to make decisions for 120,000 students and 5800 faculty and staff when they have no educational credentials, have never been in the front of a classroom, and have no clue about the uniqueness of the seven colleges that make up the City Colleges of Chicago.
Perry Buckley claims that these are not union issues; that contract rights have not been violated and he is correct. It’s not about our contract right now, it’s about the integrity of our district and the decisions that are being made to strip our campuses of any autonomy and decision making while simultaneously holding us all accountable for student outcomes. If Perry Buckley thinks that lack of integrity and ill-informed decision making are not worthy of the faculty addressing-shame on him!
Colleagues Please Focus on the Facts
The Chancellor has made a ‘Case for Change” stating that we (the faculty) are only retaining 50% of our first year students and that we (the faculty) are only graduating 7% of our students. The data used to make this case was clearly flawed; we sat back and accepted it. The Chancellor, who has no educational credentials, now says “We must reinvent ourselves”. Thus the reinvention initiative. Well here is the truth about the reinvention:
1. The Reinvention Vision
a. The vision was developed by Best Practices Training Associates, Nile W. Gossett. Mr. Gossett worked with the Chancellor and her teams to craft, write and publish HER vision for reinventing the City Colleges of Chicago. This consulting firm is also responsible for creating, planning and writing the Chancellor’s ongoing messages regarding her vision and plan. The total cost for this consulting agency, $54,000. (July 14, 2010 Board Report # 30442) Has anyone ever seen the “Case for Change” that lead to the Chancellor hiring this outside firm to write her vision? At our college the President did a presentation on the “case” but to my knowledge none of our faculty received hard copies of the case for change or the data used to support it.
b. To assist in articulating her vision, the Board of Trustees approved contracting the services of NP Communications, LLC (NPC) and Marj Halperin Consulting. These consulting firms provide executive coaching, strategic consultation to the Chancellor and senior staff, external communications, internal communications and team building. The total cost for these consulting agencies, $112,800. (July 14, 2010 Board Report # 30441)
2. Branding & Marketing
a. No business model is complete without branding and marketing. To accomplish this the CCC Board of Trustees approved the contracting of branding and marketing services from the LimeGeen Entertainment Group LLC and the Flowers Communication Group. These consulting firms are charged with marketing and branding services for the “Centennial Milestone Celebration”. The total cost for these consulting agencies, $500,000. (September 8, 2010 Board Report #30567) These firms have an option to extend their contract for three additional years.
3. Reinvention Technology Support (at the District Office)
a. To provide technical support for the work of the reinvention teams on the newly remodeled six floor of the District Office (the reinvention floor), the Board of Trustees approved the contracting of ongoing I.T. support services from 17 different vendors. The total cost for these vendors, $500,000. (December 2, 2010 Board Report # 30774)
4. CCC Program Offerings
The Chancellor recommended and the CCC Board of Trustees approved McKinsey & Company of Washington DC to come in and provide an analysis and recommendations for a District-wide Program Portfolio Review and to “train the reinvention task force leaders on key skills core to the reinvention process.” In addition to determining if our programs are worthy to continue being offered McKinsey & Company will do the following at a total cost of $500,000 (January 12, 2011 Board Report # 30853)
a. Identify key areas for improvement across programs
b. Review workforce demand based on available knowledge
c. Support CCC in drafting future-state program recommendations
d. Design workshops for reinvention project team leads and task force members
e. Conduct workshop sessions enhancing both task force lead and member capabilities, reinforcing learning with hands-on work applicable to task force efforts
Colleagues, why should we be supportive of a consulting firm from Washington DC planning our programs? What happened to our local Committee A? What happened to the evaluation of programs and courses created by faculty and approved by our own faculty committees? While there are faculty members sprinkled amongst the task forces, ultimately the decisions made about our programs and our curriculum will be made by an outside consulting firm. With all the money that has been spent on the reinvention thus far, consider the following: How many professional development conferences for faculty could have been paid for? Instead the focus is professional development opportunities for reinvention task force leaders and team members.
How much technology could have been added to our classrooms? Instead the focus is on ensuring adequate technical support for the 6th floor of the District Office. How many academic advisors could have been hired with $500,000? Instead the focus is on allowing someone else to inform us about the worth of our programs.
Have you discovered like I have that in order to purchase the most basic of supplies for our classrooms, scan tron sheets, copy paper and ink, we are now required to write a statement justifying why we need these supplies? Then we must wait for a Vice Chancellor at the District Office to sign off and approve the purchase of the supplies, and then we wait for the supplies to be ordered.
Because this is not directly tied to our collective bargaining agreement Mr. Perry Buckley feels we should be silent? I don’t think so, and my hope is that you don’t think so either. Some may suggest that shared governance is the answer. How can we share governance with individuals who have no clue about what we do on a daily basis in our classrooms? Corporations do not have shared governance and Chancellor Cheryl Hyman is attempting (with little resistance from the CCC Board of Trustees) to “reinvent” the City Colleges of Chicago into a World Class Business Model. Will we stand by and watch this happen? Again, it’s not about me, it’s not our Presidents, it’s not even about “U”, it’s about 120,000 students who deserve our best.
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