September 2019 Advocate: Votes of no confidence in CCC Chancellor


CFT and FACCC express no confidence in California Community College Chancellor over his support for performance-based funding and corporate online college

Last May 3, the Executive Council of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT), approved a resolution of no confidence in California Community College Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley for his efforts to corporatize community colleges and exclude faculty from decision making. Of particular concern were the Chancellor’s support of the launch of a new online-only community college (now called “Calbright”) and the establishment of a new statewide “Student-Centered” Funding Formula that will give extra state money to community colleges that achieve better track records in graduation and transfer rates.

On May 22nd thousands of educators, students, and allies from around the state rallied in Sacramento for a Day of Action in support of public education at the state capitol. During the Day of Action, hundreds of community college educators and students marched to the state Community College Chancellor’s office to deliver the no confidence message in person. Jennifer Shanoski, President of the Peralta Federation of Teachers, explained the message to the crowd. Her statement is presented below.

In May, the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges (FACCC), a statewide lobby and policy group that advocates for California community college faculty, also took a position of no confidence in Oakley’s administration for the same basic reasons. An explanation of FACCC’s position follows Shanoski’s statement.

Jennifer Shanoski, speaking on May 22nd:

My name is Jennifer Shanoski [in photo at left] and I am President of the Peralta Federation of Teachers – the union that represents some 1,100 faculty at the four Peralta community colleges. I have come to Sacramento today to stand with other educators, students and community members to demand that the state of California do what’s right and fully fund our public education and stop the move towards more privatization.

The California Community Colleges are the workhorses of our educational system. We serve more than three times the number of students that the UC and CSU systems serve combined. We serve the most diverse population of students. And we serve our students at the lowest cost of any public education system in the state.

Despite the fact that we are a lifeline for communities across the state, our colleges are chronically underfunded.

More and more, our classes are taught by part-time faculty who are not afforded the job security, wages, and benefits of their full-time counterparts.

And faculty spend too much time chasing grant dollars and scrambling to meet the requirements of unfunded mandates, rather than teaching actual classes or helping students.

But it gets worse. Last year Chancellor Oakley and Governor Brown decided to push forward a fully online-only community college despite broad opposition. It is being headed by an education technology entrepreneur. It is being staffed by a consultant paid $500k to get the school up and running by fall. It is not required to adhere to any collective bargaining agreement – the only such community college in the state of California.

This online college is OUR charter school

This online college does not represent choice or access – it represents a way for “education reformers” to move from the K-12 system on to community colleges. It will syphon money away from our existing colleges and as it does, the students who will be left behind are those who are most vulnerable and who need us most.

Today we delivered a vote of no confidence in our Chancellor Oakley. We have no confidence in his ability to run the California Community Colleges because of his lack of consultation, continued actions in opposition to local senates, and his willingness to take this first step towards privatization.

We demand that public education remain in the public sphere, not in private hands, and that faculty, staff, and students are central to the decision-making process as we move forward.

We demand that our community colleges and the students we serve are protected and invested in. And we won’t back down until our demands are met!

FACCC Board of Governors August 24th statement:

Chancellor’s Office development and support of a funding formula with a performance-based component over the opposition of faculty and other key stakeholders

Without sufficient collaboration and against significant legislative opposition, the Chancellor’s Office actively lobbied for the “Student-Centered” Funding Formula (SCFF) to become law. The main proponents of the new formula were not institutionally recognized system stakeholders. Besides being poorly constructed, the SCFF will damage our system if continued in its current form. This formula contains funding based on student outcomes, similar to No Child Left Behind, even though a decade of research shows that this model does not help students. Performance-based funding does not lead to increased student success but rather, leads to the gaming of the system and the exclusion of students less likely to succeed. The adoption of the new formula contradicts the civically responsive, open-access mission of our system. Further, the SCFF prioritizes monetary rewards for Associate Degrees for Transfer (ADTs) over UC transfers, local degrees, and career technical certificates and degrees, valuing certain educational goals over others. Having participated in discussions and advocacy during the construction of the prior two funding formulas (Program-Based Funding and the Per-Student Equalization Model), FACCC was shocked by the unilateral and rushed nature of how the current formula was constructed and how little to no opportunity was made available to collectively analyze data and impact to our districts. FACCC is concerned that the current formula will do little to move the system forward as it pits districts against each other and creates unhealthy competition for students deemed financially worthy by the system. Remarkably, despite the continued concerns of system stakeholders and legislators, the Chancellor’s Office continues its support of the formula.

Chancellor’s Office development and support of a fully online college that now has a perpetual conflict of interest with our existing 114 colleges

Last year, the Chancellor’s Office developed the proposal for a separate online college, rejecting the advice of the Academic Senate and others to consider an expansion of the existing and successful Online Education Initiative (OEI). With an initial cost of $120 million, the online college, now called Calbright, is legislatively prohibited from offering programs that compete with our current institutions. Nonetheless, the first three planned programs—Medical Coding, IT support, and Cybersecurity— are currently offered at multiple colleges. While the Chancellor’s Office argues that the programs will be different because they will be competency-based, competency-based education already exists through noncredit education. Regardless of course structure and evaluation methods, the curriculum, outcomes, and intent of these programs duplicate existing programs. FACCC argued that instead of attracting nontraditional students into our system, this new entity will create stranded students needing more than the online platform can provide. Equally important is that Calbright requires an extraordinary commitment of dollars that should be invested in students and programs at existing, accredited colleges. FACCC, the Academic Senate, and other system partners have communicated these concerns to both the Chancellor’s Office and the legislature. While the Assembly Budget Committee agreed that resources from Calbright could be better allocated for student services and faculty support, the Chancellor’s Office dedicated its political capital to ensure the full funding of the college.

Prioritizing the agendas of external foundations and education reform groups over the expertise of system stakeholders

This Chancellor’s Office has been marked by a continuous adoption of the problematic agenda of particular foundations, which includes the failing policies of performance-based funding and divestment from faculty. FACCC continues to express its concerns regarding the influence of these external entities over recognized system stakeholders.

Use of the Foundation for California Community Colleges as a means to hire lobbyists and public relations firms

While the Foundation for California Community Colleges exists to support the system in important operational endeavors, it had not, in any recent memory, been used for political advocacy. Much of the online college’s and funding formula’s advocacy was financed by the foundation while these ideas were mere concepts. Specifically, the foundation hired lobbyists and public relations firms to advocate for the legislative agenda of the Chancellor’s Office. In a clear break with precedent, the Foundation’s resources were used in an inappropriate political manner, which opens the door to possible misappropriation of funds in the future.

Tying financial aid to Guided Pathways

When the Chancellor’s Office-sponsored Guided Pathways initiative was introduced in 2017, local faculty input regarding the decision to participate in the initiative was to be assured via a local academic senate sign-off. While that practice was technically employed, the Chancellor’s Office successfully advocated to ensure AB19 funds—those designed for first-year free community college—were only granted to those districts that accepted the Guided Pathways funds. This requirement was inconsistent with the spirit of Guided Pathways and interfered with local decision-making around Guided Pathways.

Moving Forward

Since the vote of no confidence, FACCC leadership has met twice with the chancellor and his staff and has engaged in meetings convened by the Chancellor’s Office and stakeholder groups. However, we remain concerned about the dynamics that produced the above problems until we see concrete and clear progress. In order to move the system forward in a positive manner, the Chancellor’s Office will need to do the following: 1) consult collegially and authentically with faculty leadership and system stakeholders adhering to the participatory governance mandate codified in Education Code and Title 5; 2) prioritize the mission of the California Community Colleges and input of system stakeholders over the agendas of external foundations and education reform groups; and 3) seek and deploy accurate data, impact analyses, and collegial decision-making processes when proposing changes to systemwide structures such as funding models and the creation of new colleges.