Monday, July 26, 2010

A threat and call for therapy

Outgoing Delta College president blasts trustees
By The Record
July 25, 2010 12:01 AM

The warning, and that might be the kindest way to characterize it, from outgoing Delta College President Raul Rodriguez would have been almost comical had he not been so serious.

"I have rights as an employee," Rodriguez lectured the college board. "Those rights are not to be violated. They have been in the past. I will no longer be employed by this district. If my rights are violated, you can bet I will take action in the future."

And with that, off goes Rodriguez to become the superintendent of the Rancho Santiago Community College District in Orange County, the state's third largest.

The Rodriguez warning - some might describe it as a threat - came as three board members publicly acknowledged that they are the ones the county grand jury was referring to in a report last month accusing some trustees of conducting "serial meetings" in violation of the state's open meetings law.

Trustees Mary Ann Cox, Ted Simas and Taj Khan made the admissions, but did not admit any violations of the Ralph M. Brown Act, which sets out the rules for conducting the board's business in public.

The specific Brown Act violation - although there have been any number of allegations the law has been violated time and again over the years by Delta trustees - involved an incident in the spring of 2009. Trustee Jennet Stebbins claims she was contacted by Cox about ousting Rodriguez, and that Khan and Simas also had been contacted. Assuming it happened, nothing came of it. But we know Rodriguez has been job-hunting for months.

Rodriguez is concerned about a closed door meeting June 1 to evaluate him. He said the evaluation went well, but he's entitled to privacy guaranteed any district employee in personnel matters.

Simas had waved a tape recorder, implying the June 1 session had been taped. It hadn't, he said.

Rodriguez suggested that trustees not only needed additional training on the open meetings law, but he also recommended they undergo conflict resolution therapy.

"Given the discussion that happened tonight, it's very discouraging," he told them. It's more than discouraging. It's disgusting.

Delta trustees are responsible for setting the policies for a district that sprawls across parts of seven counties, employs hundreds, educates thousands and spends millions of tax dollars. The least we should be able to expect is that they scrupulously obey the law - including the Brown Act - and that they conduct their public business in a mature, calm and reasoned manner.

Board meetings aren't some sort of fight club any more than board service should be viewed as a country club membership.

Delta College is one of the most important educational institutions in this area.

Its success is intricately tied to the economic and social success of our region.

Trustees are about to hire a new president. It is imperative they make a good choice. They can't do that if they're fighting among themselves; they can't expect any high-qualified candidate to accept the position if it's offered by a board clearly in need of therapy.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Board Censured.

Grand Jury Report.

Jury suggests censure for 3 Delta trustees

By Jennifer Torres
Record Staff Writer
June 29, 2010 12:00 AM

STOCKTON — Three members of the San Joaquin Delta College Board of Trustees should be censured for violating the state’s open-meetings law, the county grand jury recommended in a report released Monday.

The trustees — identified in the report only as Trustees A, B and C — knowingly participated in a serial meeting, discussing public business outside of public view, in violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act, the report concludes. Two of the trustees also disclosed confidential information even after fellow board members tried to prevent them from doing so.

In October, Trustee Jennet Stebbins told The Record that several months earlier, she met Trustee Mary Ann Cox — at Cox’s request — at a doughnut shop, where Cox asked for Stebbins’ vote in a bid to oust Delta President Raul Rodriguez. According to Stebbins’ account, Cox told her she already had discussed the matter with trustees Taj Khan and Ted Simas.

Simas, Khan and Cox at the time denied participating in an illegal, secret meeting, and on Monday, Cox said that, based on her training, she does not believe a Brown Act violation occurred.

She said the grand jury report leaves questions. “I really don’t know what all this means yet,” she said. “We don’t know who A, B and C are. … I’m looking forward to finding out.”

Board President Teresa Brown said the board asked the grand jury to identify the members it accused of misconduct. She was disappointed they remained unnamed.

“Until they name them, it casts the same specter over the whole board,” she said. “It makes no sense to me.”
And, she said, without the names, there is no legal foundation for disciplinary action.

“There is no way we can censure them,” Brown said. “There are no Trustees A, B, C. We cannot censure people who are not named.”

Contact reporter Jennifer Torres at (209) 546-8252 or Visit her blog at

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Your Voice: Drastic decisions at Delta College

by Sam Hatch, Lodi


Besides the budget crisis, the public should know a second storyline is unfolding at Delta College: the reshaping of the college’s mission without much reflection by faculty and staff.

The state budget crisis has become an opportunity to jettison support services for Delta’s most vulnerable students. This summer, the Economic Opportunity Programs and Services and Disabled Student Programs and Services suffered reductions of 31 percent because of cuts in state funding for the programs. Despite carrying over $10 million dollars from the most recent fiscal year, the college used none of that money to help students in these programs.

Although some funding has recently been restored, the college appears to be hedging on its commitment to ensure educational access to all students.

The current round of so-called “strategic” budget cuts have been focused on basic skills — reading, ESL, developmental writing — services for the college’s most vulnerable students.

Of course, judicious cuts to all programs are a financial necessity. However, balancing the budget by slashing these programs so deeply does a disservice to the majority of our students.

Roughly 38 percent of Delta’s students read at or below the sixth-grade level, and another 46 percent read between the sixth- and ninth-grade levels. Without a sound core of support services, many of our students won’t have a reasonable chance of success.

With more “strategic” cuts expected in the spring, the college will soon help many fewer students looking for an educational second chance.

• Sam Hatch is a San Joaquin Delta College faculty member.

Thanks for reading!
Tracy Press - News, events, classifieds and businesses in Tracy, Calif.

Candidates for Quote of the Week

Please vote for only "one" of these four IN THE POLL.>>>>

1. One of those in support [of cuts to basic skills], Delta Trustee Ted Simas wants the issue taken to the board for a vote once and for all.

"It just gets frustrating to hear the same thing over again," Simas said, referring to the parade of instructors and students who have protested the cuts in recent weeks. "I want this to become an action item so that this Board of Trustees can make a decision and we can get on with the business of the college."
Record, 10/09/09

2. “This public servant business is over-rated. And the voice of the people is the voice of God—gimme a break! The voice of the people is a dogfight in a back alley over butcher’s scraps. The guys with the juice decide what the public needs.” Boss Pendergast, Kansas City philanthropist and civic leader.

3. “Funny how everything sounds like ‘blah, blah, blah,” when you’ve already made up your mind and some sap keeps on talking when he never had a snowball’s chance in hell of influencing the decision.” Quoted in Sigmund Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

4. “Who knew the business of a college wasn’t educatin’ people who need some learnin’? Sounds like déjà vu all over again. Tough decisions gotta be made, and I say when you come to a fork in the road, take it.” Yogi Berra, philosopher and Hall of Fame catcher

Basic Skills Program Violates International Non-Proliferation of Non-Feasible Learning Treaty

Sam Hatch, reporting
Stockton, CA 10/12/09

The college's aim has been to provide "everything to everybody," said Trustee Teresa Brown. "I don't think that's feasible. I don't think that's practical." Record, 10/09/09

Many students in Basic Skills courses have acquired knowledge and skills they could not possibly have learned through a practical and feasible course of instruction, Delta College officials revealed today.

Proliferation of impractical and non-feasible learning is a serious problem because many basic skills students have failed to transfer, earn an associate’s degree, or earn a certificate. Instead, they have left the college seeking better jobs or promotion in their current workplaces, thus straying from their appointed path and proliferating impractical and non-feasible learning. There is also anecdotal evidence that even more dangerous second-generation proliferation is increasing: former basic skills students are helping their children with homework. However, it’s
not easy to know what to do to stop it.

The Office of Destitutional Research is looking into the practical and legal ramifications of a region-wide effort to recover learning from students who acquired it under false pretenses because they later failed to meet any of the benchmarks of success recognized by the Chancellor’s Office. Former basic skills students, who declined to be identified, justify their bootleg learning with vague references to “improved quality of life” and “greater earning power.” In a telephone interview, Professor James Hartwig, who holds joint appointments at the UC Berkeley Schools of
Education and Business, observed that “Region-wide mental repo is basically unexplored territory. Way outside the envelope. Some attempts have been made using consultants trained in VMMT [for non-initiates, Vulcan Mind-Meld Techniques]. But the costs have been prohibitive.

You’ve got to admire the Delta leadership for thinking outside the box. They have a vision, and they aren’t shy about hiring consultants.”

A source at the college, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, commented, “The mantra here is that we can’t provide ‘everything to everybody.’ So I guess that means we’re still providing ‘something to somebody,' otherwise we'd be out of business. The students who are somebodies seem to be adapting well to getting some of the things they want.”

He lamented that “the real sticking point in our transformation of the college is really those balky former somebodies, the Basic Skills students. And of course, their myopic allies among the faculty. Under current policy these students are being phased out and must adapt to being nobodies. For some reason, they can’t seem to get with the reverse Jesse Jackson thing. You know, ‘I am--Nobody, I am—Nobody.‘ Hello, can’t they see it? It’s as plain as the nose on your face. In a down economy, in a
down budget year, these people just aren’t economically viable, they aren’t practical and most of all, they aren’t feasible, and unfortunately, they are going down, too.”

However, he said the college would “remain flexible. I mean, hey, enrollment. We need quite a few of them until the census date. We do the Emma Lazarus thing until the census date. It’s sad. They all have stories that tug at your heart strings--if you listen. But money talks, level 1 walks. We’ve got a responsibility to the long-term solvency of the college and the transfer and voc. ed. students.”

Saturday, March 28, 2009

President Rodriguez's Comments on Probation @ SJDC

Good afternoon everyone,

On February 6th I received notification from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges that they have placed Delta College on probation. Additionally, the Commission is asking us to provide a second report by March 15, 2009.

As you know, the college has been on warning status since June of 2008. Since that time, we have accomplished a great deal toward addressing the recommendations provided to us by the Commission. We provided evidence of this continuing work to the Commission in the form of a follow-up report dated October 21, 2008. Being placed on probation was clearly not the result that we hoped for or expected for our efforts. However, that work did have some positive results. That is, the Commission has now reduced the number of recommendations on which we have to report from eleven down to six. Without downplaying the significance of the remaining recommendations, the good news is that we have been consistently working on these recommendations since we submitted the last report. This does not mean that there is not work to be done. There is a lot yet to be done and we will have to redouble our efforts to get it done. We will have to make this our top priority and marshal our resources to make improvements that remedy our deficiencies and that satisfy the Commission.

It is of little solace that we have plenty of company across the state. A number of colleges are already on warning, probation, or show cause status and a number of others have just been placed into those categories. There is a general consensus across the community colleges that the Commission is taking a hard line on colleges that deviate from the accreditation standards and recommendations. There are a number of reason posited for this change. Among these are pressure from the federal government for greater accountability and to bring our colleges in line with the standards imposed by the other major accrediting agencies. Whatever the reason for this change might be, it is not really of concern at this point. Our task now is to focus on how to fully comply with the remaining six recommendations and to change our status so that we are not on the negative list. As one step in that direction, I will be speaking with Dr. Beno, the president of the Commission,this afternoon to get more specific information about the remaining recommendations and the Commission action.

Next week we will begin the task of reconvening the accreditation task force to help resolve the remaining issues. Our accreditation liaison officer, Dr. Hart, will be sending out information about that process. To jump start that work, I have attached the letter from the Commission and the team report. Please take the time to read both documents. In the days ahead, we will all need to work together as we aggressively respond to the Commission's recommendations. To do so, everyone needs to be fully informed.