Below we reproduce a message we received regarding efforts to put together an organized opposition to the Reinvention. Please distribute widely.
I hope you can make it to this meeting Sunday evening. It would be an important one for us. I've copied and pasted the following from a media contact's e-mail to our [save-city-colleges] listserv:
A west side minister, Paul Jakes, with his contact from one of the City College campuses will convene a public forum on Sunday evening as a chance to quickly pull together an organizing summit for people from all campuses.
It will be at Paul Jakes' church, located at 531 North Kedzie Avenue, this Sunday evening at 7:30 pm.
Former State Senator Alice Palmer will also be there to speak -- she had sent a letter to the Sun-Times to oppose Hyman's policies -- and a now-former board member who was just handed his hat by Emanuel may also be attending to speak out against the administration's plans. It would probably be good if at least a few faculty could attend.
Please forward to other CCC faculty who should know about this.
Below we present a meticulously researched document that exposes the way in which the quality of education at the Chicago City Colleges (CCC) has been misrepresented by manipulating and selectively choosing the Colleges performance data. These are data that have been professionally gathered over many years and that present an opposite picture to that loudly peddled by Chancellor Hyman and her crew. The author brilliantly demonstrates how the solution came first, the Reinvention, and the problem was identified afterwards via the use of spurious facts and misinformation.
Furthermore, the author provides important insights as to how those “selfless” consultants of the Reinvention, initially provide free services so they can later frolic in the pie of juicy goodies being showered by Hyman on newly hired upper level administrators. In a previous post, we have warned readers about this topic, as it pertained to the limbic relationship that the CCC and Accenure have developed.
We thank the author for sharing with us this clarifying analysis.
The Case for Change: Reinventing the Wheel
Shortly after she was appointed appointed Chancellor of the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) in April 2010 by Mayor Richard M. Daley, Cheryl Hyman acquired the services of two consulting firms, McKinsey & Co. and the Civic Consulting Alliance.The work contributed by these companies has been described as pro bono—that is, loosely, free of charge.In November, however, Chancellor Hyman hired Alvin Bisarya, a consultant from McKinsey, and Donald Laackman, a member of the Civic Consulting Alliance.Both formerly “free” advisors, they have assumed positions that pay $130,000 and $140,000, respectively.In short, pro bono was transformed into quid pro quo.
Nothing Is What It Seems
It is important to understand this fact because it illustrates a major theme of the Hyman administration: Nothing is what it seems. Besides theChancellor’s hiring of twenty-five executives at a cost of more than $100,000 each and then claiming that her goal is tosave big money, the best example of this theme is the rationale for the Chancellor’s program for redesigning the entire CCC system, which she and Mayor Daley call Reinvention.Keep in mind that, according to a Civic Consulting Alliance document, Hyman launched her investigation into the state-of-the-colleges in the summer of 2010, but it wasn’t as much an investigation of a problem as it was a justification for a solution.That is, McKinsey and the Alliance “helped City Colleges of Chicago build their ‘Case for Change.’”
Thus, while the Alliance document claims that the consultants took “a deep dive into the metrics that tell the [colleges] how they are doing today and where they want to head in order to deliver on student success,” they didn’t dive very deeply, after all.They cherry-picked the data and then used it to provide an excuse for transforming a system that, as all the data show, didn’t need to be transformed.
After briefly stepping into the shallow waters of pre-chosen statistics, the Chancellor embarked on a city-wide tour of businesses, industries, civic associations, and professional societies to make her Case for Change. The tale she has consistently told is that the colleges in CCC are failing in every performance area.The aforementioned audiences heard that
·only 7% of CCC students graduate;
·only 16% of them transfer to four-year institutions;
·only 4-5% earn a bachelor’s degree;
·and more than half drop out before completing 15 credit hours.
Presumably, it was these “dismal” statistics that led to the “dismissal” of six college presidents in February 2011.After all, the Board of Trustees redefined the job of college president to include the ability to meet “specific performance measures and goals.”Evidently, the sitting presidents failed to demonstrate that ability.
In this regard, it’s important to note that, according to CCC’s July 14, 2010, news release, the people who were added to the senior administrative staff under Chancellor Hyman brought “expertise and experience which will increase the City Colleges’ ability to strengthen accountability and oversight and to provide high quality services to our students.”It looks as if the competent are coming in, and the incompetent are going out.If that’s the case, then Chancellor Hyman’s claim that “nobody has been fired” (quoted in Inside Higher Ed) sounds suspect.However, it may only turn out to be just another example of the kind of sleight of hand that turns “free” into costly.Nothing is what it seems.
Ignoring the Data
The July 14 CCC press release stated that “Management oversight will improve by better utilizing data and organizational intelligence to guide district strategy.”Ironically, but not surprisingly, CCC has a pile of data, collected over many years, demonstrating that the Chancellor’s doom-and-gloom diagnosis of the colleges’ performance is completely wrong.Worse yet, the advisory teams seem to have missed this data, much of which is long-term, comprehensive, and generally favorable.
For example, in 2009, one year before Cheryl Hyman was appointed, the District Office of CCC issued a summary of student success in the seven colleges across a six-year period, from 2002 to 2008.Based on a “nationally recognized” benchmark (from the National Student Clearinghouse) for judging how well a college is doing in serving the needs of its students, this longitudinal study measured, in addition to the percentage of students transferring to and graduating from four-year institutions, the percentage of students returning, completing degrees or certificates, and attaining a 2.0 grade point average.
The advantage of this analysis is that it’s not based on data that have been selected to prove a point.The CCC Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE) evidently proceeded with the hope that the seven colleges in the CCC system would demonstrate that they were performing well, but there were no guarantees.At the end of the six years, the ORE found that almost 67% of the nearly 7,500 credit students in the cohort were successful in at least one area of achievement.The combined transfer/degree completion figure was 32%.And the percentage of students who had successfully completed their courses was almost 30%, not counting graduates and transfers.
Also demonstrating that the colleges are far better than the Chancellor claims is the information released by the ORE in March 2011 showing that term-to-term retention improved dramatically over a five-year period, from 2006 to 2010.District-wide, the jump went from 63.0% to 67.3%.Olive-Harvey, Wright, and Kennedy-King each increased the numbers of returnees by five percentage points.The colleges had been encouraged to focus on retention, and they did so.Wright, for example, joined an organization called Foundations of Excellence, implemented a program called the First-Year Experience, and reaped the benefits.Other colleges made similar efforts.In 2008, the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) reported that Wright College beat the schools in its 29-member cohort in retention, 59% to 56.4%.
These positive results, which reflect a long-standing interest on the part of college administrators, faculty, and staff to improve the academic performance of CCC students, are the product of much soul-searching, hard work, and intense focus dating back to 1998.According to the Illinois Board of Higher Education (IBHE) Results Report for FY 2003, Wright College was at that time “in its fifth year of implementing educational programs and practices”that met the goals of a state-wide program called The Illinois Commitment and Illinois Community College Board’s “requirement to incorporate information regarding performance indicators and the assessment of student learning.”That is, every college in the state was mandated to improve student achievement by assessing its methods and evaluating its results.Clearly, the community colleges of Chicago met that challenge.
In defense of the criteria used in the ORE study, it is important to remember two points.First, students at community colleges typically take far longer than four-year-college students to complete a degree or earn a certificate because most of them attend part-time (60%, according to the 2009 Community College Survey of Student Engagement [CCSSE] report), most of them work either full-time (one out of five, according to this report) or part-time, and many of them must take one or more remedial courses.As a result, degree-completion and transfer are typically slowed down quite significantly.
Second, community colleges like CCC, in the words of the ORE’s interim 2007 report, have “the mission of delivering learning opportunities and educational services for diverse student populations.”Thus, as the report says, although “graduation rates are often used as the single measure of student success … this measure fails to document outcomes for students with multiple objectives and career paths.”The CCSSE report lists as goals of community college students—in addition to graduation, certificate completion, and transfer—obtaining or updating job-related skills, self-improvement or personal enjoyment, and changing careers.
This means that many students take one or more courses and stop when their goal is satisfied—well short of the time required for graduation or transfer.And such students are not indications of system failure, but of system success.That’s why the ORE warned in its 2009 study, “Reporting one single outcome in isolation is a biased and incomplete method for reporting student outcome for community college students.”So much for the Chancellor’s frequent use of the 7% graduation rate as a justification for change.Anyone who actually read either CCSSE’s list of student goals or the District’s own ORE report would know better.
Misusing the Data
When reporters and bloggers get their information exclusively from CCC under Chancellor Hyman, they are too often likely to ignore this caveat.Worse yet, they are likely to get the numbers wrong.Blogger Joanne Jacobs, for example, said on August 12, 2010, that “20 percent of City Colleges students complete a certificate or degree or transfer to a four-year institution.”The Joyce Foundation reported in February 2011: “City Colleges has struggled with boosting its student outcomes and local businesses have been hesitant to hire its graduates.The institution has also suffered from a lack of quality data to guide reforms or set policy standards.”Progress Illinois stated in November 2010, “It’s no secret that the system is in serious need of repair; new data compiled by the city found that only 16 percent of Chicago’s 120,000 student transfer to four-year colleges.”
Ms. Jacobs needs to know that the latest available graduation rate (2008) is 32%, not 20%.The Joyce Foundation should refer to the extensive study mentioned above, which was intended to “allow CCC to document student success, identify at-risk student populations, and enhance academic and student services,” precisely the goals ofthe current CCC administration, who act and speak as if nobody in the District ever thought of using research for such purposes.Missing in the Progress Illinois claim is the fact that well over 50% of the 120,000 students, of which “only” 16% graduate, are not in credit programs.Enrolled in Adult Education or Continuing Education, they can neither graduate nor transfer to four-year colleges.The courses they take are either pre-credit or non-credit.
It’s quite possible that the Chancellor has made the same mistake, since all of her data turn out to be unrelated to the 2009 longitudinal study.She has 4-5% of CCC students graduating from four-year institutions, whereas the report has 7.5%.She has 16% transferring, although the report has this number at nearly 19%.Her most famous statistic, that only 7% graduate, is contradicted in the report, which puts the graduation rate at 13%.
It may be that Chancellor Hyman and her highly paid advisors either failed to add in certificate earners or calculated percentages based on the total student figure of 120,000 instead of the actual number of credit students, 42,000.However, no matter how we interpret the Chancellor’s use of statistics, it’s clear that it is, at the very least, misleading, if not flagrantly and purposely deceptive.A press release from CCC says that Cheryl Hyman “began to measure City Colleges’ performance based on student outcomes quickly after being appointed to her position by Mayor Daley.”But perhaps she proceeded too quickly and, therefore, missed the 2009 report by her own Office of Research and Evaluation.
Comparison and Context
The worst thing about the data being used by CCC to fix a system that’s not actually broken is that it’s non-comparative and non-contextual.By non-comparative, I mean that the statistics for graduation and transfer don’t mean very much in isolation.They have to be compared to the statistics for other two-year colleges in order to determine whether they reflect success or failure.Tossing around such data (especially when it’s inaccurate) doesn’t reveal anything, except, of course, a desire to prove the unprovable.
By non-contextual, I mean that the data used by the Chancellor and her advisors have been interpreted outside the context of factors that influence school success, but which are beyond the control of the schools themselves.The two main factors in this regard are student preparedness and program resources.We have to consider, first, the quality of CCC students’ preparation for college work, mostly in the Chicago Public Schools.Beyond any doubt, CCC is at least partly a product of this system.That is, it is very much the context in which CCC operates.In addition, we have to assess the amount of money actually invested in the education of students in the CCC system, which depends on state funding and District Office allocations.
While data on comparisons between CCC, as a whole, and other community colleges is lacking, the individual colleges maintain such information, sometimes at the behest of their accrediting agency.(Each college is separately and independently accredited.)Wright College, which has been placed in a national cohort of 29 demographically similar community colleges, uses data from the IPEDS, whose 2008 report shows that Wright granted more than 1,200 degrees and certificates in 2008, versus an average of slightly more than 1,100 at the 29 comparable institutions.The combined graduation and transfer rate at Wright is also above the national average—substantially.The 2008 IPEDS study shows that Wright’s rate was 42%, versus an average of 36% for schools in its cohort.
Wright also measures the academic success of its students by using the Collegiate Assessment of Academic Proficiency (CAAP) to test students in five areas of study.In 2008, Wright students scored well above the national average on CAAP tests in math, slightly above the average in science, slightly below average in critical thinking and reading, and average in writing.The amazing thing is, the individual City Colleges are comparatively successful despite the fact that many of their students are graduates of one of the worst public school systems in the country, evidenced not only by the notoriously large dropout rate in Chicago’s high schools, but also by the sizable number (90%) of incoming CCC students who need at least one remedial course before they can take credit classes in that field.
The City Colleges of Chicago have open enrollment, which means that, unlike most four-year institutions, they can’t pick and choose their students.More often than not, they’re forced to work with the students who graduated in the bottom half of their class rather than the top.Furthermore, remediation can only go so far.If students are reading at an elementary school level, it’s difficult to bring them up to the college level in a short amount of time.And it’s easy for them to exhaust their student aid if the process takes too long.The result, all too frequently, is that students who have been successfully remediated and are therefore prepared to take college courses can’t afford to continue.
The other part of the context in which CCC student achievement must be understood is resources.Not only are CCC students underprepared, they are also underfunded, at least if Wright College can be used as a standard for the District.According to Wright’s interpretation of IPEDS data, the college “employs fewer total FTE [full-time equivalent] staff than do institutions within the peer group.Wright has also tended to employ fewer persons in instructional and administrative/managerial positions than institutions within the peer group.”As a result, Wright spent only $48 M on “core expenses” in 2008, compared with an average of $56 M in the cohort.
These claims are also verified in the 2010 IPEDS report, which says that Wright had 539 employees in 2009, while the cohort averaged 874.Most significantly, the instructional staff at Wright numbered 210, against the cohort’s average of 288.There were 61 employees in support services at Wright, but 99, on average, at comparable institutions.The cost per student “full-time equivalent” was $6,385 at Wright, but $9,026 at other community colleges.
According to the 2003 IBHE report, even in that year Wright, operating “at a high degree of productivity and accountability,” had “few, if any, efficiencies left to be achieved.”The college had a higher average class size than the State of Illinois average.And the cost of instruction was significantly lower.In short—again, if Wright can be taken as typical of the colleges in the CCC system—these schools have, for a long time, operated at a disadvantage compared to other colleges in Illinois and nationally.Ironically, as a cure for underfunding, the Chancellor recently called for a 10% reduction in instructional expenditures across the board.Each school lost an average of thirty employees and “saved” the District millions of dollars.To what end?
What’s Going On?
The Chancellor’s invalid claim that the community colleges of Chicago are failing has created two very serious problems.Based as it is on non-comparative and non-contextualized evidence, the claim is insulting to faculty, staff, and students.One would expect an analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of any operating system to be based on a careful, thorough, and long-term study, such as was conducted by the CCC’s own Office of Research and Evaluation from 2002 to 2008 and such as is now being conducted by the sixty-member task forces (created by District Office in January) that are meeting for 30 hours a week over a period of one semester—no doubt at a cost of approximately one million dollars—to come up with a solution to a problem that should have been studied in the same way.
The result is that faculty members, who have shown themselves to be dedicated to ongoing and comprehensive self-assessment as a means of self-improvement, have been told that their efforts have been inadequate.It is a safe bet that neither the Chancellor nor the members of the CCC Board of Trustees have any idea how much time and energy City College faculty have put into assessment efforts over the past five to ten years or even the slightest notion of the ability and dedication of both faculty and staff.The reward for the college presidents, whose hard work has resulted in measurable achievement over the past few years, is termination. Who’s next?
Furthermore, the mere fact that the Chancellor’s claims are baseless raises questions about her motivation.Was she the recipient of misinformation?Did a staff member give her bogus numbers and also neglect to provide the comparative and contextual data that would allow even the real numbers to be understood in their proper perspective?Or were the numbers deliberately chosen and then interpreted solely to make a case for change—change, by the way, that has until now only resulted inbitterness, shock, anger, frustration, disappointment, and confusion on the part of college administrators, faculty, staff and students.
Strange to say, the net effect of the Chancellor’s Reinvention has so far been a massive expenditure for high-priced marketing consultants and new six-figure hires for CCC’s non-instructional District Office.In the meantime, thanks to the Chancellor’s presentation of questionable data, CCC has not been improved; it has been discredited.
For the (so far) uninquiring minds of those who have supported the Chancellor’s sweeping decisions affecting the entire CCC system, the figure of 7% has been taken to justify massive changes.What will happen when they discover that the rationale for the Chancellor’s program of radical change, Reinvention, is nothing more than a fabrication?Will the program be terminated?Will the Chancellor be fired?That is, after millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent solving a problem that doesn’t exist, will heads roll?One assumes that these issues will be raised at the Chancellor’s” annual review of performance,” required by CCC Board Rule 3.19.And one assumes that the Case for Change will be subjected to the kind of scrutiny it deserves.
We don't believe that Faculty Development Week (FDW) should be mandatory. Mandatory not only entails a captive audience, but a direct lack of respect for the professionalism of each faculty member. When you were hired and later granted tenure, it must mean something regarding the understanding the administration has regarding your qualifications and performance. It must mean that they trust your professionalism and your professional judgment as to which is the best way to advance your knowledge and skills in your discipline. This is after all higher education!!! This is the way it is respected at four-year universities, were the faculty would feel demeaned if such a scheme was imposed on them. The CCC has to make up its mind. Are we college teachers or the glorified extension of high school instructors?
With no disrespect toward high school teachers, but actually the opposite, we don't want to end up with the ever growing and grotesque encroaching on these teachers' autonomy that CPS has routinely imposed on them. It has gotten to the extent that decisions as to which student passes a class or graduates has been taken away from the individual teacher and schools and placed directly on the hands of central office CPS bureaucrats.
Do we want to slide down that chute? The imposition of a mandatory FDW simply goes against the tenets of academic freedom. If the District or the Colleges have useful seminars and conferences to offer, they will be well attended. If they are insipid and useless, they won't (i.e., "if you build it, they will come"). The CCC now openly spouses the mantra of the free market. Let them have a free market of ideas through their forums and conferences, and if they really have value and are properly organized, the people will spontaneously flock to them. But to force a captive audience to endure propagandistic, boring, and useless conferences is a charade intended to be used as a PR opportunity to make public claims about the self-congratulatory success of the administration in improving the quality of education at the CCC. Nothing more, nothing less than the old window dressing that our administrators have turned into an art.
In light of the recent attacks on Academic Freedom by the CCC administration's Reinvention "changes" to policies and practices, the article that we link to below is very illustrative. The CCC hierarchy has a long history of vindictiveness and political persecution.
This is why those of us who are openly critical of the Reinvention have had no recourse but to remain anonymous for the time being. Never mind those whiners and administration water carriers who complaint at yet another anonymous post. They are just unhappy that they cannot be the ones that can run upstairs to expose people who are openly critical so they can be righteously patted in the back and have some crumbs thrown at them.
Here is a significant quote about an area in which the CCC administration has been repressive for years and which promises to get worse under the Reinvention regime:
"We must remember that the right to engage in extramural speech is strong, and that it is one of the few areas in which individual academic freedom has actually received constitutional protection from the Supreme Court, the Ceballos decision notwithstanding. Faculty members should speak their minds honestly, and with passion, if need be."
by Donald A. Downs
Donald A. Downs is a professor of political science, law, and journalism at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. An expert on academic freedom, he has advised several schools and organizations on academic freedom issues. He is the president of the Committee for Academic Freedom and Rights (CAFAR), a University of Wisconsin-based group of faculty dedicated to protecting academic freedom on campus and in the state of Wisconsin.
Professor Downs published his article through The John William Pope Center for Educational Policy. Titled Academic Freedom: What It Is, What It Isn’t, and How to Tell the Difference, it can be fully accessed at http://www.popecenter.org/acrobat/AcademicFreedom.pdf.
Below we reproduce the first paragraph of this insightful article published in Truthdig.com by Chris Hedges. It has plenty of arguments that directly go to the heart of the motivations behind the Reinvention. Please click on the title which is linked to the source, to read the whole piece.
A nation that destroys its systems of education, degrades its public information, guts its public libraries and turns its airwaves into vehicles for cheap, mindless amusement becomes deaf, dumb and blind. It prizes test scores above critical thinking and literacy. It celebrates rote vocational training and the singular, amoral skill of making money. It churns out stunted human products, lacking the capacity and vocabulary to challenge the assumptions and structures of the corporate state. It funnels them into a caste system of drones and systems managers. It transforms a democratic state into a feudal system of corporate masters and serfs.
The City Colleges of Chicago (CCC), the largest community college system in the state of Illinois and one of the largest in the nation has teamed with Accenture to offer a "Job Readiness Mentoring Program" designed to provide students with the skills they need to successfully enter the workforce.
"This program is an excellent experience for students," said Cheryl L. Hyman, Chancellor, City Colleges of Chicago."Our students are exposed to top professionals in corporate settings and are learning about the high expectations the business world has set for them."
The effort is part of Accenture's Skills to Succeed initiative, which plans to equip 250,000 people around the world by 2015 with the skills to get a job or build a business.
(Sound of jaw dropping.)
This is shameless. There seems to be no end to the web of cronyism that the CCC administration and Accenture have become entangled in. The CCC Reinvention site proudly proclaims how Accenture, a civically-minded partner, offers pro bono “services” for the crusade. Then a former Accenture Manager, Donald Laackman, becomes the new president of Harold Washington College. And now, Accenture gets the rights (and the contract not mentioned in the press release) to supposedly train our students in job skills. Not for a single moment believe that there is no quid pro quo here. As the press release states, this is part of Accenture’s worldwide Skills to Succeed initiative.
Accenture has a long, devious history, as we will see below. In fact, it is so controversial and rapacious that one has to wonder why would any honest person in government would be interested in doing business with them.
The following information about Accenture is a bit dated, from the early 2000s, but the sickening reach of Accenture’s shenanigans is carefully documented by the folks from British Columbia Citizens for Public Power. Below we reproduce extended excerpts from a fact sheet they put together. It can be found at http://www.citizensforpublicpower.ca/files/uploads/accenture.pdf. We are sure that since then Accenture has moved on to greater and more grotesque endeveaors.
Who is Accenture?
Accenture is a multinational consulting company with its headquarters in Bermuda [since then it moved to Ireland], a popular tax haven for corporations. Accenture operates regional offices throughout the world and has embarked on an aggressive campaign to win government contracts for computer systems and customer services. Recently, they have also expanded into public utilities throughout North America.
Before 2000, Accenture was known as Andersen Consulting, the consulting arm of Arthur Andersen, the accounting firm implicated in the Enron scandal. In 2000, Andersen Consulting (then a Chicago-based partnership) undertook the largest re-branding initiative in corporate history. It renamed the company Accenture, went public as a corporation, and relocated their head office to Bermuda [then in 2009 to Ireland].(Source: “Accenture and Monday employ three tax havens.” Glen Simpson, Wall Street Journal, July 3, 2002.)
Why would Accenture locate its head offices in Bermuda? It’s not for the weather. According to documents filed by Accenture in July 2001 to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), taxes and legal advantages seem to be the priorities. According to Accenture’s own SEC documents:
“We are not subject to tax in Bermuda on our income or capital gains.”
“It may not be possible to enforce court judgements obtained in the United States against us in Bermuda or in other countries other than the United States where we have assets.”
“Shareholders of Bermuda companies do not generally have rights to take action against directors or officers of the company.” (Source: “Accenture: My holiday home in Bermuda.” Philippe Rose, Le Monde Informatique. ITworld.com. November 23, 2001 and Accenture SEC filings: http://biz.yahoo.com/e/l/a/can.html)
Accenture has a history of controversial deals.
Members of Florida’s Joint Legislative Auditing Committee have blasted a nine-year, $69 million deal to hire Accenture to provide a call centre and online licensing system for the Department of Business and Professional Regulation. State Auditor General Bill Monroe says that the deal will wind up costing the state $30 million more than the current system – an allegation Accenture denies, claiming that the state will save more $93 million. Republican Senators criticized the deal as “sloppy” and “pretty poor business practices.”(Source: “Agency defends Accenture contract.” Nancy Cook Lauer, Tallahassee Democrat, January 29, 2002.)
While Accenture considers the privatization of the Ontario welfare system a success, many critics, including the province’s Auditor General disagreed. At one point Accenture billed taxpayers $26,000 in unreceipted expenses and Accenture management was paid up to $575 an hour. In 2001, the Provincial Auditor reported that the cost ratio of having Accenture perform the work rather than public servants was 6 to 1 and that in 2000, while the Province saved $89 million (primarily from cutting welfare payments), they paid Accenture $193 million. (Sources: www.polarisinstitute.org, “Workfare Fiasco”, Toronto Star, September 28th, 1999; “Opposition accuses consulting firm of hosing taxpayers”, Wendy McCann, Canadian Press Newswire, December 9th, 1999; “Some Consulting Service Fees Higher, Ministry Confirms”, Theresa Boyle, Toronto Star, December 10th, 1999; “Welfare Critics Rip Expansion of Computer System”, Peter Van Harten, Hamilton Spectator, September 5th, 2001; “Welfare contract called $194 million boondoggle; Ont Says money being saved” Colin Perkel, Canadian Press Newswire, October 11, 2001; “MPPs slam provincial welfare deal”, Caroline Mallan, Toronto Star, October 12th, 2001; “Accent on Savings”, Ottawa Citizen Editorial, October 22, 2001; “Consultants Cost Province millions”, Richard Brennan and Katherine Harding, Toronto Star, December 1, 2001)
At one point, Accenture fitted social service workers with electronic tracking devices to record their every movement. Eventually, these were shelved under a storm of controversy. (Sources: www.polarisinstitute.org, “Big Brother is watching Ontario’s bureaucrats: Workers fitted with tracking devices”, Tom Blackwell, Montreal Gazette, March 30, 2000; “Mike Harris, not social workers, should be fitted with an electronic tracking device, opposition says”, Canadian Press Newswire, March 30, 2000)
Up until 1998, the former welfare director of Ohio, Arnold Tompkins, awarded nearly $26 million in unbid contracts to Accenture/Andersen Consulting. After leaving public office, Tompkins was given a $10,000 a month job from Accenture. The contracts themselves were fraught with problems and eventually led to the reinstatement of original computer systems after too many complaints from workers and clients. The state was billed up to $450/hour per manager and one consultant was paid $123,000 for working 492 hours in a month (or 16 hours per day for 31 days.)(Sources: www.polarisinstitute.org, “State Agency’s Former Leader Accused of Wrongdoing” Columbus Dispatch, June 30, 2001; “State Probes $26 million no-bid deal”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, January 26, 2001; Ohio Works Problems Lead to Reinstatement of old job-matching, Dayton Daily News, March 12, 2001; “Tompkins’ Sweet Deal”, Cleveland Plain Dealer, November 13th, 2001; “Ex-Official Sentenced to Fix Computers”, Tim Doulin, The Columbus Dispatch, November 3rd, 2001; “Ex-State Official to be Sentenced November 2, Catherine Candisky, September 15th, 2001”; “Job & Family Services runs into still more computer problems”, Ted Wendling, Cleveland Plain Dealer, February 5th, 2002)
A system to enable private and public agencies to track child abuse reports has been filled with problems. It is incomplete, was nearly 3 years overdue, and cost $362 million up to early 1999—3 times the original price tag. For example, Accenture/Andersen Consulting projected 5,448 billable days of working on the project, and it has grown to over 28,000, all at the expense of taxpayers. (Sources: www.polarisinstitute.org, “Foster Care Agencies Fault Statewide Computer System”, Somini Sengupta, New York Times, May 13, 2000;”“Computer Costs Soar, Study Says”, The Times Union (Albany, NY), March 11, 2001; “Experts offer a $54 million solution”, James M. Odato, March 17, 2001)
Accenture/Andersen Consulting billed the state $75 million, $63 million more than the original estimate to develop a system to track child support in Texas. (Sources: www.polarisinstitute.org, “Consulting Company has a track record of boosting billing,” Wendy McCann, Canadian Press Newswire, November 4, 1998)
Accenture/Andersen Consulting billed Nebraska $24 million over the original estimate to automate social services programs. The state auditor called the project “the most wasteful I have ever heard of. It’s like pouring money down a deep dark hole.”(www.polarisinstitute.org, “Consulting Company has a track record of boosting billing”, Wendy McCann, Canadian Press Newswire, November 4, 1998)
In response to our post on the impending demise of remedial education at the CCC we received a sobering comment from a reader. We have taken the liberty of reposting and highlighting it below because it brilliantly exposes all that is wrong with the premises and objectives of the Reinvention, and because it is truly inspirational in our struggle to defend the original mission of the CCC and all community colleges.
Anything of value? I am a product of the City Colleges of Chicago. I am a child of immigrant parents and a first generation college graduate. It took me 11 years to earn my bachelors degree. Throughout that time, I lived life. I got married, had a family, worked, and went to school...all in a variety of combinations that life allowed. Particularly instrumental in this success was the fact that the community college afforded me the opportunity to make this happen. Today, I have earned my Masters Degree and then some and am tenured faculty with the system. My children have never been enrolled in daycare and we live a modest lifestyle where education is a priority. Anyone who reports the system being a failure is off their rocker! Not everyone is "college bound" and "traditional" and quite frankly, why would everyone want to be? Just my two cents...
The CCC administration has pounded long and hard on the issue of remedial education. We have reported on how Chancellor Hyman, not long after taking over the reigns of the CCC, blurted out during August 2010 that the she wanted to severely curtail remedial education— and that the strong rejection of these plans by the faculty, because it would end one century of open enrollment at the CCC, compelled her and her crew to publicly back off, at least for a while.
They came up with a different formulation: that they were going to study the issue, that it was going to be submitted to the famous Task Forces for research and recommendations. On the meantime they have continued their agenda of promoting this remedial education cutback behind the scenes. Furthermore, they had the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune endorsing this cutback.
Unfortunately this has had an effect even on sectors of the faculty who have begun to doubt the historical mission of the CCC and the responsibility that we all have toward all students that are rejected by the rest of higher education because the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) failed them, or because they are immigrants, etc.
“The article states, “A recent nationwide study that followed community college freshmen over six years found that only 35 percent earned any sort of degree.” As instructors and advisers, how should we address statistics such as these with our students? How do we encourage students to continue pursuing their goals while still being realistic with them about their chances of success?”
This is very ominous. This sounds like an argument for convincing students that they should give up, but that we should tell it to them softly. This is preposterous.
These students have their significant delays in math and reading/writing because the City and CPS failed them. It is the responsibility of the City to make them full. The City must develop a structure to fully support these students, at the City’s cost (currently pre-credit students have to pay for their pre-credit courses because financial aid does not cover it), not only by assuming the total cost of the remedial education, but also by offering additional resources to these students in the form of financial aid, childcare aid, etc. (i.e., social services) that will ease their burden and give them a better chance of overcoming their academic deficiencies. It is at this point that these students will be better equipped and more self-confident to take on a college-level academic load. But the administration agenda is geared to either convincing the students to quit, even before they start, or to discard them early in the process. That is why the Chicago Tribune, the major business paper in town, loves it.
Going along with the first and foremost goal of the Reinvention (degrees and programs of “economic value”) any student that after so many years has not concluded a degree, even if they have approved a series of college courses, is a failure and they have gained nothing of value. This is dead wrong, on only acquires meaning (very grotesque) under the business-model criterion of “economic value.” Recently, an officer of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and an emeritus and still active professor at a Research-1 university, while in town, expounded on this issue. To paraphrase him/her: to look at a student and say that after so many years she/he has not finished a degree and conclude that this student has gained nothing is a one-sided mistake; this student has certainly benefited personally from the number of courses taken and has grown intellectually and socially. We cannot negate this added value to this person’s life; the issue cannot be resolved only in economic terms.
Fairbanks, thanks for your question. There is no problem with job-training, it has been done for decades. The problem is with the actual context.
1. For a long time, industry has trained their workers on the job. And for a long time they have been trying to shift its cost into the government or any other willing partners. That is why they have argued for years for higher education to twist itself and accept these responsibilities at no cost for the corporate world. Hey, the corporations pay little taxes and in many cases like GE or Bank of America, no taxes at all. SO by not owning to their responsibilities to invest in training their workers they want to have their cake and eat too.
2. The transformation of community colleges like the CCC into job-training centers destroys a historical role they have played in helping working class folks to get a meaningful education at a relatively reasonable cost. The new job-training orientation will mean that the scope of their education will become much narrower, and that many won’t be able to have the flexibility (in personal growth and social advancement) that comes with a broader education and a bachelor’s degree. Flexibility that will be needed when the current jobs on offer morph or disappear and you are left with a tunnel-vision type of education. Flexibility in a richer understanding of the world that you need to understand that the limited pay and working conditions you have in your job as a plan for millions of people is fundamentally unfair.
3. Finally, it is particularly disgusting that many people will be pulled like cattle by their noses through the conscious tracking of these folks into job-training programs disguised as higher education. Tracking happens when you are placed into a category by the educational system and then you are told that that is your lot on this earth. It will be more sophisticated in this new world of Reinvention, but it won’t be less outrageous and disgusting than when it was done to African American, Latino, female, and poor, working class white children in the 1960s.