Speech to Board of Trustees of City Colleges of Chicago

Let me start by stating of how proud I am to represent some of the best teachers in The State of Illinois, in addition both our teachers and our students are excited in having a C.C.C. leadership that not only looks like them but also grew in the same neighborhoods that many of us did. It is a common occurrence of having teachers pull me to the side as to relate stories of going to school with our Chancellor or remembering one of our College Presidents from the neighborhood.

That said it makes it even more painful to deliver my assessment of the mood within the Adult Education Program. My assessment is based not only on my personal perceptions but also by the comments of Adult Education professors in emergency meetings of Afscme 3506, emails from members and stewards from all campuses and finally letters written by a number of professors from all of our campuses. All of them are asking for the most forceful representation of their concerns. All of them refer to an ongoing malice and anger. It is on their behalf that I’m speaking to you.

The immediate cause of this anger is the process and apparent direction of restructuring within Adult Education. Yet, it is a pattern of current choices by your administration and the decision making processes currently in place that has steered us to this uncertain step. Our educators think and so does this union leadership that our concerns, opinions, expertise and care for our program are not considered in reaching decisions by many of your chosen executives. This atmosphere extends far beyond faculty morale and affects our students and our communities as well.

Changes at C.C.C. Adult Education with the noted exception of Truman and Olive Harvey takes place in the dark and at a rapid pace. We do not deny that some change is good and necessary, especially considering the latest news publications about C.C.C., but we are left with the impression that what used to make our program successful is no longer appreciated or considered before changes are made. A culture of data worship is prevailing but so decontextualized that there is no way to assess what we are measuring and for what purpose. Will the change allow us to better serve our students? To operate more effectively? Or are we going to find out again that we ended up spending moneys to hire data ‘excavators’ and spin doctors. Has any research been piloted or proposed about the impact of the changes on the services provided to our students? My concern here is that decisions are being made in a manner that is disrespectful and even dishonest to the practice of having our faculty meeting and researching best practices for our program and at a minimum proceeding through union impact bargaining.

Changes in Adult Education have traditionally suffered by the lack of deep knowledge by the executives of our Colleges. Therefore, quite often the hiring of an articulate but less than knowledgeable, reliable and diligent dean   results in a disaster. Such disasters have been visited in the past upon a number of our campuses. Wright College barely survived such a dean and so did K. K. C. both currently trying to emerge under much better leadership. I’m very concerned with the situation at Daley College where an obviously less than able and often acting incompetently Adult Education Dean claims that she herself based on her supposed faculty backgrounds can represent an expertise that empowers her to even circumvent agreements between the Provost and me.

The sidelining of the faculty over the past couple of years has taken a toll on morale, and is still leading down the dangerous path of decisions for the sake of appearing to be doing something. Finally, this leads to destroying the process for making the best decisions for the future of our students and our Colleges. We respectfully request that this problem be addressed.

Thank you,
George Roumbanis

President Afscme3506