City Colleges Plan2018-10-15T21:57:29+00:00

The City of Chicago needs a Community College system of distinction bar none in the nation. The City Colleges of Chicago need to become a beacon of success based on the excellent quality of its programs. I am committed to work with the well-credentialed CCC faculty to create a college of the future at the service of the all the constituencies in the City of Chicago.

We can do this recognizing where we have been and by establishing a culture of trust and transparency.   The CCC under Mayor Rahm Emanuel stewardship has not been meeting that standard.

The Issue

My issue with Emmanuel’s strategy for the City Colleges of Chicago (CCC) that has each college specialize and limits occupational training offerings at each institution is that it significantly reduces options for many Chicagoans while picking and choosing which communities will have access to the more attractive programs and the more durable professions.

Plummeting Enrollment

Specialization and CCC system of centralized recruitment as opposed to unleashing individual colleges to aggressively recruit on their own is causing enrollment to plummet.  Consider that overall CCC attendance has been plummeting, falling from 119,417 in 2010-11 to 82,384 in 2016-17.   This is a decline of over 37,033 students or 31%.  The fact that other suburban community colleges with smaller geographic and demographic service areas have similar offerings of thriving high quality programs suggest the Emmanuel specialization approach is ill conceived.

Case Study: Nursing

The absurdity of the Emmanuel approach can best be seen in the handling of the Nursing Program.  There is no greater evidence of enrollment decline than in the Nursing Program.  In 2010-11 there were 1,239 students enrolled in the program while only 380 last year.  This is a decline of 859 students or 60%.  So much for specialization.
CCC is only successfully preparing about half as many students to pass state registered nurse licensing exams than it did prior to consolidation of the nursing program at Malcolm X College.  This is deeply troubling.  It is specially troubling in light of the fact that the new Malcolm X College cost taxpayers more than $250 million to construct and was to be a state-of-the-art facility that would have been expected to significantly boost successful student outcomes.
This situation begs the question on why the Program is so significantly failing to meet its goals and students and taxpayers deserve a thorough explanation of what is going wrong.  It also begs the question of how the other specialty programs are faring throughout the City Colleges of Chicago.
It is important to point out that when the decision was made to consolidate the program at Malcolm X College, they in fact closed two programs that were performing well with high passage rates (Truman and Wright) and one that was improving (Daley) while keeping open CCC’s worst performing program at Malcolm X.
CCC could have worked to improve the existing nursing program while moving to establish a high quality Bachelor of Nursing (BSN) Degree program at Malcolm X, as other institutions have done to take advantage of the growing market.  More and more hospitals are requiring BSN’s.
It is also important to note that other Community Colleges in the suburbs (Southwest, Prairie State, Moraine Valley, Harper, and Ivy Tech in West Indiana, offer similar core programs like Nursing and have not suffered enrollment declines.

Financial Impact

By emphasizing centralization and specialization the Mayor’s Office lost sight of the needs of the community and ignored the realities of the funding formula, specifically, state reimbursement which is still based on enrollment.  CCC loss of funding will ultimately diminish its programs and its long term ability to hold down tuition costs. This also means that CCC will be dipping more heavily into the reserves for operational dollars and to pay off the pension contributions for retirees further financially destabilizing CCC.

The Reality of CCC Improvement

Emmanuel’s search for headlines and emphasis on numerical outcomes was highlighted in BGA’s devastating investigation into CCC’s practice of manipulating graduation rates and awarding invalid diplomas.  CCC also effectively created a two-tier degree award system where the emphasis was on non-transferable degree awards.  Yes, the increase in the total degree awards made national headlines and was touted as a great achievement but the bulk of those degrees were non-transferable paper according to Illinois State Law.
How was the Associate In General Studies Numerical Reinvention Outcome Achieved:
  • Student records were culled for those receiving over 60 credits and no degree award
  • Course substitutions was used to make the individual course fit the program
  • Degrees were granted for said coursework retroactively, and
  • New undeclared/undecided students were shunted into the AGS program for an easy numerical win, thus keeping up the aggregate number of awards
  • In the year the initiative was begun, 2012, there was an AGS spike.  It reached its apex in 2014.  The increase continued until 2015 when two transfer level courses were added to the degree requirements.  Then, the AGS degree awards plummeted, there was a noticeable decrease.  Not only was the degree non-transferable, it was an “academically soft degree.”
While touting operational efficiency under the so-called REINVENTION, he effectively dismantled CCC and centralized programs ultimately disenfranchising students who were no longer able to pursue their program studies at the local college.  While touting operational efficiency, he created a centralized administrative structure that was as large, or larger, than the budget of the individual colleges.
CCC has touted gains in adult education based on an increase in the number of students taking college courses.  This begs the question as to how many completed degrees, which it the ultimate measure of Reinvention.  Further, note that in 2009 total Adult Education enrollment was 43,842, in 2014-15 the number had decreased to 28,466 under increased centralized management from District.  The Adult Education Program was “On Watch” during the entire period of Reinvention, and even today, because it was not meeting State Goals.  There was no real marketing for this program emanating out of District. Oh YES, REINVENTION, at the expense of the taxpayer and to the detriment of the community and the student.

My Vision for the City Colleges of Chicago

My strategy will be that each College should have the same core of high quality programs so that no area of the City is discriminated against.  Each College will be granted broad autonomy and be encouraged to recruit students aggressively and establish relationships with potential feeder schools and business and industry partners.
My approach to CCC will be guided by the following principles:
  • A CCC the respects and supports the unique identity of each of the seven colleges as expressed in the concept of “independently accredited colleges”
  • Programmatic offerings that are nationally recognized for excellence
  • Colleges that students and parents consider first choice colleges for their excellence in career and transfer programs
  • Full transparency and honesty with respects to student achievement and program importance.  Faculty are active participants and collaborators in the shaping of curricular offerings
  • Colleges that are connected to the community and responsive to tis needs with each college delivering a quality core set of programs and by promoting essential community programs, such as that of First Responders
  • All student to have the “soft skills” employers need to make them successful in the workplace
  • Faculty are active participants and collaborators in the shaping of curricular offerings and respected for their academic achievement and recognized for their efforts for innovation and excellence.

Budget, Enrollment, and Recruitment

A new report on higher education titled the Hechinger Report predicts a significant downturn in higher education enrollment by 2025 of more than 15%.  This projected news in addition to the already unbelievable decrease in enrollment at the City Colleges of Chicago under Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s leadership presents a gloomy picture for enrollment regarding its impact on faculty load and funding.
One of the three legs of community college funding is State Reimbursement.  The State Reimbursement is based on headcount (enrollment-loosely) and comes to the City Colleges of Chicago from the State two years after the enrollment is evidenced. The result is that the reimbursement amount is a predictable variable for forecasting budgets.  In light of the already continuous drop in enrollment, one can only expect the continuation of a chaotic process leading to the development of a yearly budget for the next year.  It is worth of note that the City Colleges of Chicago has received kudos from the Civic Federation for coming in balanced.  This is, of course, a laudable outcome, but does not reflect the process that was used to obtain it.  Nor did it foresee the massive number of cuts that were evident when the new administration came in 2017, 120 were laid off mostly at District.
In the early stages of Reinvention (2010-11), the District provided templates for the seven “independently accredited colleges” that superimposed the Reinvention business model.  Operational efficiency caused a clash of cultures between academe and the superimposition of District dominance.  The end result as policies of centralization were put into effect was that the budget was increasingly centralized at District and the final college budget was finalized at District without College approval before being moved forward. The budget also showed a significant skewing pattern of dollar distribution across all colleges.
The above enrollment and lack of inclusiveness in budget preparation speak to the lack of collaborative long-term economic planning at City Colleges of Chicago. Reinvention under Emanuel’s leadership was quick to develop a five-year plan for outcomes and targets without developing a parallel budget plan to meet the long-term exigencies of the City Colleges of Chicago.  This type of approach led to an unbridled bloating of the District Administration and an unequal per capita distribution of the College’s budget.
It is my vision and plan for the City Colleges of Chicago to deliver a budget:
  • whose development is inclusive and collaborative,
  • that recognizes the supports the individual achievements of each college
  • that recognizes the exigencies of the funding formula and reflects a strategic process of long-term planning to meet projections from forecasting.
But most important, I am committed to develop a student recruitment process that is community based and that leads to a balanced approach to budget maintenance. Irrespective of doom and gloom predictions, we, Chicagoans, can overcome, if we are committed to creating a world class community college system at the City Colleges of Chicago.

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