Name: Louise Jaffe
Occupation: SMC Trustee/Education Researcher/Simpsons Script Supervisor
Neighborhood of residence: Sunset Park
Marital status: M
Political affiliation: Dem
Schooling: UCLA Ed.D. (2012)
Highest degree attained: Doctorate
Hobbies: Hanging out with family and friends, attending lots of meetings re improving educational opportunities and outcomes.
Reading list: Currently reading “The Bully Pulpit” by Doris Kearns Goodwin
Last concert attended: The Simpsons Take the Bowl
How do you get to and from work? Drive to Fox, walk to SMC, fly to Sacramento
What is your connection to SMC?
SMC Trustee, neighbor, former and occasional student, huge admirer, big believer in SMC’s mission, and therefore big supporter!
Describe the role of the SMC Board in less than 50 words.
The role of the Board is to make policy decisions, be held responsible for the academic and fiscal integrity of the college; and hire/fire/evaluate the Superintendent/President. This is on behalf of the district’s voters, to actualize the mission of the college – serving students and community.
Do you think there is a corporatization of education at SMC?
No. Corporations exist to make profits for shareholders. SMC exists to provide open access to high quality public higher education to meet the personal and professional needs of our students and community. Our efforts are based on doing a better and better job of helping students meet their goals. That’s not corporatization; it’s accountability.
Does SMC need additional physical facilities? If so, where should they be built?
SMC has several major new facility projects in the works right now but will continue to need new or upgraded facilities. We still have “temporaries” on campus and need a new Math Complex. I expect that over time, replacement buildings and renovations will be built on the campus properties we already own — infilling rather than expanding SMC’s footprint.
Is the balance of local/non-local students correct on campus?
Balance correct for what? The question seems odd because it doesn’t have anything to do with educational access, quality, serving the community, or funding. If you’ll forgive me, a much more relevant question is does SMC meet the needs and desires of our local, incredibly supportive community? And the answer is YES! A new District Participation metric developed by the State Chancellor’s Office documents that SMC is #1 by far in the state in the rate of district residents who take a credit course. This is because SMC is able to offer so many opportunities to our residents. This year’s Fall course schedule offered residents the opportunity to choose among 1013 unique course offerings. The extraordinary breadth, depth, and quality of the educational offerings SMC provides to locals is only possible because of the co-enrollment of non-local students. I am very proud that we are #1 in district participation and very pleased to have this solid evidence that our community is taking full advantage of the unparalleled access to high quality public higher education that our mix of students permits us to provide.
Has SMC done enough to prepare students for the current job market?
Every year I’ve been on the Board, one of our Board Goals is to strengthen and expand Career Technical Education (CTE), formerly vocational education. But it is not your father’s voc ed. The current job market is constantly changing; in response, SMC is also constantly changing, evaluating and re-evaluating programs and grant/partnership opportunities.
To a great extent, and especially via funding decisions, the state determines CTE programming on a regional basis by industry sector. That said, SMC currently offers more than 70 degrees or certificates in CTE – these are the 2-year (or less) programs that lead to “Middle Skills” jobs. Last year, we awarded 1,373 Chancellor-approved CTE certificates, and 37% of SMC credit students take at least one CTE course. In recent years, we have added courses in logistics, recycling, and solar photovoltaic installation, to name a few. We just won a $2m grant to expand information, communication, technology, and entertainment career pathways.
Providing high quality relevant CTE programs (which tend to be very expensive to deliver) is an on-going and evolving process, challenge, and priority.
What are the benefits or pitfalls of offering 4-year degrees?
In the past 30 years, CA has built 22 prisons and only one new university.
The feared pitfall is that offering 4-year degrees would change the mission of the community college system away from open access. The benefit is that by offering 4-year degrees, community colleges could build upon this mission and provide open access not just to a 2-year degree as is currently the case, but to a 4-year degree which is increasingly desirable and necessary for many jobs.
Expanding the mission of the community colleges to permit the granting of 4-year degrees requires state legislation. Happily, Governor Brown just signed SB850, legislation passed unanimously by both the State Assembly and Senate, that permits a pilot project authorizing 15 different colleges to each offer one 4-year high-demand workforce degree that is not offered by any UC or CSU. The rationale behind this very narrowly crafted pilot is that CSU and UC do not have the capacity to meet the demand for applied workforce 4-year degrees that students need. Many applied fields – i.e. nursing – now insist on a 4-year degree for new hires. I supported this bill because it will help students and I will support SMC’s application to be one of the 15 pilot colleges.
Students who attend community colleges are disproportionately Latino students, low-income students, and first generation students. Permitting community colleges to offer 4-year degrees would provide a viable pathway for more community college students to complete college and achieve their goals.
What would you like to see change at SMC?
I would like to see all students achieve their post-secondary goals. Currently, statewide, most students entering community college are unprepared for college-level coursework in English and Math. The percentages range from 64% of Asian students to 87% of Black students. Being unprepared is the single greatest predictor of not completing college. Black and Latino students who enter college prepared have higher rates of college completion than White and Asian students who enter unprepared.
This issue of being unprepared has many dimensions and solutions, some of which are within the influence of the local community college system. At the state and local level, I press for a much closer working relationship and articulation between high school and community college, and better communication to high school students and families regarding the expectations and demands of college-level work. Increasing dual enrollment and concurrent enrollment opportunities and extending these opportunities to unprepared students is one strategy for closing this gap. At SMC, we are creating bridge programs like Summer JAMS and First Year Experience that both support and inform students as they progress to and through college. These are scale-able, evidence-based programs that make a real difference.
The assessment and placement process is also ripe for an overhaul, especially given advancements in technology and recent research (including mine) on the effectiveness of using high school measures for placement. I sit on the state Steering Committee that is working on this process. Additionally, SMC can and must continue to improve instruction and pathways, especially for remedial coursework, to better meet the needs of our students. SMC is providing innovative leadership in efforts to strengthen students “non-cognitive” skills, like ensuring a growth mind-set, advising and providing appropriate supplemental, tutoring, and guidance services, institutionalizing individualized Education Plans and many other initiatives designed to improve student success, especially for those students currently least likely to succeed. All of this work needs to continue, on all fronts, at full speed, until there are no inequitable outcomes and all dedicated students are successful.