Principal for a Day: Not in Charge of the School

It was never easy to get teachers to serve as substitute principal, or “teacher-in- charge” as the job was called. In fact the best choice for my school would have been the school secretary who combined great management knowledge with deep understanding for every person in our school community. But the law requires the person in charge of a school to be certified with a state teaching credential, so no secretary need apply.

It became even more difficult one fateful yet bright and sunny day in March when I was away for the day. A great teacher, Joe, with 10 years of experience in Special Education volunteered to take on the role of teacher in charge, and even enrolled in a university program to earn an Administrative credential. A substitute teacher was hired for his classroom that day so he would be free to handle any issues that might pop up.

The ambulances arrived at school before anyone knew exactly what had happened. A paramedic rushed into the office and asked in a loud voice, “Where is the child who got hit on I-5?”

Everyone was stunned. “What? We don’t know anything about it yet? What happened?” said the school secretary. Joe looked on in horror.

At about that time one of Joe’s 3rd graders, Jimmy, ambled onto the school grounds with three of his buddies. Jimmy was bleeding from a wound on his head. The paramedics rushed to him, made him lie down on a backboard, strapped him on and began to clean and bandage the head wound. It turned out the head wound was actually just a minor scratch that only bled well. Jimmy and later, his friends, were so impressed with all the action and attention that they told the truth to the paramedics immediately. They had indeed been the kids on the freeway. Joe and Betty the secretary knelt by the backboard as Jimmy told his story.

One of Jimmy’s older friends, Marcus, had dared him to run across I-5, four lanes of rush hour traffic, at 7:45am on the way to school. Students walked across a bridge over the freeway with a wide sidewalk about 3 blocks away, on the way to school every day. But on this day, Marcus stood on the opposite side of the bridge, looking at the freeway to determine when to give Jimmy the “all clear” so he could run across. When Marcus said, “Go Jimmy, Run!” Jimmy put his head down and ran. He had gone about 4 steps when he ran smack into the front right fender of a VW bug. The driver miraculously saw Jimmy coming and slammed on the brakes and turned sharply almost flipping the car. Jimmy bounced off onto the side of the freeway and decided he wouldn’t try to run I-5 again that day. After scrambling up the hillside, he crossed the bridge over the freeway and walked to school with his friends.

The driver of the bug became hysterical and sobbed at the side of the road. A call was made to the police and fire departments that a child was hit on the freeway. As traffic slowed and stopped and the ambulances were dispatched. But they couldn’t find him on the freeway with the driver of the car who showed them the dented right fender and cried uncontrollably. A tow truck was called and the highway patrol arrived to investigate. The children arrived at school. Jimmy was driven to the hospital ER, scanned, examined and released. No harm done. School had started for the day, but no kid was found along the freeway.

At about 8:15am one of the more volatile parents, Mr. Thomas, called in shouting over the phone, as he normally did. The secretary transferred the call to Joe, who listened carefully as the caller unloaded a raft of threats against him and the school unless he took care of some random problem his step-daughter was experiencing. Among the threats was a promise to “Blow your goddamn head off,” unless something was done. Joe just hung up and reacted reasonably given today’s climate and called the police, who were already on their way to the school to see about the child who was hit on the freeway.

When the police arrived, Joe let them know a Mr. Thomas had threatened to “…blow his head off “ (he edited out Mr. Thomas profanity) over the phone. Mr. Thomas was well known to the police for his carousing and drunken fights in a couple of local bars. So when Mr. Thomas arrived at school he was cuffed and placed unwillingly in a squad car.

Just as the police cars left the school at around 8:45am, a group of students arrived late. The entered the school grounds from the opposite side that Jimmy came from, as if the mayhem were coordinated. There were three of them, all 5th grade girls, laughing and shouting as they pushed, ran and alternately rode on the back of a shopping cart that contained a big white dog with a black circle around his eye, just like the one in the old Our Gang comedies. As they rode and ran after the cart across the parking lot and entered the school hallway (hallways are open, next to the classrooms) they were spotted first by the Janitor, Sam, who said, “Hey, how did you kids get that dog to sit up like that?”

Joe turned the corner of the hallway and practically ran into the little recalcitrant crew and the cart with the dog. It was obvious at this point, due to the smell and sight of the dog, that it was quite dead and had been so for some time. Joe glared at the kids and they knew they had been caught and were in trouble. Joe demanded they leave the cart and get to the office. They walked glumly into the tiny office where 2 of them sat in the available chairs and the third stood up waiting for Joe to follow in. The secretary, Betty, asked them why they were late and they confided that they were in trouble. Joe came in and the kids started to talk. Not at junior high age, they usually just told the story as they saw it and without any exotic lies. They found the shopping cart on the way to school and also happened to find the dead dog in a dumpster. The dog looked just like a dog on a popular and successful Budweiser ad on tv, Spuds Mackenzie, so they decided to see if they could get it into the cart. The dog was stiff (rigor mortis) so it sat up nicely. This made it easy to play out a scene from one of the beer ads with the dog as a member of the cast. The kids sang the jingle from the ad and laughed. Joe and Betty did not laugh. Joe called the janitor, Sam, who collected the dog and put it into the school dumpster. Joe became distraught at this final idiocy and yelled at Sam to call the animal control to get the dead dog. When he called the parents to tell them he had suspended their children from school for the day, each one protested. After all, the kids were only tardy and who could blame them for picking up a stray dog? It took a bit of time for each parent to understand the dog was actually dead. They still protested and only one actually came to pick up their kid. The other two stayed in class, and triumphantly became playground heroes by noon recess.

I called in to see how things were going around noon and Betty, the school secretary let me know everything was going fine. She was a marvel. But things were not so fine. Joe decided to quit his administrative program at the university by noon and sat in the office with the door closed the rest of the day. Nothing much happened so he was done at 2: 45pm when school let out. When I returned the next day, I tried to coach him a bit.

“You know there are alternate ways of dealing with angry parents besides calling the police.”

“Like what?”

“Well, you could say, ‘Hey, Mr. Thomas, we can resolve this peacefully I’m sure. How about if we calm down and talk a bit. Or more effective would be an approach that built on the relationship of mano a mano, like the one I already constructed with and for this man. Personally, I would have said, ‘Oh cut the bullshit man, what is the real problem here? You know I’m in charge here and you can trust me to handle it.’”

None of this expert advice had much effect on Joe. He had seen enough of Educational Leadership and Management to keep him in his classroom for the rest of his career. I thought of this day often when I began teaching as a new Assistant Professor of Educational Leadership 16 years ago.




The Teachers Pull Off a Midnight Burglary!

As a brand new public school teacher, I didn’t really understand how the organization worked. I really didn’t care either when I went to my first public school board meeting and heard the board chairman, ‘Stan The Taxpayer’s Man,’ as he called himself announce more than once that what they were supposed to be doing was saving money. Fine, I thought. I’m all for saving money. But I naively didn’t realize this translated to simple instructional supplies for my classroom and the classrooms of my new colleagues.

Old Zip, the ancient and venerable custodian was a neighborhood buddy of Stan the Taxpayer’s Man and also a regular voter in board elections. And somehow, Zip had the job of providing instructional supplies such as paper and pencils, pens and chalk to us teachers. But Old Zip took his position very seriously when it came to applying Stan’s slogan for us teachers. He was somehow in charge not only of getting the supplies for us from the supply trailer but also in charge of deciding if the supplies were needed, if we were worthy of these supplies. After all, it was important to save money.

So my first supply conversation with Old Zip went something like this. “Hey Zippy, how’s it going?”

“Fine Bill,” he replied.

“I’m going to need some more pencils and writing paper for my class by Friday. Do you think you could get them for me?”

“Well Bill, that depends,” Old Zip countered.

“Oh, what does it depend on?” I asked.

“What do you want these supplies for?” demanded Old Zip.

I couldn’t resist the temptation and said, “I thought I would use them to teach the kids to write.”

That kind of smart ass answer would piss off Old Zip, and just about guarantee that you wouldn’t get any paper or pencils unless you brought him a donut as a peace offering. I learned this from an experienced teacher. So when my paper and pencils didn’t arrive on Friday, I cut out at lunch to get Old Zip a donut. I brought two donuts into Old Zip’s combination broom closet and office, like I had no idea it was a peace offering and said, “Hey Zippy, I got an extra donut. Want shoot the shit for a bit

Old Zip said, “Sure Bill. How about them Niners?”

After we talked about the Niners for a while, Old Zip remembered that I had asked for some supplies. He said, “Hey Bill, do you still need the paper and pencils?”

“Oh that,” I said, “Sure do.”

“OK,” he said. “I’ll have Bob (another custodian) bring them over to your room after school.”

“Thanks Zippy,” I said. I concluded with a Niner based exit, “Sure hope our team does better this Sunday.”

“Me too,” agreed Old Zip.

Our group of five new teachers had a lot to learn about who was in charge of what at our new jobs. And it didn’t pay to rock the boat. The reason there were jobs for five new teachers is that they had had a revolution of sorts the prior year. The board fired their superintendent, a bunch of teachers left, and we were hired as the new crop. We were enthusiastic, optimistic, and mission driven, and the women in our group were extremely good looking. We also liked to go out and dance and drink at the local bars after school and on the weekends. And in this venue we bonded and were able to gripe about things like Old Zip and the school board connection that gave him ridiculous power over us.

In order to complain, we conspired to first go to the principal who was also new. The principal told Zip to give us what we needed, and Zip in turn told Stan the Taxpayer’s Man who called the superintendent and complained that the new principal was wasting supplies. That ended the option of having the principal help us out.

What we eventually learned came from the surviving teachers. We learned from them that the best way to insure supplies for your room was to collect them when you could, and then hoard them in locked cabinets inside your classroom. It was important to be the only one with the key or Old Zip might try to get the supplies back. One teacher had an entire closet full of the big double-lined paper used to teach primary kids to write. This also gave her leverage over her colleagues.

But as new teachers, we hadn’t had time to collect our own hoards. Still, we were not to be defeated. During one of our beer drinking and dancing occasions at a local bar, one of us hatched the idea of just raiding the supply trailer in the middle of the night. It might be dangerous but it would also be fun, especially if we had few beers prior to the raid. There were no alarms or cameras in those days and the night custodian went home around 9:00pm. But the problem was getting the key.

“Hi Zippy! Come on out in the sun and have a donut and coffee with us at recess,” invited the young women teachers, Maria, Kathy and Susan. “We just picked them up on the way to school this morning.”

Now these women, Maria, Kathy and Susan were not only fine teachers, they were also very fine looking as I mentioned before. Even an old guy who spent his days guarding a broom closet could be interested in a trio of good looking young women inviting him to sit out in the sun and have a donut and talk about the Niners. Thus, through stealth and guile we lured Old Zip away from his broom closet office long enough to get the key. Old Zip was thorough in his key management and hung keys well labeled on a wall keyboard inside his closet. Maria, simply exchanged a similar key with the one Old Zip had hanging on the board while he was outside around the corner with Kathy and Susan in the sun. When we got back to our building at the end of recess, we agreed to make our move at midnight.

There was only one little light in the parking lot closest to our classrooms, so we parked as far away from it as possible. Using flashlights to see our way into the school, we walked directly to the supply trailer, opened the door and went inside. There before us were stacks of colored construction paper in all sizes, crates of pencils and pens, many boxes of lined writing paper for primary and middle grades, rolls of construction paper for charts or wall coverings and what seemed like thousands of boxes of unopened chalk, even colored chalk. There were also treasures such as cases of watercolors, little tin kits with paint brushes inside, hundreds of bottles of tempera paint in bottles, and several cases of classroom pointers, the kind that looked like a long dowel with a rubber point on the end so you could point at something on the board or on the wall in your classroom. There were also colored folders with brass brads so kids could make their own journals or collect their own work in something like little portfolios. We were amazed. And we started grabbing all we could, nervous like good school teachers that we might get caught any minute. We didn’t get caught and we made several trips to the car with armloads of goodies. We didn’t take the pens since they had been ‘saved’ for so long they had dried out. The paints were also dried out but we thought we could add water and make them work. Kathy came out on her last trip with a dozen of the pointers.

The next day Old Zip noticed right away that his supply trailer had been raided. He wandered the school sneaking into classrooms to find the culprits. But the women teachers put padlocks on cabinets in their rooms and when Old Zip asked why, they all said, “Oh, that’s for our personal feminine health supplies.” This turned Old Zip away every time. As a life long bachelor, he was just too embarrassed to press the case. The great triumph came from Kathy. She turned the pointers, those three foot long dowels, into math balances. Her kids understood equations, ratio and proportion better than mine or anyone else’s that year due to this wonderful tool. And Old Zip continued to stare right past the math balances every time he scoured our classrooms for the missing supplies.

Hyperactive Indian Camp

by Bill Rich

The 3 little Native American boys in the bus seat just ahead of mine crouched down so as not to be seen out the bus window. Each in turn sprang up, aimed a pretend rifle out the window and exclaimed, “Bang, got a white man! Bang, got a white man! Bang, got a white man!” One then turned to me and asked, “Hey, are you a white man?”

“Who me?” I said through my milky, WASP, pale face. “Heck no!” I lied. “I’m not a white man.” I hoped to buy some time before breaking the news to these kids.

“Ok,” said the boy and the little group resumed its game of shooting white men out of the school bus window.

Thus began the first day of my one-week summer job as a camp counselor after the teaching year had ended. It was great money, $500 per week since the project was funded through federal funds. My annual teaching salary was about $8,000.00 in 1979, so this summer job really helped with our new baby at home. I was hired along with one of my equally white colleagues because the county and local school district needed to hire credentialed teachers to comply with the funding requirements. There were a good number of Native junior high and high school students hired to help, and they were also paid well. And I love camping, hiking and fishing. What could be more fun than playing around for a week with a bunch of kids in the mountains? The radio was playing as we gained altitude on the two-lane mountain road.

The purpose of the camp was expressed well by one of my 8th grade students.who had been hired as a student-counselor based on his Native background and leadership potential. Sitting next to me he asked,

“So Mr. Rich, I guess we’re supposed to teach all these kids how to be Indians?”

“Yep,” I responded.

I had no idea how to teach anyone to be an Indian, so was looking forward to learning more from the adult Native counselors who were supposed to lead the camp.

“I’m sure we’ll find out more from the folks in charge,” I replied.

The music on the bus stopped on the bus radio and a serious sounding DJ said the program had been interrupted for an important public announcement.

“John Wayne has died,” he said, his voice quavering with emotion.

He had barely repeated the statement, “John Wayne has died,” when the bus broke out in cheering with whoops and Hurrays that continued for several minutes.

One of the little boys in the seat ahead of me turned around and exclaimed, “Somebody finally got that damned white man.”

But not every kid on the bus cheered. About a third of the kids on the bus were white and didn’t have anything to do with the Indian Camp. What were they doing there? It is an amazing story from this perspective, 35 years later. It turns out that the County Office of Education was actually the educational agency that wrote the grant for the Indian camp and that was in charge of managing the operation and curriculum of the camp. Since the grant writing team was small, as was the County Office, all grants came through the same small office in the Finance department. The general idea was and is to get as much money as possible in 3 or 4 year grants in order to shift funding for teachers and other staff out of local budgets which were always under tight scrutiny from folks like ‘Stan the Taxpayer’s Man’ so they could show how much money they saved.

During that particular Spring, the grant writers took on numerous grants that included both Indian Camp and Special Education needs. A small amount of money was available in Special Education to try innovative and exciting new methods in the treatment and education of students who were deemed to be Hyperactive. Doing their job well, the grant writers were awarded the grant and informed the Finance chief. From that point onward, it made perfect sense to simply combine the small Special Education funding with the larger amount in Indian funds so the Hyperactive kids could be ‘isolated’ (like variables) at a summer camp and a new red dye free diet could be tried on them. These kids had been put on a regime of regular doses of Ritalin to calm them down. Their camp experience was to be an experiment in taking them off Ritalin and restricting their food to something called the ‘Feingold Diet’ for the week. By the time the bus stopped, the Ritalin was wearing off and the cold turkey approach to Hyperactivity was about to be tested.

When we arrived at the lake, things went south immediately. Those kids ran off the bus yelling and didn’t stop or sleep for a couple of days.

To make matters more interesting, the people in charge didn’t appear. Or it also might have been that the people I thought were supposed to be in charge did not see it that way. A psychologist showed up to see how the hyperactive kids were doing and left quickly.

I had thought that this was a great failing in the running of this camp for several years. It seemed to me the camp was a perfect example of combining funding sources and purposes as a kind of pragmatic approach to providing educational services to children at the local level. But the combinations of funds can also result in patchwork programs that became surreal and the combination was something of an ‘Hyperactive Indian Camp’. This is the absurdity of budget folks with “programs, programs, programs” running education, as opposed to educators applying programs and instructional materials, creating curriculum for students they personally know and care about.

The rest of the camp week went both well and badly. The Indian adults and older Indian student counselors developed an active calendar of outdoor games, hikes and cultural learning. I confessed to my campers that I was indeed a white man and they told me I was ok. But culture broke out badly when my fellow teacher colleague thought it would be a good idea to build a sweat lodge. The Indian adults saw it, and were immediately offended for many good reasons. It is not wise for those seen as white dominators to teach (interpret) the culture of the dominated. At the same time, Native adults brought beer for after the nightly campfire.

I never found out the results of the experimental project to take the hyperactive kids off Ritalin and feed them the Feingold diet. I think that actually was not the point of the camp. The purpose was to try to increase efficiency in the delivery of programs by the county office. This efficiency was measured in factors such as the number of bus runs it would save to combine the groups of children instead of giving each a separate program at a different time that could be focused on their real needs. The experience also provides a lesson in the way the local agency can co-opt the purpose of a grant for its own bureaucratic needs, whether they be financial or programmatic or whatever. For instance, if you already have federal dollars paying for a credentialed teacher, just chuck in a few Hyperactive kids and the requirements of that particular grant will be met as well. In this way you have one grant paying for a good portion of another and no local funds had been touched. Was this education? The obvious bad news is it was camp education like swimming the lake with a bowling ball tied around your leg. On the other hand, and most importantly, I learned a great deal about both American Indian people and a bit about Special Education labels.



Me & Tony Talk About the Corporatization of Higher Ed on Facebook

I like the “On this day” app on facebook. I don’t teach anymore but I’m reminded of things I taught or read and what I thought about them, it’s good to reflect now that I’m an official “post-ac” (that’s a former academic, mostly adjuncts, who got fed up with the b.s. and left academia for greener pastures).

In today’s facebook feed I was reminded of an article I read in 2010, “What do we mean by leadership in an academic institution?” At the time, I was a busy Sociology adjunct at Butte Community College, I served on 7 committees, including serving as an at-large senator on the academic senate. I also applied for and participated in a two-year leadership program at my school called the BCLDI, or Butte College Leader Development Institute. I didn’t know it when I applied, but this was a program intended to train and develop future college administrators. Coming from sales and industry, I wasn’t put off by the business lingo, in fact, I embraced it and then later, rebelled against it. I realized I was being trained as a tool for the McDonaldization of Higher Education, someone who’s skills were being exploited for the corporatocracy, I’m a sociologist, it wasn’t hard to turn away from the corporate/leadership nonsense. I’d left Barnes and Noble (a bookstore job!) because a manager was hired from Staples Office Supply who didn’t read and referred to books as “units.”

At any rate, this businessification of higher ed has sucked out the learning and turned it into a meaningless path to the job market, where faculty are there to “serve customers” and where administrators are guardians of the bottom line; a world where for example, a chair who senselessly power wields and causes colleagues misery is kept on because, “she’s great with the FTE’s.”

Today, I had one of my great facebook conversations with my former prof, thesis committee chair, and good friend, Tony Waters. I could tell you about it but instead, I’m going to copy and paste our conversation right here. Make sure you give a click and read this first so you know what the hell we’re talking about in the conversation below: “What do we mean by leadership in an academic institution?”

Tony: “I liked the comment about academic leaders being recruited for their “marketing skills.” The higher you go in the administrative hierarchy, the more likely you are required to spend a great deal of time with donors. Another word for spending time for donors? Marketing.”

Julie: “This is good, just reread it. I copied this part because I think it highlights the issues with power wielding that come up when faculty take on administrative power: “One of the things that happens to their brains is that once given a title with some attached authority they start to believe they are taking on the mantel of leadership. The term is thrown around very loosely as if it is interchangeable with the title of authority. To be fair, however, many faculty and staff develop expectations that just because someone has the title of provost or chancellor, or whatever, that they must be leaders, as if by definition. A better term for their roles would be coordinator. The issue, at base, is how good are they at coordinatorship?””

Tony: “That’s also a good quote. I like co-ordinators. But co-ordinatorship can corrupt–and turn into a concentration of power. In academia it corrupts because people like me would prefer to ignore the problem, and focus on their teaching and writing. I think he also makes that point!”

Julie: “That’s the marketing thing you’re talking about, a little bit of authority in the hands of untrained faculty often results in unnecessary power wielding and lots of interdepartmental drama.”

Tony: “From the Dean level up, there is often an emphasis on “fundraising” from private donors very prominent in the job description because such fund-raising is viewed as necessary for the survival of the modern university. The problem is that the only people who have the money to be fundraised from are businesspeople who use their business-based views of the world to tie strings to “donations.” This is an important part of how the “business model” has become so prominent in university administration today.”

Julie: “…this is why President Zingg has worn out his welcome, once a college prez is “spoiled” by controversy they are a poor marketing tool for donors. They retire or leave under a cloud only to appear fresh and ready to sell, sell, sell at their new school. Butte’s prez was transparent with us about that when I was in the 2 year leadership program. I think that’s why I got encouraged to attend pre-admnistrator training, I have that sales/marketing background, it wasn’t a turn off like it was for many faculty.”

*Please share your thoughts on the corporatization of the university in the comments, we want to hear from you and commiserate!



Playground Safety: The Principal Investigates the Mystery at Homeplate

by Bill Rich

For many young parents, the school choice era made the point clear that just any school wouldn’t do, and just any teacher wouldn’t do. The parents had to advocate for their children to get into the best school and be assigned to the classrooms of the best teachers. All this new personal responsibility as a parent added to family anxiety.

For young parents whose children were just starting school, a big issue was playground safety. This was especially important to the parents of First Grade boys since they were the ones who got into the most trouble once they left the confines of the Kindergarten playground, and entered the vast and relatively unstructured world of the big school wide playground. Many of the boys knew how to play games such as tag, nerf football, softball, tetherball, jump rope, and they also knew how to play with indoor-outdoor toys such as trucks and action figures. But the kids from poverty backgrounds didn’t do very well at these pursuits. They knew how to fight and curse if a disagreement took place, and they knew how to throw rocks.

Now this didn’t mean the mothers of the kids in poverty didn’t want their kids safe on the big playground. On the contrary, they were the first to come in to the office, yell and curse and threaten me if their son got into a fight or was bonked on the foot with a rock.

As I gained experience being a principal I also was able to develop ways to improve the structure and safety of the playground. This basically involved seeing it as a teaching and learning environment just as important as the classroom. The big difference was recess was actually scheduled into the day as a contractual labor break for teachers. This meant there weren’t any teachers assigned to the recess curriculum. So it was up to me, and any interested parents and school staff.

The most successful changes included putting older kids in charge of stations for an activity or game where the younger kids could become involved in a kind of sheltered way. They could learn the games, the ropes of playground life from the experts, the older successful kids.

Teacher-aides, a classification of school workers who helped with children in and outside the classroom, took care of playground supervision. Since this was prior to cell phones, we developed a safety protocol that really helped the playground organization for everyone. Each playground aide wore a kind of apron with big pockets. The pockets contained whistle, band aids and special envelope of colored cards. If a situation took place where the aide needed to communicate with the principal’s office, she grabbed a kid and gave him a card to take to the office. A yellow card meant the principal should come immediately. A green card meant the child had been hurt in some way and he had permission to come to the office to get help (usually an ice pack). A red card meant, just call 911 since an accident and injury had taken place.

This system worked very well, especially when new parents came to visit and check out the school. They would typically ask, “How is your playground for safety?” I would say, “Let’s just walk out there now and see what’s going on. We can talk to one of the supervising aides and see what she tells us about safety plans.” I also enjoyed just walking around the playground when holding any kind of meeting with teachers, parents or central office folk. It was such a healthy outdoor environment that we continually improved with benches, play equipment, trees and every expanding fields.

But sometimes, bad things happened. One day, Shane, a first grade boy carrying a green card came crying into the office accompanied by another child as helper. He had been hit in the hand by a rock. The secretary gave him a bag of ice and I called the parent to come and see her child. In what seemed like a matter of minutes a car screeched and skidded into the bus zone at the front of the school and Tammy, the mother came flying towards the office, yelling and cursing and crying all at the same time. When she got to the office she began threatening as well.

“You goddamn assholes, son of a bitch what did you do to my baby? I’ll kick all your assess!” Her son began howling now as well since this seemed to be their ritual when he was hurt. She held him in her lap and rocked him in our office chair (small office) until they both seemed to calm down while the secretary and I stepped away to give them some room. But she was still outraged.

“Who done this?” she demanded. Was it one of those God damned Murphy boys? I’ll kick their asses. Was it one of those fucking Indians? Mexicans? I’ll gut ‘em. That’ll show em.”

“Oh my goodness,” I said. “Why don’t you and Shane come into my office and take some time together.”

My plan with parents like Tammy was simply to relate to her as a parent. I told her a story about my ‘Doctor Strangler” day, a story I made up about when my kid was sick and I put my hands around a doctor’s neck and threatened him, “If you don’t fix my kid, I’m going to break your neck!” The doctor told me to take my hands off his neck so he could work on my kid.

The parent usually laughed and I could begin to help them see that we were all on the same team. Tammy didn’t laugh but had calmed down and smiled, so I knew were getting somewhere. I let Tammy know that I would find out who threw the rock and punish him or her. The punishment was usually a week banned from the playground with trash duty during recess since this was such a dangerous act. An eye could have been put out and I was mad about it. Matching emotions, being mad with the parent always helped improve communications. I also said that she would never know who the child was who threw the rock since that was my job to handle at school. She nodded and after a while she and Shane were calm enough to send Shane back to class without the ice and Tammy drove her car home.

But Tammy didn’t really trust me. She and a couple of friends started hanging out at the fence about 50 yards away from the playground. A big church sat next door and they could park in the parking lot and stand at the low chain link fence and look at our playground through field glasses. I didn’t mind this and usually waved at them when I walked around the playground. But one day a yellow card was brought to the office by a breathless 3rd grader about an incident at the baseball diamond. Recess was just ending and I jogged past the kids who were coming in for class, except for one kid who was in trouble and standing with the aide. I looked over towards the church and the parents with field glasses were watching.

I asked the aide what happened and she pointed down to home plate. There lay a large, brown turd. She then elaborated that the other kids had told her that Mikey had struck out (with the plastic safety bat and the plastic safety ball) but wouldn’t leave the batter’s box. When they told him he had to leave, he dropped his pants and laid this turd right there in the middle of the most important base on the diamond. The sun glinted off the lenses of the binoculars at the church fence. “Did you do this Mikey?” I asked gravely. “Yes.” he replied, nervously licking his lips and swaying from foot to foot. “OK, I said. You have to clean it up.” He started to cry and said he didn’t want to touch the turd. I told him we were going to go to the janitors closet and get a shovel.

I sent the aide back to class and Mikey and I walked over to the janitor’s office and returned to the turd with a shovel. I made Mikey scoop up his turd and then walk carefully back to a restroom and dump it in the toilet, and then flush it. I told the janitor to sanitize the shovel and home plate and sent Mikey back to class with a note that he was late with me. I then called the parent who was very embarrassed. She came right to school and we talked about the kind of punishment this bad deed deserved. Writing sentences such as, “I will not take a shit on home plate,” was out because the kid was just starting first grade and couldn’t write yet. So we agreed on Mike spending lunch recess for a week picking up oak leaves and filling small plastic bags with them.

Meanwhile, at the church fence, the safety conscious parents had looked on but did nothing. I’m not sure they understood what was actually happening but being an optimist, I thought they would like it that I was out there on the playground managing safety, or something.

But the next day another bad thing happened. Shane and his buddies were out at the baseball diamond and started throwing rocks. This was not easy since I had assigned the janitors rock duty which meant they (along with me) removed the bigger rocks from the inbounds area to the out of bounds area next to the fence lines at the edge of the playground next the neighborhoods. So Shane had to go out of bounds sneaking away past the watchful eye of the yard duty supervisor and bring back some good sized throwing rocks.

Tammy had dropped by the office during lunch recess, just to say Hello and to tell me she had been watching the playground from the church fence line. She and her friends had come to appreciate what a nice playground it was and she was happy to have Shane at this school. Just about then, Shane came howling through the door, supported by two friends, hand to his head, blood all over one side of his head and face.

Tammy started yelling and the wonderful secretary, Betty, got wet paper towels immediately. As she wiped the blood off with Tammy continuing to yell, I asked the other kids what happened. The blood had stopped running down Shane’s head and he had a good bump on his forehead with a cut that might need stitches. The kids said that Shane and his buddy started trying to throw rocks through the chain link backstop at the baseball diamond. Then they tried to throw the rocks through the chain link at the top of the backstop that curved out over home plate. As they stood at home plate watching to see if their rocks made it through the holes, they were in perfect position to be hit on the head when the big rocks, too big to pass through the chain link, bounced off and came flying back towards them. Shane got hit on the second throw. Tammy heard all this and just stared at me. She was calculating what to do and who to be mad at. I said, “He needs to go to a clinic and see if that cut needs stitches.” I asked Tammy if she was calm enough to drive and told her I would drive her and Shane if she wanted me to. She said she was ok so off she and Shane went.

I called her apartment later that evening but no one answered. But the next morning Tammy and Shane were in my office with Betty and me before school started. Tammy said the doctor scolded Shane for throwing rocks in the air and that she knew this bonk on the head was not our fault. Shane did not need stitches so that was also good news. Tammy also cried and said she just wanted Shane to have a good life, a better one than hers which had been totally “Fucked up,” since she was in many foster placements and was now a single parent on welfare. Betty hugged her and I told her I liked Shane and wanted him in my school. (Rocks are always preferable to a turd on home plate.) I also needed her to help out with any ideas for playground safety in the future. She made Shane say he was sorry to me and I said I accepted his apology. He went to class and Tammy went home after peeking through the classroom window to wave at Shane one more time.














When the Principal is a Family Therapist: The Sad Mystery of the Faked Orgasm is Resolved

This mother was filled with anxiety about her daughter, a first grader in the classroom of an excellent and caring teacher. The little girl was dressed impeccably every day and the mother drove her to school and walked her into the classroom daily as well. Her anxiety drove her to follow her daughter to the playground and observe closely, interrupting children’s games to protect the little girl when she thought it was needed, which was often.

Normally, I was happy to have parent volunteers. But this mother was adding more concerns and work than she provided in assistance. The teacher structured helpful activities such as cutting out activities, supervising craft stations in the classroom or running copies on our ancient copy machine.

At one point, the mother became concerned that the teacher didn’t truly appreciate her daughter. She came to me to share her worries and I listened carefully. I had contact with her daily on the playground and seeing her when I made classroom visits. So I think she trusted me to a degree. I asked if she had talked with the teacher about her worries. She said that she had not because she just knew what she suspected was right.

“How do you know” I asked? “Did the teacher say or do anything in particular?”

The mother replied, “ I just know it, I know like my husband knows it when I am faking an orgasm. You know?”

I was fairly speechless and she was highly agitated, almost angry. I asked her to walk around the playground with me and talk the situation over. During our walk I convinced her it would be good idea to take a break from volunteering and let her daughter try to adapt on her own. Furthermore, she accepted the fake status I gave her as “Volunteer Administrative Leave.”

The next day, her husband brought their daughter to school late. He stopped to see me and shared he had taken his wife to the hospital. She voluntarily committed herself and was extremely disoriented. We visited for a long time and I felt his suffering was deep and extreme. His mother was planning to move in and help out until his wife recovered. I let him know we were willing to support in any way, transporting his daughter in case of scheduling needs or that kind of thing. He was grateful and left looking depressed.

A week later he came to school in the middle of the morning and asked to speak with me. We walked around the grounds as he shared his story. His wife had met a man in the hospital. She told her husband she had fallen in love with this man. When he told the therapist this information, she thanked him and said his openness at sharing this would be very helpful in her treatment. A few days later the father came to school again and in tears told me his wife had left town with the man. She had checked herself out with him, gone home and taken their checkbook for a joint line of credit on their home equity while he was at work and her daughter was at school. She then went with the man and bought a motorcycle and rode off with him. I asked him what he was going to do? He said this had happened before but he was really devastated this time. I felt I had to ask, “Why don’t you divorce her to protect your assets?” He said, “I just love her, man.”

What is School Ethnography?

by Bill Rich

David Foster Wallace tells us that the value of a liberal arts education is it helps us know what we should pay attention to throughout the course of our lives.

I’ve been writing about the hidden curriculum for adults and children during a career that has lasted over 40 years. The hidden curriculum is the theme that has tied together my early experiences as an elementary school teacher and principal, and more recently as a university professor of education. Over the past 10 years, my first-hand look at the hidden curriculum has emerged from my role as a consultant and contract researcher looking at issues of school accountability, and vocational education in prisons.

The classical definition of curriculum is everything that happens to students under the aegis of the school. But the ethnography of the schools goes one step further. Educational Ethnography is everything that happens to everyone under the aegis of the school including to the adults. It includes much more than documents. It also includes the story of that which is “hidden” from both the children and adults alike. It includes the hidden curriculum through which pre-existing social arrangements are reproduced, and particularly the power relationships embedded in those arrangements.

Schooling and education is dominated by the state that creates the institutions, the culture that creates the state. It is the needs of the state, culture and institutions that are served, not the child’s. Education is ultimately then reduced to a set of standards or to some kind of conceptual framework that serves the mythologies of the culture and aligns with the perceived needs of the economy and nation. The idea that the planned curriculum, the material and content we want to teach our students is the main focus of the school experience is one of the ideas I critique. Children, adults are all learning all the time at school. The questions for me are, ‘What are they learning? Why are they learning? And what are they experiencing that results in their learning?’

Those who lead our national and state efforts in education discourage thinking about everything that happens at school. It takes the eye off the ball, the mind off the goal which are the bureaucratic goals which preserve the bureaucracy itself. And it can be depressing which saps our ability to take action. Reformers encourage focusing on the things that the teachers and school staff can control and generally believe it is much more rewarding. One can improve lessons, make them creative, work on classroom design, administer ever more detailed evaluations of the acts of teaching, re-design school architecture and much more.

Yet much of the ‘everything else’ that happens is more fascinating and could be more important. At the risk of overusing metaphors one can describe the ‘everything else’ more completely by using them. For instance, if school is a garden and the little seedlings are the students, and the gardeners are the adults, then who is the mouse, the grasshopper, the rabbit the hawk, the microbes in the soil, the weeds and so on? If school is a woven tapestry and the students and adults are the weavers, then where did the material come from and how did those stray threads get in there? How did a green one appear when the weavers didn’t plan for it?  If school is a ship and the adults are captain and crew, then who are the barnacles on the hull, the birds that follow the ship, the diseases that the sailors contract?  If school is a gold mine, then what seam are we looking at when we dig? This is why I liked the metaphor of writing in the seam. I thought this is what I have been doing but still it doesn’t hit the mark.

The seams I follow are not fixed in place. They move like water in a stream. Best for me now is the idea that I am in the stream following currents, sometimes seeing the currents from above, sometimes from within the water, heading downstream where the water flows into a broader river, or sometimes upstream into rivulets or tiny freshets, or sometimes underground, invisible in a cenote of memories, facts, impressions, emotions and funny stories. In this writing, the currents are moving; what I see in the stream is moving; I am moving among them.

I have loved to be in the classrooms and walk the halls of schools whether as teacher, administrator or university professor. I have also loved to listen to children, parents and educators of all stripes talk about their challenges, victories, paradoxes and tragedies. In this way, the hidden becomes more visible to me. Yet, as ethnographer I know that what I see, what I pay attention to is provisional. Theories are turned upside down and replaced by new theories. My personal stance in writing about schools reflects a sense of play, intense curiosity, appreciation, joy, love and admiration, as well as the broader social, economic and political aspects of schools. Furthermore, it continues to evoke deeper and more visceral autoethnographic perspectives. School ethnography for me now is a pathway into a well-spring of knowledge and understanding about the tension among myriad human experiences and the nature of schools, even of society itself. It tells me what is important and lasting; what is truly valuable in education.

The Principal Tells the Truth about School Inequality, but Only During his Vascectomy

Serving as a school principal meant I became a personage of importance to some degree in town. Not important in the way a wealthy stock broker could be important at the country club, but important to parents, even the parents at the country club. To them I had special knowledge about the quality of the schools in the community, and because of that power over the destiny of their children. Like an inside stock pick, parents were eager to find the schools and teachers that were “good.” They defined “good” as being effective for the learning of their children, emotionally nurturing to their children, and a high quality curriculum.

But this also meant not being distracted by too many wild or poverty stricken kids who brought not only lice and scabies, but also something worse. They could bring their unemployed, poorly educated, and druggy families into contact with the children of the hyper-involved middle class parents who more than anything wanted to see success of their own children. You can’t blame them. Who wants their kids to be failures? These parents already know their kids are commodified and are trying to deal with it early. Middle class parents thought, “Want your daughter to be friends with a future jailbird? Not really.” So they guarded their kid’s contacts in groups such as soccer teams and schools. So I was rarely surprised when I was asked to give an opinion on a teacher or school—which was also a dog whistle question about who the classmates would be. Since the schools were often the only hope for these kid with problems, I didn’t want to stigmatize them (or mine) so I normally gave vapid generic answers like, “All the quantitative measures of curricular quality seem to average out among pedagogic styles of the schools and teachers.”

But I was very surprised on a special day, the day of my vasectomy when this topic came up. I lay on my back on the table, feet in the stirrups, fairly embarrassed that the nurse was attending this surgery and hearing the traditionalist doctor lecture me about remaining faithful to my wife once I was checked out as ‘shooting blanks,’ as he described it. But while I thought she would leave the role of discussant in our session to the doctor, the nurse joined right in and she asked me, “So, which are the good schools in our town?”

I replied, “You have me at a disadvantage, nurse.”

With that, she hit the exposed vas deferens with the electric cauterizing gun that the doctor earlier explained would help insure the best seal after he cut them, but also made me jump like the frog I resembled on that table.

“OK, I’ll talk, “ I said. “Maple Street School, my school, is great but stay away from Mesa Elementary.”

With that she hit me again and my legs jumped again. “What about Center Street School,” she demanded?

“It’s average, 2nd grade great but 5th grade is awful,” I confessed.

I don’t know if it was her newfound sense of power or if it was medically necessary but she got me a couple more times with the electric cauterizing gun and I continued to answer any questions about schools she asked. The doctor seemed not to care, or perhaps he thought it was some kind of moral training that should include pain, pre-chastening, ahead of the supposed temptation that ‘shooting blanks’ was supposed to bring.

Back at home, I lay on my bed, frozen peas packed around my personal parts and drank several beers. But I felt fairly better the next day so I went back to work.

It was still early, before 9:00am when Maureen, a seasoned and delightful first grade teacher showed up at the office with little Harley (yes, after the motorcycle) in hand. She said to Harley, “Now just sit here on the principal’s bench in the hall while I talk to him about the trouble we had.”

Harley said, “OK,” and hitched himself up on the bench.

Maureen stepped into my office and closed the door. In mock outrage she said, “That kid called me a fat old bitch and I am very upset about it. I’ve been on diet for 2 months!” With that, we both laughed.

“I’ll talk to him and see what’s up,” I said.

Maureen left and I stepped into the hallway to talk with Harley. He looked up at me calmly as I asked him if he said bad words to the teacher. He nodded his head.

“Well then,” I said. “That usually means you are in some kind of trouble.”

With that Harley flipped out. “In trouble” was probably some kind of trigger to extreme punishment or something else in his experience. He jumped to his feet on the bench and started screaming in a pretty severe tantrum. He grabbed a picture from the wall and threw it down the hall. He then just began kicking the wall first with one foot, and then the next.

I grabbed him from behind by his shoulders to get control of him. This was legal at that time since there were no guidelines for restraining kids. But he was really fast. He spun around and grabbed my necktie, yanked me towards him and tried to kick me right in the groin. This caused me to jump backwards but Harley didn’t let go of my tie. I was stuck between protecting my groin and holding off Harley. Naturally I protected my groin and Harley swung in the breeze, yelling and banging off the walls as I turned from right to left in the hallway.

Harley finally calmed down and I was able to get him into my office where I could call his mother. The little boy began playing with the blocks and other toys I kept so parents and I could talk without interruption. His mother came immediately with her own father who started yelling as soon as he got into the office. “Why are you picking on Harley?” he shouted. “I’m calling the cops if you don’t stop picking on Harley!” I handed him the phone and said, “Call them now so we can get them to help in this situation.” He stopped yelling and stared at me for a bit. This method always worked since I had a hunch he really didn’t want to talk to any police officers.

When Harley’s grandfather finally calmed down I spoke with the mother about Harley. She said Harley had always been like this, unpredictable and crazy angry. She didn’t know what to do. I recognized the flat affect of this mother immediately. She really didn’t know what to do, and apparently had no choices about where she could live. I told them Harley should go home the rest of the day since we needed some time to organize a program for him. The mother agreed, appeared compliant and said she would be back in the morning for a meeting time I set with the other staff.

Unfortunately, Harley’s family didn’t show up, and I never saw Harley or his mother again. As far as the middle class parents in his class were concerned, this was a good thing. No crazy angry grandpa or other similar family, no drugs, no bad peer group membership for their kids. The teacher was still great. And I wasn’t about to call the nurse with the cauterizing gun to tell her that sadly, things had improved for her child in the learning environment of one of my first grade classrooms.

A Message to the Incoming President of Chico State: The Faculty are Unhappy.


What does it look like when academics are sacrificed to other priorities at the university? This is the main reason Chico State faculty have issued a “No Confidence vote about the President of Chico State, Paul Zingg. Let me take my own Department of Sociology at Chico State as an example. We have lost eight tenure track faculty positions since 2011. These have been replaced with three new tenure track positions so far, and perhaps one more next year. This would be ok, if the total number of students we were asked to teach, or the demands for “accountability” were to drop. But in fact the opposite has happened. We have been asked to teach more students the same curriculum, and there are ever increasing demands for reports about what we teach and how we teach. And this is happening across campus, and at a time when we are told that the State of California is increasing allocations to the university so that we can offer students classes in a fashion that will move students along to graduation. From my vantage point, this is not happening.

It is true that this has been in part compensated for by the hiring of a few more adjunct faculty. Indeed, adjuncts, who are the most poorly paid, are now picking up the brunt of the teaching load demands in sociology with ever larger classes in a way that us on tenure track can have lesser increases. (Why is it that large lecture classes so often end up going to adjuncts, and not tenure track?) But we on tenure track are in turn pressed into service to write ever more performance reviews of the new hires, file assessment reports for the ghosts of accreditation reports to come, and so forth. I’ve already written a number of these this semester. Then there are the extra programs that are not typically written down in workload accounting: Master’s Theses, Honors Theses, Club Advising, Major Advising, Major, Curricular Innovation, and then at the very end seems to be an elusive “research.” All are disappearing from our work day as the number of course preparations, students, and bureaucratic demands increase.

In short the system of assigning work and workload is breaking down at Chico State, and the Vote of No Confidence reflects this. This is in addition to the other budgeting ills that Marianne Paiva wrote about yesterday in her blog Chico State: We Have No Confidence. It is indeed true that the Adjuncts have led the charge on these issues, as they are the most exploited in a system where their salaries are poor, and for too many of them there is little employment security. But tenure track faculty are also feeling the squeeze, albeit in different ways.

What should also be clear is that the capacity to deliver quality academic programs is also crumbling at Chico State. Quality demands faculty-student interaction, and this has suffered in recent years, even as there are increasing demands for accountability, assessment, and other types of reporting..

I guess the good news is that Chico State is undertaking a search for a new President who can perhaps develop among the faculty and staff already here a coherent vision for what can be done, and what cannot be done. But whoever the Board of Trustees chooses needs to come in with open eyes, that see that things are not as they should be. When he or she gets here, I am confident they will find allies on-campus to guide the campus in that direction.

Chico State: We Have No Confidence

For, if anything, if a university is not a community where truth-telling is paramount, it loses its soul and forfeits its purpose. — Paul Zingg, Response to Resolution of No Confidence, December 9, 2015

On Thursday December 10th, the Academic Senate at Chico State discussed a Resolution of No Confidence in university President Paul Zingg, Interim Provost Susan Elrod, and Vice President for Business and Finance Lorraine (Lori) Hoffman. After nearly three and a half hours of pre-written statements, comments from faculty, staff, and students, and discourse between the Senators, the Senate voted 24-8 in favor of an amended Resolution of No Confidence in the ability of the three top CSUC administrators to manage personnel and budget matters effectively.

The primary focus of the University is student learning and yet, financial and business decisions have been made since 2004 and more recently, that are contrary to best learning practices. The best practices for learning in undergraduate education include:

Good practice in undergraduate education:

  1. encourages contact between students and faculty,
  2. develops reciprocity and cooperation among students,
  3. encourages active learning,
  4. gives prompt feedback,
  5. emphasizes time on task,
  6. communicates high expectations
  7. respects diverse talents and ways of learning.

Source: Chickering and Gamson, Seven Principles for Good Practice in undergraduate Education (file available here)

During the Great Recession of 2007-2010, drastic and unavoidable cuts were taken to preserve the University and provide ongoing service with the least amount of disruption to students. Those cuts were necessary and unavoidable, but were also felt by all across the campus, although to varying degrees.

In the years since the Recovery of the U.S. economy began, the University has continued cuts to faculty, staff, and class offerings, increased class sizes, and replaced full time tenure track faculty with part time temporary lecturers, resulting in a model of administration of campus resources that is contrary to Best Learning Practices.

It is the new model of learning due to increased teaching demands dictated by the Executive Management, that resulted in the motion for the No Confidence vote by the Academic Senate. Criticism of the Resolution by President Zingg, Interim Elrod, and VP Hoffman included a lack of specificity in the resolution.

In his response to Academic Senate regarding the No Confidence Resolution vote, President Zingg argued the following:

There are many other aspects of this resolution that, I believe, fail the test of clarity and responsibility through innuendo and anecdote, unsubstantiation and vagueness. What, for example, does “the lack of focused leadership” mean? What personnel policies and processes have not been developed and implemented “effectively”? What is the definition of “effectively”? How have budget matters lacked transparency and good-faith information sharing?

In the spirit of truth-telling, clarity and responsibility, and without innuendo and anecdotes or unsubstantiated vagueness, we present the following:

  • Tenure track faculty decreased from 408 to 355 faculty between the years 2011 to 2015, a reduction of 13%. Tenure density declined from 69% in 2010 to 58% in 2014-15. These cuts have resulted in increased faculty to student ratios, which decreases contact between students and faculty in meaningful learning experiences,decreases reciprocity and cooperation among students, and also inhibits active learning, and inhibits prompt feedback on assignments,
  • Tenure track faculty have been largely replaced by temporary lecturers. While this has somewhat stabilized the faculty to student ratio, the work load for tenure track faculty in non-teaching duties has increased as there are not enough faculty to take on committee and advising work, assessment reports, retention and hiring duties, among other non-teaching activities that support student learning.
  • The number of staff decreased from 965 in 2009 to 891 in 2014 which increases demands on faculty due to lack of staff support, exacerbating the effects of higher faculty to student ratios.
  • Between 2010 and 2015, the number of full time equivalent students increased from 14,640 to 15,764, a gain of 8.4%.
  • While staff and faculty cuts have been deep, the number of managers and administrators has risen since 2004. Chico State had one of the worst losses of faculty in the CSU system, losing 14% of its faculty between 2004 and 2014, while the number of administrators has grown by 8% in the same time period.
  • While faculty salaries have increased by only 4% between 2004 and 2014, the salaries of the top 21 administrators within the Office for Business and Finance at Chico State have increased an average of 18% between 2011 and 2014* (Click here for Salaries of Management from Office of Business and Finance).
  • While faculty are fighting for, and being repeatedly denied, a 5% salary increase in the next contract, the President’s salary, although stagnant up to 2013, increased by 3% in 2014 and by 2% in 2015, a raise that equated to $5,758 increase in 2015 to President Zingg’s $287,885 salary, in addition to the $50,000 per year housing allowance and $12,000 per year car allowance the president has received in his tenure at Chico, a similar package other CSU presidents receive. Zingg’s raises in the 2014 and 2015 created a real increase in his salary of just over $14,000 since 2013. .
  • While faculty at 20 other universities in the California State university system are recovering their purchasing power since the Great Recession, Chico faculty have lost $13,154 in purchasing power since 2008, while President Zingg has gained $22,823 in purchasing power with his salary due to a 36% increase in the President’s base salary between 2004 and 2014.
  • Finally, the academic year 2015-16 budget was not released to individual departments until late November 2015, which revealed funding at lower levels than college deans, department chairs, faculty, and staff had been led to expect.  These cuts resulted in lecturers losing class assignments that had already been assigned, exacerbating the effects of higher faculty to student ratio, and also the projected loss of student employees who provide direct service to students in department offices, as peer advisors, and as library student staff. For lecturers, this means a loss of income for the semester and no prospects picking up other classes at other colleges since all scheduling at other colleges is complete early in the semester.

These longterm business and finance decisions have been the backdrop to a poor campus climate due to these decisions and because the Executive management has fostered a culture of fear of retribution due to longterm intimidation of employees to go unchecked. But more importantly, these business and finance decisions have compromised learning and inhibited Best Learning Practices at Chico State and for those reasons, we have no confidence in President Zingg, Interim Provost Elrod, and VP Hoffman.

CSU campus presidents have clearly prioritized managers on their campuses over tenure-line faculty in making their staffing decisions. That set of priorities has enormous ramifications for current, and future, students.
Not only are students today missing out on a stable faculty workforce over the course of their college careers; future students face an even bleaker prospect.


Source: California Faculty Association, Race to the Bottom: Salary, Staffing Priorities and the CSU’s 1% (file available here)

For direct links to resolution, responses, and data, click below:

Senate Document: Amended Resolution of No Confidence

Letter: Paul Zingg Response to No Confidence Resolutionfile available here

Letter: Petition Against No Confidence in Support of VP Hoffman

Report: Chico State Campus Climate Survey Results

Senate Document: Resolution in Support of Increased Staff

Data: *Salaries of Management from Office of Business and Finance

*Data compiled from