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Joshua Basrai

A&E Editor

This year, the people of California rocked out with their voting fingers out. They approved Prop 30; which meant taking money out of their pockets to benefit people they didn’t know personally.  In a postmodern world marked by what sociologists term ingrained selfishness and individualism the people of California rose above the nature of the day and voted in favor of tax initiative which benefitted California educational system and prevented what could have been 9.7 million worth of budget cuts across the statewide school system.  To show our gratitude, The Express has chosen the people of California as 2012’s Individual of the Year.

Things looked bleak early on for Prop 30 proponents.

By 10:00 p.m. on Election Day, the people of California nearly failed students throughout the state. Many early reports indicated that Prop 30 wouldn’t pass.

But this could not happen.

In a rally just before midnight of Election Day, Governor Jerry Brown declared victory.  Prop 30 had been passed.  Californians in the upper will see the most increase in taxes. Individuals with incomes over 250,000 dollars will see a 10.6 percent increase in their income tax. People with 1,000,000-dollar incomes will also see an increase at 29.13 percent.

Aside from pissing off the upper class Prop 30 will shell out a sales tax that will tax one penny for every four dollars spent for four years.

The difference was 715,394 votes or 53.9 percent to 46.1 percent, but Prop 30 spent most of Election Day behind.

The obstacles were immense. Nobody wants to pay extra taxes.  But the people of California knew education was a main priority.

“The people of California (get my vote) for having the good sense to pass Proposition 30 to safeguard the funding for K-12 and community colleges,” Jonathan Brickman, ESL Instructor at LPC said.

This is why The Express has chosen the citizens of California as 2012’s Individual of the year.

With the passage of Prop 30, school budgets can now be stabilized.  These changes directly impact students and faculty in a positive light. Because of the passage, LPC and Chabot can add an additional 156 full-time enrolled students by the end of the spring semester.

If Prop 30 didn’t pass, the CSU system would have lost $250 million, police departments would have lost $20 million, and Cal Fire would have been out $10 millions.

The bottom line is, if Prop 30 didn’t pass, schools would have found it even harder to overcome this educational fiscal cliff.

Californians proved to the rest of the country why they have the most progressive state. For that, The Express has chosen residents of California as 2012’s Individual of the Year.

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Aretha Welch

Editor-in-Chief

Nader Khalil is a relative nobody…but he somehow came in as the second runner up for LPC’s individual of the year. Khalil was only three votes behind this year’s winner, Academic Senate president Sarah Thompson. Whether his rise from relative obscurity to the top of the LPC totem pole is weirder than the reason he was even nominated is up for question. Eighteen-year-old Nader Khalil was nominated for person of the year after capping 7 votes from members of the LPC community. According to several of his friends, he was nominated because he “can do the Carlton (from the T.V. show Fresh prince of Bel Air) really well. “

While the reason they choose him may seem blithe and trivial, there is more to Khalil that makes him an interesting choice.

The Lebanese born mechanical engineering major moved to Pleasanton from San Diego in July 2011 and hasn’t looked back since, participating in cross country, open mic nights and even the business club here at LPC. But before his move, Khalil, who wants to have a career in developing robotics and troubleshooting robot-programming systems, was all over several local news networks for the research he did during his internship at Sandia National Laboratories while he was back in San Diego.

While only in his first year, Khalil, who is fluent in both Arabic and English and has a working knowledge of French, plans to transfer to one of the University of California campuses in southern California.

Travis Danner

Managing/Opinions Editor

For Las Positas College’s president Kevin Walthers, it wasn’t good to be king.

In October, during a meeting of the school’s Academic Senate, Sarah Thompson, the president of the senate, brought to light numerous complaints she had received concerning the performance of LPC’s president Kevin Walthers. The revelations and subsequent news coverage caused a campus wide controversy.

“They’re sensing a pattern of him being very impulsive, rude and unprofessional,” Thompson said during the Sept. 26 meeting. “Also interference of the job. There’s inability to get something done, because it’s being held up by him.”

Among the allegations aimed at Walthers were that his management style was often abrasive, he did not prioritize saving jobs during a period when the school’s budget was being cut and that he micromanaged issues unnecessarily.

Campus Safety Supervisor Sean Prather delivered pointed remarks criticizing the administration of president Walthers.

“He has made my job extremely difficult,” Prather said. “I’m willing to put my reputation on the line to say that I feel he is unsafe, and he lacks sound judgement being our president.”

The senate was on the verge of presenting a censure letter to Walthers, but ultimately tabled that letter after it was announced that Walthers would be quitting.

Walthers initially denied before finally confirming that he was in the process of searching for another job. He has recently officially presented his resignation to the district’s board of trustees. That resignation will be effective in Dec. 2013, pending Walthers finding another job.

Walthers defended his job performance, highlighting various measures he had undertaken to save the school money and better serve students. Those measures included the Foundation 55 program, raising $60,000 towards the school’s budget and suspending two dean positions which saved staff jobs.

In response to the initial article published in the Express, 40 faculty members sent a letter to the Express decrying the coverage of the issue as detrimental to the school.

“The person in this role (of president) carries a lot of responsibility and requires respect in order to be successful,” the letter read. “It is a journalistic duty to report on issues and conflicts. To do this takes courage. To do it in a balanced and respectful way is challenging, but essential if the integrity of the press is to be preserved.”

The letter also stated that “how an article is written can undermine the work of any future president.”

As a result of the Express’ coverage, two news articles appeared on news web pages in the Tri-Valley area.

In the meantime, Walthers is still the school’s president and LPC will soon begin the search for its sixth president in nine years.

Bekka Wiedenmeyer

Staff Writer

The end of the semester marks the halfway point for current faculty members in leadership positions at Las Positas College.

At the end of the academic year in June 2013, faculty members such as Academic Senate president Sarah Thompson and chairman of the CEMC (College Enrollment Management Committee) Thomas Orf will be stepping down from their leadership roles as new candidates will be stepping up to fill their shoes.

“It’s unclear at the moment who is going to be taking on these leadership roles,” Thompson said. “There’s going to be quite a bit of turnover.”

Among those also leaving are Michael Sato, staff development chair; Lisa Everett, basic skills chair; Jeremiah Bodnar, curriculum chair; and Melissa Korber, faculty hiring prioritization chair.

Different factors are involved in faculty members’ decisions for leaving these leadership roles. One of the reasons is natural transition. Many stay for two years and then decide to move on. Occasionally one will stay for up to four years, but most will remain for two.

“Every once in awhile you’ll get someone exceptional who will do it for four,” Thompson said, “but for most people, it’s a two year gig.”

Another factor involved in the decisions is exhaustion. Faculty members either elected into the Senate, into a Senate subcommittee or into a committee by the faculty union receive a reassigned load. A percentage of the faculty’s teaching responsibility is given to an adjunct faculty member, while the remainder of the load is dedicated to leadership responsibilities.

Thompson, for example, received a 50 percent reassigned load when she was elected into the Senate as president. Adjunct faculty members bear the 50 percent reassignment while Thompson both teaches and fulfills Senate responsibilities.

Back when the decisions were made on how much load to reassign when it came to leadership positions, the school was not facing the severe budget cuts and compliance measures with state mandates that it faces today. Here is where the issue lies.

“It’s not nearly enough,” Thompson said. “I don’t think there’s any chair here who’s getting enough reassigned load, which is why the exhaustion is occurring. There’s just too much.”

Thomas Orf, who has been chairman of the CEMC for three years, received a reassigned load of five hours when he was selected by the faculty union for the position. Along with regular attendances of DBSG (District Budget Study Group) meetings and chair duties, he is also a geography instructor at LPC.

“(I’ve been) much more overloaded this semester,” Orf said. “Have I earned the five hours release time? Yes, and then some.”

Whether or not this time of transition in which some leaders will be going out and new leaders will be coming in will be difficult for the school will be seen in the upcoming academic year.

“I think it’ll be — it should be a smooth transition,” Orf said. “Who’s to say?”

 

Aretha Welch
Editor in chief
Las Positas College has adopted a new policy to police the way teachers interact with their students in online classes. The school’s academic senate adopted the new Regular Effective Contact Policy at the last academic senate  meeting on November 28. This new policy means gone are the days of waiting for emails for days at a time. Instructors are now mandated to maintain frequent contact with students in their distance education courses. And they have to archive it.
The Regular Effective Contact Distance Education Policy states that teachers must not only initiate contact with students but must keep a record of the emails, blogs, announcements and groups discussions they create for and participate in with students.
The policy was initially controversial as the Faculty Association’s lawyer was reviewing how this would affect the job evaluations of teachers, but the policy eventually got the thumbs up from the Association and it’s legal representatives.

Travis Danner
Opinions/Managing editor
Most students at Las Positas College are aware that the school has a shortage of counselors. Soon, technology may make that problem a thing of the past.
For the past five years, LPC has been studying the implementation of software called Degree Works which will aid students in monitoring their academic progress. The software would allow students to develop their academic goals even without access to counselors.
The software was discussed at a Nov. 28 Academic Senate meeting and the school plans to focus group the new software beginning in the spring 2013 semester. The implementation of the software is being overseen by student record evaluator John Armstrong.
According to the software’s web page, Degree Works “provides a comprehensive set of web-based academic advising, degree audit, and transfer articulation tools to help students and their advisors negotiate (their) institution’s curriculum requirements.”
If the software is implemented, students will be able to log on and gauge where they stand academically. They will be able to see how close they are to specific degrees and certificates.
The software may also help LPC with another proposed change. The school is debating whether to automatically award degrees to students who qualify for them. As it sounds now, this creates a complicated situation for advisors who would have to search through confidential student records to determine who qualifies for degrees.
Degree Works would allow students to judge for themselves if they want to achieve certain degrees.
The implementation of the software, according to the Degree Works web page, when combined with traditional counseling services could allow “students receive the academic advice they need to succeed and your advisors gain new capabilities to help them counsel their students more successfully.”

Cressy Tylavsky
Staff Writer
While the state has championed 1440 degrees as a quicker, more efficient means of helping students achieve transfer — it is has created a whirlwind of paperwork for faculty.
The result of state law SB-1440, the law requires community colleges in California to create specialized degrees that guarantee students entry to the California State University system once they are completed.
While the deal sounds good for students, schools like Las Positas College are struggling to be in compliance with the new law.
“It is a significant amount of work to get this done,” Academic Senate President Sarah Thompson said. “We are all scrambling.”
Thompson expressed her disapproval of the new law affecting everyone in community college in California. She is in charge of the faculty and how the curriculum complies with the 1440.

“It’s a significant amount of work that the faculty will have to put in,” Thompson said.
Faculty must now change the curriculum for their classes. In some cases, educators are working overtime to create new curriculum to meet demand for the degrees, which is a painstaking process that begins on the local level and is ultimately approved by the state.
Even though the degrees are state mandated, it is still entirely up to each individual school to create the degrees and their reason for existing, which must meet strict state guidelines.
“Even though this is a state mandated degree,” Thompson said, “we still have to create a written rationale as to why we are creating this degree.”
Thompson also bemoaned the process schools have been required to go through when submitting degrees, often sending them back to schools for minor complaints. The state claims it is too short on cash to expedite the process.
“(The state is) setting a goal without the infrastructure to implement it,” Thompson said.
There are a few majors that will not have to change such as Geography and Mass Communications. For those that do, this is causing them to add curriculum and erase “non compliant” classes.
Thompson is quick to credit the work of her support staff in creating the new degrees.
“Without them I would have been bewildered by the process,” Thompson said.
The fundamental challenge with the new degrees is simple — instructors must focus on who attends LPC now and still spend the present working out how the future will look.
“We need to figure out how to best serve our current students,” Thompson said, “while still planning for this future of community colleges that is being shaped by these laws. It’s really quite a mess at the moment.”
Opinions Editor Travis Danner contributed to this article.