Why do I volunteer for the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees?

This is a part time position. In the past, the Board met twice a month. They received $1,000 for the meetings. At present, the Board of Trustees meets one time a month via ZOOM. For that ZOOM meeting, they receive $2,000. For a total of $24,000 a year, minus taxes.

In truth, the Trustees cannot live on the money the LACCD pays. Not in Los Angeles. They work other political jobs -- and exploit their position in the public to extort 'campaign contributions' from the contractors, unions, and companies involved in the District. My opponents serve for the hundreds of thousands of dollars 'contributed' for the future campaigns for higher offices.

I am an academic and a writer. I write novels. I design products. I also volunteer as a director/cameraman for documentaries exploring the enviornment and cultures of foreign nations. Read my resume on my other website, VideoAdventures.Info/Payne. Though my present income always varies, my past earnings support me. I can work for the salary the LACCD pays. There are committee meetings from time to time. I can interrupt my work to attend the ZOOM meetings. And when the LACCD Trustees meet again in person, I can spare that time. I also intend to walk the colleges and attend classes to interview instructors and students.

We now live in very difficult times. The United States funds and supplies weapons for a proxy war in Eastern Europe. A resurgent Soviet Union -- Soviet Union? Yes. Russian soldiers seizing Ukrainian cities hoist a red flag with the yellow hammer and sickle. That is a fact. -- The Russian dictator wants the petroleum and mineral wealth beneath the cities he devastes with missiles and artillery. That war threatens the economic and political future of the world. Already, as of this day in October, 2022, the cost of vehicle fuel punishes workers and transport companies. And as the cost of petroleum to industry rises, the cost of all products will rise.

China and other emerging nations also present challenges for the future of American workers. Our workers cannot compete on the cost of labor. Our engineers must design new products, our factories must develop new production, our workers must be skilled and resiliant as new technologies appear.

I lived and worked in the nations of the third world. The people of those nations work incomprehensible hours in fields, shops, and factories. They do not lack strength, discipline, and intelligence. They lack education and modern skills.

The United States can only survive as a free, democratic, prosperous nation in a peaceful world if we meet the onrushing realities with our best minds producing the best products at prices the our people and the people of the world can pay.

The Los Angeles Community Colleges offer education and modern skills. And can offer more in this difficult time. For that reason, I am volunteering to help innovative members of the faculty deliver the future to students.

Allow me to paraphrase Retired Adm. William H. McRaven, who commanded the Navy’s special forces, the SEALs:

“ ... we struggle with social upheaval, soaring debt, unemployment, a runaway pandemic, and rising threats from China and Russia."

(The quote predates the Russian invasion of Ukraine. That war for the petroleum and mineral wealth of Ukraine threatens the economic future of the world.)

(I add another world-threat, climate change.)

The colleges must respond. And the best response would be to accept the intelligence, imagination, and drive of the instructors and students. Not the routine. Not the traditional. Not the retired-in-place.

The innovative. The creative. They who want excellence and achievement.

As a past university professor teaching at one of the Los Angeles Community District colleges, I saw students --- young and older --- stalled by the structure of schedules and limited courses. They wanted to race ahead. They wanted the advantages of college and the training the technical classes offered. Good academics and opportunities to work.

In this time of national debt equaling the total income of every man and woman, we need the most intelligent, imaginative, and driven minds to maximize our national production. We need more workers making more products for more value earning more money for our country.

Dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic --- and the coming pandemics -- requires public financing of preventive care and medical infrastructure. Our nation financed the rescues of workers and businesses through distributions of borrowed money. This plunge into debt cannot continue.

Despite the recent talk of a Federal gift of $10,000 to $20,000 as student debt relief, most graduates will continue to pay on debt with compounding interest for their college years. The State of California waives community college fees. The State does not pay for textbooks.

(At a faculty meeting, when I proposed cutting the expense of textbooks by offering on-line materials for desktops, tablets, or cellphones, the faculty at the meeting went silent. A staffer later told me they would not cut into the profits of the college bookstore.)

(Later, I offered fellows at a foreign university classes on-line back up of all the material, for desktop or cellphone, or, for the fellows stalled in city traffic, CDs or USB memory devices. In person classes, backed with all materials, all the time.)

The State does not pay for apartments. The colleges cannot offer housing and living expenses.

Yet the colleges can offer to cut the accumulated expenses --- by offering accelerated academics and opportunities to gain specialized training.

At another university, I worked one-month classes. Military and corporate students took one class per month, completed the requirement by intense full-time work, then progressed to the next class. These classes required I work full-time, on-campus and on-line. Students and instructor, full-time. In this way, the students advanced more quickly to degrees and qualifications.

The State of California and the citizens of Los Angeles invested billions of dollars to build the Los Angeles Community College District.

Why not accelerate the return on that investment?

In the new catalogs, the Los Angeles Community Colleges offer on-campus courses begining in the last week of August and ending in the third week of November, before the Thanksgiving holiday. Academic classes will meet twice a week, for a total of what? How many in-class meetings? Ten? How many Monday classes lost to other holidays? Can these short courses with so few meetings satisfy the State of California requirements? Excellent students -- young or older -- will succeed. How will the instructors deal with struggling students? And how will students balance the assignments of multiple classes?

Will the tenured faculty teach four classes?

As a part-timer, I worked two classes. The two classes required full-time work. Unprepared, undisciplined students dropped out. On-line tutoring allowed me to accelerate the excellent students. They succeeded.

However, in the new catalogs, the colleges offer far too many on-line courses. I cannot support total on-line college. Too much cheating, too much fraud, no learning to speak in a professional setting. Yet as I described above, I do support the concept of anywhere, anytime online back up of classes.

The faculty and administrators must deal with a new reality. Now, after two years, the colleges again offer classes on campus. Yet if a Covid-variant hits Los Angeles, the instructors must respond in real-time. (As I did on 11 September, 2001, at the Amphibious Warfare Base in San Diego. On-base classroom to screens -- same day.)

With billions of dollars of public investment in colleges, the classrooms cannot again remain vacant for years. Did all the faculty retrain in on-line distance instruction? Are they ready to go from classroom to screens in one day? Will the older, retired-in-place faculty resist the demands of the new on-line discipline?

In this uncertainty, student success remains uncertain. Yet faculty and administrator contracts enforce full salary and benefits at a cost of millions of dollars a day.

Look at the new catalogs. Who are the instructors? "Staff." Long columns of the name, "Staff." Those classes, if students enroll, will be taught by part-timers, adjuncts. I was one. Qualified instructors, recent graduates from universities, or, like myself, professionals with enthusiasm, energy, and on-line mastery will be parachuted into schedules without preparation.

No one trained this adjunct in the multi-million dollar college copy machines or internet service. I paid for my internet. I copied the course expectations written by the department Chairperson, I assigned the same textbooks as the department Chairperson, and the Chairperson told me: "The kind of students we get, do what is possible."

"What is possible?" I wanted to say, "I am what is posible. I went to LA Valley College, I went through Cal State, I went through UCLA, I wrote patent documents, I worked wars, I designed products, my novels went to bookstores in five languages, I put a book on the New York Times Paperback Bestseller List, I taught in universities, I'm what's possible!"

( Cease the rant, Robert .... )

Will the students meet the State of California requirements?

Will other colleges --- and employers --- recognize such haphazard classes or on-line credits? Before the pandemic shut down, the State of California questioned the accreditation of the Los Angeles Community Colleges. Will the credits students earn be cancelled?

As past student of the colleges, later as an instructor in universities and later in a LACCD college, I know the promises and the possibilities of education. Education made my achievements in publishing and business possible.

We cannot allow retired-in-place faculty to cancel billions of dollars of investment in the Los Angeles Community College District.

We cannot allow the failures of the faculty and administration to cancel the education, and thus, future careers for hundreds of thousands of students.

Again, I know the promise of higher education.

I lived it. Review my history. Social scientists now believe workers will move through several careers in their lives. I worked as a film technician, I wrote novels, I funded my own NGO, I designed for export to the world, I worked as a professor, and now I make documentaries as I continue writing and designing. I moved through several careers, strengthened and guided by education and imagination. And I continue.

With your vote, I can take my experience and imagination to the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees.

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