We need everyone’s ideas

Tuesday — as the college was beginning to digest our accreditation team’s report and the commission’s decision that we must “Show Cause” for continuing to accredit us (the highest level of sanction possible before revoking our accreditation) — I had a conversation with a CCSF faculty member about posting on this blog.

This person is thoughtful, articulate, and has significant ideas about how the college can improve and how we can address the accreditation findings. The teacher likes the blog and has things to say on it. However, as I encouraged posting, this person refused to do it, because of what he/she described as the danger of the “collegial” environment at the college. Basically, this person just felt there would be too much backlash from colleagues if she/he posted on the blog.

As I listened, understanding the need to protect one’s self against poisonous attack, I was disturbed and saddened. And unfortunately, it wasn’t the first time I’ve heard such concerns. What kind of professional environment do we have when members of our faculty do not feel they can express their views without reprisal? This kind of institutional culture inhibits innovation, creativity, and taking a chance on new ideas that might produce good results. This is the same culture of protecting the status quo that has led our accrediting commission to threaten to close the college.

In today’s fast moving, ever changing society, where technology is out-pacing our ability to adapt to it, we need everyone’s ideas about how best to leverage these changes and provide the best education we can. With the college about to undergo major changes, as a result of financial and accreditation pressures,  we need to make sure that everyone at the college feels able to discuss their ideas without fear and where innovation is encouraged, promoted, and supported. I believe our survival and our continued good service to our community depend on it.

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