College Trustee Candidate Interview Questions

LOUISE JAFFE




September 2006

  1. Why are you running for College Trustee?

    I believe that community colleges are perhaps the greatest American institution. Community colleges keep the door to opportunity open for everyone, providing people of all ages a chance to learn, a chance to get ahead, a chance to change and improve their lives. Santa Monica College is one of the finest community colleges in our state and in our country. It will be a great privilege and an enormous responsibility to serve on the Board of the College and to continue to improve this amazing institution.

  2. What has been your personal involvement with education in our community?

    • Founder, Santa Monica Lifelong Learning Community Project (www.smllc.org)
    • Past President, Santa Monica Malibu Council of PTAs (www.smmpta.org)
    • Past President, Will Rogers PTA and Samohi PTSA
    • Founding member and past co-chair, Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS)     (www.excellentpublicschools.org)
    • Past member, Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce Education Committee
    • Member, Santa Monica Child Care and Early Education Task Force
    • Past member, different school & community advisory committees and citizen committees for recommending &/or passing multiple school funding measures

  3. What makes you stand out among the other candidates? What special attributes, talents, and abilities will you bring to the College Board?

    My record as a proven community leader and effective advocate for lifelong learning and public education is well established.

    I believe (and hope) that my extensive experience in promoting lifelong learning, my knowledge of our cities, our school district, our college, and of school funding, my demonstrated commitment to ongoing communication and to community partnerships, my ability to focus on issues over long periods of time, my ability to work well with others, to bring people together to reach consensus, and most importantly to get good things done, will all be beneficial to Santa Monica College and to Santa Monica and Malibu residents.

  4. What do you feel is the number one challenge facing the College today?

    The number one challenge is to restore SMC's financial health while simultaneously improving student success, expanding sustainable vocational options, and improving relations and building trust with employee groups and the community at large. (Restoring SMC's financial health requires, among other things, securing access and adequate parking for students.)

  5. Do you fully support the agreement negotiated for the City of Santa Monica to provide funding to the Santa Monica Malibu School District? What was your role, if any, in crafting, supporting or negotiating this agreement?

    Yes. I absolutely support this agreement. I am a founding member of Community for Excellent Public Schools (CEPS) and served, with Shari Davis, for four years as Co-chair of CEPS while we wrote the Charter Amendment and then, with PTA support, collected 15,000 signatures to qualify the amendment. I have stepped down from CEPS to run for a seat on the College Board but I continue to fully support the agreement and I am very proud to have been part of the team that worked so hard to make such a significant difference for our students!

  6. The College is facing a persistent structural operating deficit, with ongoing expenditures about $3,500,000 more than ongoing revenues. The College is using one-time funds this year to meet the shortfall. What will be your priorities over the long-term to address this issue?

    There are only two ways to eliminate a budget deficit: increase revenues and/or reduce costs. SMC will need to do both. My priority will be to increase student retention and to develop new programs that will be financially sustainable for SMC and professionally viable for students. This will require careful analysis of new investments. Reducing expenditures will require careful analysis of the existing budget and the effectiveness of the status quo. Employee groups can perhaps play a role in recommending areas for containment as well as expansion. I also believe that working with the Faculty Association, and other education advocates, the SMC Board of Trustees should be pro-active in formulating and lobbying for State legislation that will increase annual funding for community colleges.

  7. Recent changes adopted by the accrediting commission for California Community Colleges now require colleges to identify measurable student learning outcomes (SLOs) at the course, program, and institutional level. This is a large and time-intensive process. What role should the Board of Trustees play in approving and adopting SLOs at the program and institutional level?

    SLOs are a mechanism to engender thoughtful analysis and to build consensus among faculty, administrators, and staff while defining the measurable goals of a given course or program. They are a mechanism for providing accountability and consistency that is respectful of and takes advantage of the expertise and professionalism of faculty and staff. It is my understanding that the Academic Senate and staff rather than the Board plays the most significant role in developing SLOs and that this work is collaborative. The role of the Trustees is to prioritize and strongly support the collaborative development of SLOs. As keepers and stewards of SMC's reputation, the Board has the responsibility of ensuring that the SLOs that are established reflect high quality and high standards so that they will be recognized and respected at four year universities and in the workforce, and that SMC students will be well-served by well-designed and well-taught courses and programs.

  8. The College has a number of joint projects underway with local agencies, including a project with the School District to construct new playing fields at John Adams Middle School, a project with the City of Santa Monica to construct and operate a new Child Development Lab School at the Civic Center, a joint powers authority with the City of Malibu to build a new college campus and to meet wastewater management goals, and a proposed project with the City of Santa Monica and the YWCA to build support housing. Do you believe the College is doing enough with other agencies or not enough with other agencies? What additional areas of cooperation, if any, should the College engage in?

    I recognize that the College is involved in multiple joint projects with other agencies and I applaud that. When government agencies work together, the public benefits. I believe that SMC and SMMUSD can work together more closely in programmatic areas, for example to increase College readiness and College enrollment opportunities for high school students. Transportation is another area where I believe our public agencies can achieve operational efficiencies and improve college-community integration by working more closely together. Workforce development programs and internships that partner with the Cities, the School District, healthcare providers and private industry should also be explored. Joint projects that involve the development of facilities, including parking and recreational areas, provide community benefits to both the public and the institutions involved. As communication improves and relationships strengthen, I believe there will continue to be opportunities for our lifelong learning agencies to collaborate and partner creatively and effectively.

  9. Do you endorse Measure BB, the Santa Monica-Malibu School Safety and Repair (Bond) Measure on the November 7, 2006 ballot and will you actively campaign for its passage?

    Yes. I served on the committee that recommended Measure BB to the School Board and I definitely support it and will campaign for it

  10. What is a priority concern you might have regarding the College that has not been raised?

    I worry that as traffic on the westside continues to worsen and land prices continue to rise, SMC will increasingly feel the impact of reduced access for both students and employees. If SMC is unable to attract and retain students or staff, our students, staff, and resident community will all suffer.

    Thank you. Please go to louisejaffe.com for more information.



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