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November Voters To Decide $350m Bond For Cerritos College

By Brian Hews

Voters who live in the Cerritos Community College District are going to be asked to approve a massive $350 million General Obligation Bond in the upcoming November General Election.
During a recent meeting, the Cerritos College Board of Trustees approved a resolution to place a measure on the upcoming Fall ballot.
The measure, known as the “Cerritos College Job Training and College Transfer Measure” and supporters claim it was drafted to “prepare local Cerritos College students for high-skilled jobs and 4-year universities.”
It also claims that the new bond money will go to updating classrooms, technology, math, science and computer labs, upgrading job-training facilities, providing classrooms and labs to accommodate growing demand, replacing leaky roofs, aging and unsafe buildings, facilities/equipment, and acquiring, constructing, repairing buildings, classrooms,
“Approval of this bond measure will enable the college to provide facilities that support academic and vocational programs that meet the changing needs of our students and better serve our community,” said Cerritos College President Dr. Linda Lacy.
The last time Cerritos College voters approved a bond for the Norwalk area campus was back in 2004. Those funds were earmarked for projects that are nearing completion.
In December 2011, the board approved the district’s 2011 Facilities Master Plan which provides “a framework for future development including the placement of new facilities, renovation of existing facilities and overall improvement of the campus to support a student-centered educational environment.”
“Additional funding beyond those provided by Measure CC is needed to implement the plan and maintain the college’s position as a valuable resource for the community.”The Facilities Master Plan is our roadmap to better prepare students for high-skilled jobs and transfer to four-year universities,” said Board President Bob Arthur.
Arthur is up for reelection this November along with incumbents Tom Jackson, Ted Edmiston, Tina Cho, Jeanne McHatton, and Tina Cho.
Arthur pointed out that “voter approval of the bond measure in November would generate a stable and locally controlled source of funding to update classrooms, labs and job-training facilities, which would ensure a safe and technologically advanced learning environment for the community.”
The measure calls for resources to be upgraded and expand facilities for career training in well-paying careers that do not require a four-year degree.
In addition, the bond calls for the installation and expansion of additional electrical services to accommodate improved computer technology and Internet capabilities, the repair of leaky roofs and replacement of aging and unsafe buildings, facilities and equipment.
Also, planned if the bond is approved is an upgrade and replacement of the campuses aged information technology infrastructure and network systems in which officials claim will “increase and improve efficiency and capacity.”
Upgrade outdated classrooms, math, science and computer labs telecommunications, internet and network connections.
Proponents also call for the upgrade support facilities for Veterans and currently active military personnel; the expansion of the nursing, dental hygiene, and health sciences department, and to upgrade and replace technology, computers, hardware and software systems, used for job training and retraining programs.
College officials also pointed out that the projects in which they would like to have completed will be on an “as needed basis,” and each project is assumed to include its share of furniture, equipment, architectural, engineering, and similar planning costs, program/project management, staff training expenses and a customary contingency.
Carmen Avalos, a former Trustee of the college, and a current candidate in Area 2 against incumbent Tom Jackson said she is “still in the process of studying the specifics” of the bond measure. “I want to make sure that if the bond is passed, and no fraud will take place by those who are potential vendors,” Avalos said.
“In these dire economic times, passing a $350 million bond right now may not be a priority with voters,” Avalos said.
John Paul Drayer, of Bellflower, a candidate for Trustee in Area 3 against Appointed Incumbent Jean McHatton said he wants the college to focus on “completing the current capital improvement bond” that was approved by voters in 2004 at a cost of $210 million.
“We haven’t even finished the job on the first bond project, and we haven’t had a comprehensive audit relating to that measure,” Drayer said. “Cerritos College needs to start thinking outside the box,” Drayer said.
Drayer also pointed out that voters in the Bellflower Unified School District are going to be voting on a bond measure calls for the establishment of a $79 million capital improvement measure. “Voters are going to be bombarded with tax hikes measures in November,” Drayer said in an interview from Bellflower City Hall on Wednesday afternoon.
He pointed out that the Bellflower City Council is also placing a local tax hike measure for the November ballot. “Makes me wonder how much voters can actually handle,” Drayer said.

  • I am very grateful for Mr. Drayer’s skepticism.

    The problems we encounter at Cerritos College are not problems of technology. They are problems of weak critical thinking . . . . The College has already demonstrated that millions and millions of dollars spent on the latest technology does not improve the students’ ability to read, write, and think. In fact, the reverse may be true.

    As students have become more dependent on technology, the essential virtues of good critical thinking seem to be in decline. There is growing evidence of intellectual laziness, impatience with things that cannot be resolved instantly, lost ability to read deeply into difficult texts, and rejection of personal responsibility for one’s own success. Actions as basic as using a dictionary and drawing comprehension maps, do not require another infusion of technology. They require a work ethic and reflective interest in learning new words, theories, concepts, and paradigms.

    I believe there is a corruption of priorities in education. The human factor is being devalued, and the obsession with technology is aiding that devaluation.

    The real solution is to hire the very best instructors. That is where money needs to be spent. That money can be derived from simplification of the infrastructure. But, this approach is not compatible with the vested interests of corporations who use the educational system as a gravy train of sales opportunities. At the same time, teachers are being laid off. This could mean the end of the teaching profession. Do I need to write a book?

    Let’s slow everything down and move toward a more humane and intelligent delivery of educational experiences. Right now, even students complain that the college experience is getting too complicated and impersonal. The tyranny of technology is probably killing the love of learning, because machines have become more important than people.

    By the way, some of the folks leading the charge to technology are not the brightest bulbs in the box. So, they are not likely to make the case for inventiveness, organic problem solving, and entrepreneurial energy. . . . . Technology has become the opiate of the incompetent! . . . . Let’s hear the counter-argument.

  • Sorry, this will be just as heretical.

    Yes, I see the value of technology. I am both a user and destroyer of technology. Would you like to see some burned out brushes on routers and circular saws? Would you like to learn how to fix a leak in a sailboat while at sea (Sorry, not the Titanic!) And so yes, I can change my mind upon further reflection, but the work instructors do at ground zero is what matters. And, since there are so many unresolved challenges at ground zero, it is better to concentrate on the quality of what has already been put in place.

    Frankly, I could teach logic under a tin roof or in foreclosed commercial building. You don’t need to provide a $350,000,000 remodel. What happens in the classroom today, however, is that students are already carrying the technology (they should not have). Even KINDLE carries apps for Google, so when it comes to learning, getting rid of the technology is more important than having it. How else can you guarantee that actual knowledge is being presented by the student. For instance, students can photograph a test, export it, and get answers back in a few moments. Or, they can carry data pens that hold up to 500,000 facts. Unless you are scanning the room for technological assistance, you don’t really know if students know.

    Many students now challenge the right of the instructor to ban the all-powerful cell phone (Just mark them absent or drop them from the course). Still others have trouble concentrating and focusing because they have become Pavlov’s dog. Their personality structure is bound up with the technology. They do not have a clear sense of the independent self, even though it’s what they need to psychologically healthy. I tend to argue: they are being brainwashed by corporations, pop-culture, and the media towards values that undermine the development of a calm, rational outlook on life.

    Bottom line (sorry, more heresy): The College is fighting a lost cause. You cannot be up to date on technology. All technology is obsolete upon purchase. Being innovative today means getting students to write cursive or type an essay without ‘texting’. Good instruction probably means a campus-wide ban on cell phones. It might mean face to face dialogue and conversation about one’s interests and goals. It means reading a difficult text with a dictionary and talking about its meaning in a room with other people. It means training in listening, memorization, studying in solitude, managing stress, vocabulary building, note taking, suspending one’s judgment, freeing the mind, proofreading, and remedying weaknesses. When all of these kinds of things have been addressed, the student graduates as a better human being, not a machine. Hopefully they will have had contact with a number of excellent instructors who inspired them to become a source of hope for society.

    By the way, one of “the light bulbs” I was referring to once gave a seminar on technology in the classroom, but could not field the questions from the audience. He had no way to Google it.

    Thought for the day: Frustration is the knowledge that one lacks the judgment, skill, training, and motivation to accomplish the goals that have been set.

  • Note: Sorry, I need to go on about this; couldn’t get it all together on Hiroshima Day (and editing in this format appears to be impossible, thus please accept this addendum).

    There is still the problem of who negotiates on behalf of the people if they buy into this bond. Is the current Board of Trustees a proven team of experts? If there are consultants, what is there relationship to the Board? How are they selected?

    There should be a public disclosure of the details of the previous construction bond (attached to the ballot measure as a voter’s advisory). Who were the negotiating representatives? What did they decide to purchase, and why (this is the center, isn’t it?)? How were contractors included in the bidding? What kinds of problems emerged during construction? How did these problems get resolved? Did the Board of Trustees really receive and understand all the solutions, and were they the best solutions? Did contractors accept responsibility for their own errors, or were errors somehow redefined as unforeseen conditions leading to a ‘change of orders’? Etc., etc., etc.

    Given these and other questions, a better way to approach this request is to reduce it to say $25,000,000, or even $10,000,000. Voters should argue for this kind of reduction to create a real spending limit (absolute accountability through material finitude). $350,000,000 is nearly a carte’ blanche’. Voters should also insist on the highest qualifications for construction managers and college administrators. There should be performance guarantees in the form of completion dates and workmanship standards, etc. (These are common considerations the public does not always know or think about).

    If things go well, another bond can be added in the following election. But then again, $350,000,000 may be the right amount in one other respect: a lot of mistakes can be absorbed with $350,000,000. Even if one screws up royally, you’ve got it covered, so go for it.

    (The margins in this text are being blocked for some reason, so lease excuse any errors)

  • I am surprised there is not more debate about this proposal to fork over $350 million for construction.

    As an additional and different argument: due to the escalating costs of operating the school and the uneven quality of instruction throughout the college, there will be more pressure to abandon physical classrooms in favor of total online learning. Why put up more buildings that may sit uninhabited in 10 years? Many experts are already working on ‘the academy without teachers’.

    How do we feel about this?