In the eighth of eleven PACE Working Papers, W. Norton Grubb et al, continue their analysis of basic skills education in California Community Colleges.
Instruction in developmental education is not simply a matter of what happens in the classroom. The colleges in which classrooms are embedded have their own influences on what happens inside the classroom. In this working paper we examine funding and resource issues, and the dominant ways resources are spent; and the funding from the state’s Basic Skills Initiative. In a subsequent working paper, No. 9, we analyze five additional institutional issues: 1. the influence of the course as the basic unit of educational provision; 2. the importance and form of professional development; 3. the crucial role of adjunct faculty, and their isolation from the rest of the institution; 4. the notion of data-driven reform; 5. the community college as a laissez-faire institution, contrasted with some policies that move away from this model toward more coordination, centralization, and understanding of mutual responsibilities among both faculty and administrators.
These institutional influences make it difficult for individual faculty or even departments to make much change on their own. These also imply a large agenda for change — some of which require additional funding in obvious ways, and are therefore impossible in periods of fiscal decline, but some of which simply require using existing resources in different ways. Some of them challenge the nature of the community college in fundamental ways, making innovation that more difficult. But all of them have the potential to facilitate the improvement of instruction in basic skills in ways that make innovation an institutional responsibility rather than the idiosyncratic activity of individual faculty.