Saturday, December 8, 2018
[Monterey County] Proposal for MPC trustee leadership training draws criticism as new members join board.
Blog note: this article references a grand jury report recommendation with respect to school board member training.
Shortly after the election of two new trustees to the Monterey Peninsula College board on Nov. 6, Trustee Loren Steck thought it would be a good idea to promote board member training to understand the complexities of good governance. He was inspired in part by a 2018 Monterey County Civil Grand Jury report recommending K-12 school board members receive more specialized training to quell district troubles.
“Our college has a lot of problems and we need effective trustees,” Steck says.
He made the recommendation to the MPC Board of Trustees on Nov. 28 – two weeks before trustees-elect Yuri Anderson and Natalia Molina are to be sworn in – requiring that all trustees complete training through the Excellence in Trusteeship program by the Community College League before they are eligible to serve as chair or vice chair of the board. He thought it was an “innocuous” proposal, something meant to help the college long-term.
Instead, criticism was sharp and swift. “Jim Crow laws” was one comparison made to the board that day, by MPC political science and ethnic studies instructor David Serena, referring to the “separate but equal” standard meant to segregate black people. Serena says he found it “suspicious” the proposal came as two women of color were about to join the board. (Anderson is biracial, African American and Caucasian, and Molina is the first Latina elected to the board since the college was founded in 1947.)
“The timing of it doesn’t have the best optics,” Molina agrees. “Here Yuri and I are the first women of color to serve on the board, and the people of our districts voted us in. They didn’t say, you can’t serve as an officer until you complete this training.”
She calls the proposal the “antithesis of the spirit of diversity and inclusion, which is why our leadership and our unique background is so needed.” She points out no other local colleges have a similar requirement for board members to serve in board leadership roles.
The Community College League training program can take up to two years to complete, with most participants taking about a year, according to Carmen Sandoval, the League’s director of education services and leadership development. It includes eight areas of study, including college accreditation, student success, ethics and the Brown Act. It costs $295, paid for by the college.
During the Nov. 28 board meeting, Anderson said the proposal seemed “heavy-handed and patriarchal.” Political science instructor and MPC Teachers Association President Lauren Blanchard called it “undemocratic,” saying it supplants the will of the voters.
Trustee Rick Johnson said he could not support the proposal as written, but thought a suggestion by Anderson to change the wording to “enrolled in training” instead of “completed” was acceptable. The board agreed to look at the wording and bring it back to a future meeting, as early as Dec. 12. The December meeting is traditionally when the board votes in its new chair and vice chair for the coming year.
December 6, 2008
Monterey County Weekly
By Pam Marino