Louise Jaffe for S.M. College Trustee

Louise Jaffe and Family
Louise at PTA Rally

Community College League of California December 2016 League Matters featured this spotlight on Louise...

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“My interest in serving and supporting community colleges has always been about my belief that community colleges can, do, and must serve and support the community, to provide real opportunity and eliminate inequality.”

Santa Monica College (SMC) Trustee, Dr. Louise Jaffe, believes passionately that California’s community colleges are critical to advancing opportunity for underserved communities and individuals, and that equity is an essential component of our sector’s mission.

During her 10 years as Trustee at SMC, Dr. Jaffe has served in a variety of statewide roles including California Community College Trustee (CCCT) Board President, Chair of the League Board, as well as service on multiple statewide committees. In addition to her work in the Santa Monica College District and region – where she has been SMC Board Chair, earned the PTA’s highest award, and founded the Santa Monica Lifelong Learning Community Project - Trustee Jaffe has actively participated in advocacy in the State Capitol in Sacramento including helping to position the League to play an important role in the successful passage of CCLC-sponsored AB 288 by AssemblyMember Chris Holden. The College and Career Access Pathways Act advances core values and beliefs championed by Trustee Jaffe including: strengthening connections between P-12 and postsecondary education; increasing access and opportunity for underserved students; and more effectively utilizing high school as a stepping stone for success in college.

Indeed, it is difficult to think of a California Community College Trustee who has been more involved and active at the state level as both an advocate and educational expert than Louise Jaffe. Illustrating her commitment to higher education, alignment with p-12, and lifelong learning, Trustee Jaffe earned a doctorate from UCLA in educational leadership in 2012 with her dissertation "Mathematics from High School to Community College: Preparation, Articulation, and College Un-readiness."

Asked how she first became interested in serving and supporting community colleges, Dr. Jaffe explains that she had an epiphany when her children were in elementary school that Santa Monica should become a model lifelong learning community. And when former SMC Trustee Dorothy Ehrhart-Morrison suggested that she would make a fine trustee, Jaffe embraced the opportunity and challenge. With her youngest child about to graduate from high school, the role of SMC Trustee appeared a logical extension of the PTA work she had been doing to promote the importance of learning from cradle to grave and excellence in public education as quality of life issues for the entire community.

Trustee Jaffe marvels at SMC’s contributions to the local community, as well as the dedication and intelligence of the student-focused educators our sector has throughout the state. She observes, “We have a lot of great people working diligently to ensure our system works well for our students.”

Asked about the most important issues facing California’s Community Colleges, Jaffe explains, “Prior to the November 2016 election, I would have said student success and equity and that includes significantly increasing California’s capacity to grant baccalaureate degrees. But now we also have to be really concerned and diligent about ensuring access and safety for our undocumented students and all of our students.”

When she’s not busy serving the Santa Monica District, working on statewide committees dealing with institutional effectiveness, assessment, and academic quality, you may find Louise spending time with her husband and daughters, going for walks, or taking in a UCLA Basketball game. Still, as those familiar with her work ethic know, you are more likely to find her engaging with educational policy and advocating on behalf of students, than watching her Bruins at Pauley Pavilion.

Recommended Reading
Performance Funding for Higher Education.
By Dougherty, K.J., Jones, Sosanya M., Lahr, Hana, Natow, Rebecca S., Pheatt, Lara, Reddy, (2016).
Baltimore, MD., Johns Hopkins University Press.

To many, the primary logical premises supporting performance funding for public postsecondary education appear straightforward: the global economy requires a more highly skilled and educated workforce; public colleges and universities in the US "produce" an insufficient number of graduates, and too many students entering college with the goal of graduating fail to complete.  State funding formulas for public postsecondary institutions have historically been based on enrollment, thus incentivizing colleges and universities to focus on recruitment and maximizing enrollment.  Since financial incentives strongly influence institutional behavior, altering those incentives to reward persistence and degree completion will result in organizational programs, practices, and behaviors focused on increasing the number and percentage of college graduates and overall degree attainment.

With more than 30 states employing some form of performance funding, what does the evidence demonstrate about the efficacy of performance funding and the aforementioned logical foundation that supports it?  Moreover, what policy instruments have states employed to influence institutional behavior? And what deliberative processes have colleges and universities used to determine their response to performance funding?

In their thoroughly researched and important book, Kevin J. Dougherty, Sosanya M. Jones, Hana Lahr, Rebecca S. Natow, Lara Pheatt, and Vikash Reddy of the Community College Research Center (CCRC) at Teachers College, Columbia University, present findings from their three-year study of the implementation and impacts of performance funding among 18 public postsecondary institutions in Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee.

The book describes the policy instruments employed by these states to implement performance funding; the organizational processes institutions used to determine their responses to this approach, and analyzes the influence of performance funding on institutional policies and programs.  The authors review the impacts of performance funding on student outcomes, obstacles encountered by institutions, as well as performance funding’s unintended effects.  The authors include an appendices describing the nature and history of performance funding in Indiana, Ohio, and Tennessee, and the researcher's interview protocol for policymakers and academic subjects participating in the study.

Dougherty et al. conclude that while performance funding influences colleges to change policies and practices – most notably approaches to developmental education and/or advising and counseling - performance funding has unintended consequences, inappropriate performance measures, and insufficient organizational structure. READ MORE.

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