• Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.

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Friday Fragments: Kudos and Kids

Aid packages, non-faculty jobs, child care and more.

June 8, 2018
 
 

Kudos to New America for its new report on the ways that colleges package financial aid offers.  Among other things, the report notes that many colleges present loans as aid, and often don’t make it obvious that loans are, in fact, loans at all.  

The headline refers to “transparency,” but I don’t think that’s quite right.  The issue is clarity. Credit card companies are good at “transparency” -- they disclose everything -- but they use such overkill as to defeat clarity.  If the goal is useful understanding, clarity is more important than transparency. A clean, simple, standardized format, like a nutrition label, could do a world of good.  Nicely done.

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Kudos, too, to Brian Rosenberg for his rebuttal to a really awful piece on “BS jobs.” Rosenberg notes -- correctly, in my experience -- that much of the non-faculty job growth on campuses has come in entirely new areas that didn’t exist 50 years ago.  When most community colleges were established, they didn’t have IT departments, disability services offices, veterans’ offices, or anything close to the financial aid rules we have now. Those all require people.

 

I’m often surprised at how uncritically otherwise-intelligent people will accept silly arguments when the silly arguments put them on the side of the angels.  Rosenberg gets this one right in a major way.

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This picture on Twitter messed me up for a while.  It’s a song for a kindergarten classroom, sung to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle,” and it’s about what to do in a lockdown. “Go behind the desk and hide, wait until it’s safe inside…”

 

We’re composing lullabies about school shootings.  That’s where we are as a culture.

I grew up in that gap between the end of “duck and cover” and the emergence of lockdowns.  The only thing we had was fire drills. The schools were brick; nobody was concerned about fire. 

I don’t blame the teacher who wrote that, or the one who posted it.  I’m just appalled that we’ve allowed it to become necessary.

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As forbidding as the economics of higher education are, the economics of daycare are that much worse.  I’ve seen daycare centers close or get outsourced at every college at which I’ve worked. The most annoying was the first: DeVry shut down its daycare center the month before The Boy was born.  They were making room for enrollment growth.

 

Now TB is a thriving honor student, and DeVry is circling the drain.  Karma is real.

This piece from Marketwatch about college day care centers struck me as the tip of an iceberg.  For working parents, and especially single parents, it’s crucial, and often unaffordable.

When TB was little, he went to daycare.  We paid $250 a week for that. Adjusted for inflation, that would be about $330 a week now.  On an annual basis, it’s higher than in-state tuition at Rutgers. Parents of young kids are usually early in their own careers, when their incomes are lower.  And there’s no financial aid for daycare.

So an envious tip o’the cap to Kingsborough Community College for not only providing affordable daycare, but even extending it into the evening.  Students can go to class knowing their kids will be safe and cared for. As far as basic needs go, that’s among the clearest. Kingsborough has found a way, somehow, to make daycare provision economically sustainable. 

Now if we could somehow do that across the entire sector, we might get somewhere...

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