I bumped across this piece today. It isn’t rabble rousing, and it isn’t knee jerk reactionism to the recent calls for focus on completion from all corners of higher education. It’s even supportive of those ends, but with questions to consider, too.
Its author, Terry O’Banion, puts it like this:
“If this completion agenda proves to be successful, the outcome will be a significant accomplishment for our students and for our society. No sensible person will argue with these goals or outcomes.
“Fortunately, these initiatives are led by some of the most able community college leaders in the nation, leaders who are deeply committed to the core values of the community college. They are well aware of the pitfalls and the skeletons in the closets of the nation’s community colleges; they fully understand that cynicism is the sidekick of failed promises. They know our limitations yet they persevere — because the cause is good and the cause is right.
“Great movements, however — especially those cast as “urgent imperatives” — often have unintended consequences, and it would be wise for all of us to consider what some of these consequences might be for the completion agenda. We must ask the question: To what end? The savvy leaders of these initiatives, of course, have not been unaware of the larger perspective raised by the question: To what end? They ask this question every day of their efforts. They worry over whether the agenda is too narrowly focused, if there are sufficient resources, if college leaders are willing and able to deliver. They wrestle, and we all need to wrestle, with all of the following issues: …”
Check it out.