Hailing a cab to nowhere

When is a cab not a cab? When it doesn’t take you to your destination.

I just read the news from CCC’s website about the Taxi Program leaving HW to set up shop at OC. Good news. That makes more space on the 10th floor for academics. Ya know, credit classes.

As I continued to read the story, I had to go over to one of the reinvention web sites while I asked myself, “What does the Taxi Program have to do with reinvention?”. I’ll save you having to click on the link. Here are the goals of reinvention:

  • Increase the number of students earning college credentials of economic value
  • Increase the rate of transfer to Bachelor’s degree programs following CCC graduation
  • Drastically improve outcomes for students needing remediation
  • Increase number and share of ABE/GED/ESL students who advance to and succeed in college-level courses

Where does the taxi program fit into any of these goals? Need an answer, meter’s running.

When an individual completes the Taxi program, (and I don’t know how many classes it takes) they don’t leave CCC with anything close to an Associates degree or an Advanced or Basic Certificate, do they? Last I checked I didn’t register a student for a taxi class. I’ve not seen transcripts with taxi courses. I’ve not advised students on transfer options with a taxi certificate (if that’s what it’s called?).

Yes, as the Chancellor state in the news flash, “This is part of City Colleges’ mission: to offer relevant education and skills training that drives Chicago’s economic growth.” What she’s referring to is the loose change in the seat cushion about efforts to focus on six areas, one of them having to do with occupation and the “College to Careers initiative including targeted pathways, industry partners and feeder bridge programs.” And a taxi has air conditioning if you just roll down the window.

This move has little to do with graduating, transferring, or getting students to succeed in college-level courses and quite a bit to do with generating revenue. The Taxi Program is not a college credit program, yet it’s being used to put CCC in the spotlight. Spin city at it’s finest.

The attention is on the owner of the cab company and the driver of the cab while the academic elephant in the back seat gets taken for a ride to nowhere.

10 thoughts on “Hailing a cab to nowhere

  1. Clearly, just taking back the space is going to make a difference in achieving the reinvention goals at HWC. We need the space. Keep the elephant under your hat.

    • I can agree to a certain point, hellokitty (good to hear from you during the summer), but only because the taxi program is leaving the college. Would you feel the same if the entire 10th floor was being dedicated to the taxi program?
      I’d like to hear from a faculty member at OH to get their side of the issue.

  2. Hello Realist, Students in the Taxi Program I believe do get a Basic Certificate which allows them to get a job once they pass an exam. It’s totally in line with having credentials of economic value. Also, MANY taxi students go on to get actually associates degrees. Taxi is not their only career. Many of the taxi students are doing it temporarily so that they can earn some money. Many taxi students have Bachelors and Masters from their countries of origin. They are going on to get degrees here. Did you know that all taxi drivers in the City of Chicago, got their credentials from HWC? That is pretty cool. One of my students from when I used to teach Spanish is now moving on to transfer to UIC. He has been driving a cab at night while going to school at HWC during the day. Anyway, taxi is a pretty cool program that gets people jobs. It’s two thumbs up in my book. Hugs to you! 🙂

    Ellen Goldberg

    • Thanks for your reply, Ellen.
      No disagreement with your words. Yes, the taxi program does prepare (or qualify) individuals to drive a cab and make some money while going to school. Nothing wrong with earning money to pay for tuition.
      My concern continues to be that CCC is promoting this as a big deal while, IMHO, it has a weak link to the goals of reinvention.
      Substitute ‘Taxi Program’ with ‘Fast Food Cashier Program’ or ‘Warehouse Stock Worker Program’. The goals of all the programs are the same. They “train” people to be workers, they don’t educate students to be critical thinkers. The taxi program isn’t preparing students to transfer to a Bachelor or Master program. It’s a terminal program.
      There is a limit to what can be accomplished with a Taxi certificate compared with an Associates degree or BC or AC in our credit programs. A J-O-B is not a CAREER. The focus of our City Colleges should be on the latter, not the former.

  3. Thanks for your nice reply, Realist. I agree with what you are saying, but I just think that getting a job is really a noble thing. So many student are really struggling right now not being able to find summer work. Critical thinking is a great things, but it’s only great if the ultimate goal is the get a job. One of my best friends from growing up got a degree in Art History. Can she think critically? Yes. She thinks great thoughts, but she is unemployed. When people grow up and leave college, they want to work and earn a wage. So much of our society is that our work and our livelihood defines us. It’s sad. In other cultures that I have lived in, people are more defined by other things, but in the US we value work. Case in point. I agree with you that getting bachelors and masters is an amazing thing, but case in point, I have two masters. The first masters in Spanish allowed me to teach as an adjunct and the second in Higher Education helped me work as a College Advisor. Obviously I am all for transferring to ones dream school. I love higher education. I think that it changes lives and that students learn to think about the world from multiple perspectives different than their own. Higher education made me the person that I am today, but I don’t think that we can take away from the equally important goal of being able to support oneself financially. It’s so important.
    Talking about taxi, that program is so difficult. Taxi drivers don’t have to necessarily think critically, but they have to memorize the entire city, landmarks, the grid, all of the streets. Many of the drivers need the job because they just moved from other countries and it’s their first job in the United States. Many of them are doctors and engineers in their countries of origin. You are comparing it to being a Fast Food Cashier or Warehouse Stock Worker. I am not saying that the Community Colleges should teach students for those two jobs, but I worked as a cashier growing up, and look how I turned out. These are dignified jobs that enable students to be able to support themselves. Many of our students need to work due to having family responsibilities, maybe even kids of their own, helping support their parents, paying for childcare, paying their bills. I worked at Starbucks when I was in between jobs. It was dignified work. I had a bachelors at the time, but it taught me about customer service and prioritizing my time to get the job done. These are skills that help me today in my professional life. No, a job is not a career, but you often have to have several jobs before you can establish a career. Yes, in theory we should be promoting professional internships for the students to work in professional settings, but there is nothing wrong with a student needing to pay their bills and working at Potbellys or wherever. Our students work all over the city.
    We are a community college. Our mission is to support the community. Community colleges historically support students being able to not only think great thoughts and move on to transfer but also to obtain job skills. They are both important. The taxi program gets people jobs, their livelihoods, and it makes people be able to sustain themselves. It does support reinvention.
    The next time you teach a class, ask your students how they are doing. Many of them are really struggling to make ends meet. They can’t find jobs. It’s so sad. I got the second job that I interviewed for in the Chicago Public School. Unfortunately, that will not be the case when our students graduate with bachelors. Getting jobs right away does not happen as much as it used to. Many students will have several jobs before they can even think about a career, and that’s ok.
    Anyway, I love the open dialogue. I guess that I see things differently. I worked at so many jobs growing up. So many. I worked at Kinkos, Borders, Starbucks, a movie theater, summer camps, a bagger in a grocery store, Applebees. So many jobs, and I turned out ok. They will too. Hugs to you Realist. Thanks for chatting. This is really fun for me to chat about these issues.

    • I agree Ellen. Good to chat about these issues. I agree with most of your words. If I have time, I’ll get another post up to continue the conversation. Jobs are good, but IMHO, they are not our primary mission.
      BTW, I like the respect with which you read and reply. High-five to you.

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