Below you’ll find remarks I made to the Vice Chancellors at the Town Hall meeting last Thursday. The VC’s began with a half-hour of slides, which they said they would share. After their half-hour presentations, our students asked questions for the next hour. They were very engaging and mostly respectfully listened to by the VCs. Finally, faculty had a one-half hour block to ask questions. I encourage others to post on their experience at this event. I know Dave has already solicited comments.
Approximation of remarks made:
Congratulations to you all for overseeing the death of liberal arts at the City Colleges of Chicago. You have determined that our students only need specific courses and majors to succeed and you have arranged it to your satisfaction that only those courses and majors will be offered. Within three years we expect that courses which do not propel our students to jobs of economic value will be gone. You have determined that our students don’t need courses on art history to learn about great works of art, our students don’t need courses in training of the speaking voice to learn better diction and pronunciation, our students don’t need courses in acting to learn how to better present themselves. Music, philosophy, religion are all in jeopardy because of the actions you are taking. You have decided that those courses belong to the more entitled students at four-year colleges, that learning is for the elite, and that our students don’t need, can’t handle and don’t deserve a fully rounded education. What you don’t seem to understand is that our students deserve all that we can offer them.
A few weeks ago, Michael Heathfield was lamenting the seeming inability of District to get things right! He wondered what was going on at District and said that we should flip district so they would understand what was going on at the campuses. I thought that was a great idea, so I would like to encourage you to see how the process actually works at the campus level.
To that end, I invite all of you to spend a semester housed as the City College closest to your home, or the closest one not already represented by a more senior Vice-Chancellor. We would request that you work registration so you understand when we say the process still doesn’t work. We would like you to work in the business department and help the students navigate financial aid and faculty/staff navigate procurement so you’ll understand when we say the process still doesn’t’ work. We request you take a Developmental English or Math class and sit beside the same students you are treating as widgets and observe their struggle to formulate sentences, paragraphs and learn math! Perhaps you’ll then understand when we say your process doesn’t work. Come to a play, attend a musical performance, view the art of our students, all based on courses which under your system will likely be gone in three years and maybe you’ll understand why we say your process doesn’t work!
You might say you don’t have enough time to do all of these things and still do your actual job. Now you truly understand what our students face every single day of their life. They work full-time, they have children and they go to school. They make the rest of us look like we are standing still. So, I think you have time to do this for one semester.
Come to City Colleges and meet the students, come to the place where students are served and meet the people who serve them. You’ll be surprised how much we know about helping our students succeed.