Barriers to education. We hear about it every day: Children going to school hungry and not being able to concentrate in school. Children nervous about their safety and not able to focus on their homework. Poor schools. A lack of programs for those with disabilities. A zero-tolerance policy which creates a school to prison pipeline. If you ask anyone in those communities if the system is rigged against them, they’ll say yes — that the only way out of their neighborhoods is if they go to prison or get an education. And where do they go to get that education? The City Colleges of Chicago. But now, City Colleges is the one placing barriers to these disenfranchised citizens. The tuition increase negatively impacts 60% of our students. 60%. That is mind blowing. The leadership has decreed that only those who have lifestyles conducive to full-time studies should be put in a position to succeed. It’s like Seinfeld’s Soup Nazi: If you work full-time, no school for you; if you are a parent, single or not, no school for you; if you take care of an elderly parent, no school for you; if you are trying to better your life, no school for you. But, if you have no complications: no children and plenty of money so you don’t need to work, school for you.
If you can only take one or two classes a semester because you do have a complicated life, try registering online for CCC. It is nearly impossible. You have to declare a major, you are asked to choose classes based on “browse remedial” or “credit”, and your options are restricted to pre-determined pathways. It doesn’t matter what you want. CCC administration has determined what they think you need and if you disagree or want another path….NO SCHOOL FOR YOU.
What is the point of a community college? Well, in Chicago, it is to drive up graduation rates for Associate degrees so that the Board and Chancellor look good, and you do this by getting rid of the students who aren’t going to get a degree in a timely manner.
You continue to restrict student opportunities by moving programs to one school. If you look at 2013 numbers, approximately 18% of all CCC students attend Truman. That means, for 18% of our students, Truman is a good option because of location. Child development is currently offered at six of the seven City Colleges. Next year, those 82% of our students who attend another City Colleges will have to travel to Truman to complete their certification. 82% don’t matter, NO SCHOOL FOR YOU.
City Colleges has done a lot right for Chicago, but this restricting access is a hard blow for our most vulnerable populace. The long term consequences could be very harrowing. The administrators must be seeing a future rosy with increased graduation rates. But for the thousands who are negatively impacted by these changes, what must they see? Every tuition increase, every program being moved, every path being restricted means that for these citizens, City Colleges has become another system rigged against them, another way to restrict their economic movement, another way to keep them in a prison of ignorance, low paying jobs and potentially unsafe neighborhoods. “No school for you” might sound funny but there is nothing funny about what it means to the tens of thousands impacted by current CCC policy. I hope the Board, Chancellor and the other decision makers on Jackson understand exactly what the consequences are of the decisions they are making as they add more barriers to education.