The following speech was presented by Carrie Nepstad as a public statement to the City Colleges of Chicago Board of Trustees during the August 2015 Board meeting:
Good morning. I am Carrie Nepstad, Associate Professor of Child Development at Harold Washington College. This is my 13th and, as I understand it, my final year serving that institution. According to a recent announcement from City Colleges’ upper Administration, of the six Colleges that offer degrees in Child Development, five of the programs will be shut down, and all will be consolidated to the far north side campus of Truman College.
I disagree with this decision for two reasons:
1) it limits equitable access to high quality educational programs in Child Development for Chicago citizens on the south and west sides; communities that have been traditionally underserved.
2) it was made without input from the faculty who are the content experts in the discipline as well as in the field.
As a consequence of these closures, the commute for south and west side students is too long and adds undue burden to an already taxed student body. The CCC shuttle/busing program as well as the CTA are an inadequate solution to this problem. Expecting that students will be willing or even able to do this commute on a regular basis, demonstrates a lack of knowledge of the time it actually takes to travel across the city. It also shows a lack of empathy for real people who are trying to improve their professional and academic lives. This additional burden on students will negatively impact completion rates, but it will also negatively impact enrollment as students will either go elsewhere, or they will give up.
This decision represents a departure from the definition of a community college as community based. Students choose community college programs based on proximity to their homes and jobs. We will lose south and west side students to our competitors. In addition, we will also lose partnerships with four-year institutions that have been working with Child Development faculty to develop pathways from Associate to Baccalaureate degrees; partnerships funded through Race to the Top dollars and based on geographical locations between West and South side CCC campuses and four-year institutions nearby.
The Board may not be aware that on several occasions the Child Development faculty team has requested information regarding the C2C plan for Child Development programs. In addition to requesting information, the team has offered to provide administration with relevant content expertise, but these offers were not accepted.
Instead, we were invited to a meeting with less than 24 hours notice, during the summer, where we were given 15 minutes to listen to the announcement that 5 nationally recognized programs are closing. We were told explicitly that upper administration would not answer questions regarding the rationale for this decision, and that the decision is final.
This was a missed opportunity to participate in an informed decision-making process, to engage in shared governance, and to benefit from the extensive knowledge of the faculty and their connections to the field.
And because of this missed opportunity, we all lose. We lose students, and the students lose out on a high quality education from various accredited programs within their communities, which means the field will lose an educated workforce prepared and assessed by national standards of the profession. That loss eventually trickles down to vulnerable young children and their families on the south and west sides who will also lose.
But, I want you to know, that this institution will lose too. Each college will lose a team of faculty who have built 5 accredited programs, who are highly credentialed with extensive knowledge of the field, and who serve additional leadership roles at each of the colleges. But, most of all, the colleges will lose Child Development students who, despite the bone-crushing odds against them, work hard to better themselves so they can give back to their communities by teaching our youngest children under often very difficult circumstances.
Child Development is a humble program serving a humble field, but it has far-reaching benefits, and without it Malcolm X, Kennedy-King, Olive-Harvey, Daley, and Harold Washington Colleges will all lose.
I urge you to reconsider this decision, and to work with the Child Development faculty team, which has been willing and is most able to meet the C2C vision without losing so much.