Bienvenido, Chancellor Salgado – Adelante!

So, we have a new Chancellor.*

Meet Juan Salgado–this interview from The Reader, published shortly after Chancellor Salgado was named a MacArthur Genius grant recipient for his work in community advocacy is a good place to start. Salgado is clearly connected to the city power networks and Mayor Emanuel–he also serves as a Commissioner on the Park District Board. Yesterday, I heard some grumblings about him as “anti-union” and guessed that it was related to his leadership of a couple of charter schools (and that seems to be the case–apparently he put up some resistance to one of his schools’ attempts to unionize, at least at first), but was happy to find this article from 2015 about unions and charter schools from just last year where, if you read through it, you’ll see him quoted as saying:

I sat down with Juan Salgado, the president and CEO of Instituto Del Progreso Latino, a nonprofit educational organization in Pilsen, a predominantly Latino neighborhood in Chicago, to learn what it’s been like for him to oversee two charters that have unionized with AFT. Salgado believes that unions have been tremendous assets for his schools, particularly around some of the more fraught questions of wages and benefits. Can such issues be resolved “without a union?” he asks. “Yeah. But can we move forward to actually run a school? Probably not.” The mutual buy-in at the end of the negotiating process, Salgado said, created a better spirit at his schools.

Though Salgado was explicit that he disapproved of the way the union conducted its first organizing campaign—the organizers caricatured him as an evil boss, he says, solely to advance their strategy—he still feels the resulting unions, full of organized, passionate people, are no hindrance to excellence. “Unions ask a lot of questions! And that’s OK,” he says. “Critical questioning causes reflection and makes sure you have very good answers. And they demand transparency, and transparency is important. It’s a value that we should all have.”

I love the idea of having a Chancellor who has a moral commitment to education as transformative, though, I’m reminded that Chancellor Hyman has a deep belief in that same principle. I’m a little worried that so much of the talk about education and schooling that I see in relation to Chancellor Salgado (and the Mayor) consistently connects learning and jobs/careers. Even while I understand the appeal and value of a pathway to work and pay, we have seen where that narrow conception of the value of a liberal education can lead. I am heartened by his commitment to (and experience in) citizenship preparation and GED programs and recognize those and his charter school experience as providing something of what Faculty Council asked for in regard to an “educational background,” and I hope that Chancellor Salgado will recognize that his experiences at Moraine Valley and his work experience are a long way from being a complete understanding of what we do and do well. (For example, he is quoted in the Sun-Times article as saying, ““The school that I run, 54 percent of our students get some sort of college credential before they graduate from high school. We need to do that in every school because that saves students and families money and advances them into higher education,” he said. But a credit is not a credential, and a community college is not a bridge from high school to college–it IS college. But maybe that’s just semantics. Certainly everyone in a new job deserves the chance to learn and grow and show what they can do. I look forward to seeing what our new Chancellor does and can do. Hell, I look forward to actually seeing our Chancellor in the colleges for something other than a press conference with the Mayor.

 

*I have to also say that I was also happy to see that the news reports were not mere restatements of the press release, but provided fuller context on situation that our new Chancellor comes into. I’m not sure if it was a fluke or part of the information provided by our current board and leadership or whether we have Donald Trump to thank for the new willingness on the part of our local press to not accept the pronouncements of City Hall as unquestionable truth, but I’m happy to see it.

7 thoughts on “Bienvenido, Chancellor Salgado – Adelante!

  1. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking lot about this part: “I’m a little worried that so much of the talk about education and schooling that I see in relation to Chancellor Salgado (and the Mayor) consistently connects learning and jobs/careers. Even while I understand the appeal and value of a pathway to work and pay, we have seen where that narrow conception of the value of a liberal education can lead.” Over the last few years, I have really wrestled with this issue of how to prioritize the many things we want a community college education to accomplish. Ideally, we want it to accomplish many things, but with limited financial resources, and with students struggling to make their financial aid last through degree completion, I do think we are faced with hard choices.

    I become more and more aware with each passing year of the physical and logistical struggles of my students: their inability to get enough sleep because they work the night shift, their challenges to not have family and personal struggles keep them from completing even one semester, let alone their whole degree. Confronting these realities is leading me to question my previous priorities regarding the role of the community college.

    I believe very deeply in the importance of a liberal arts education, both from the individual perspective (in terms of introducing students to the kinds of ideas and methods of thinking that allow them to make informed choices in their own lives, and at its highest level, as contributing to a life well-lived), as well as from a societal perspective (providing the building blocks of a healthy democracy and flourishing and ongoing development of humanistic inquiry). My personal mission as a teacher has always been to empower my students to use education as a tool to effect positive change in their lives and their communities. I think a lot about what this looks like in my classroom and also at the institutional level. Considering my students’ day to day struggles to create a stable life for themselves and their children, I have started to worry: might we be downplaying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs if we don’t focus first on our students’ need for employment?

    Or, perhaps the above formulation of my question includes a problematic assumption, and there need not be a “first” and “second” priority as my question implies. Perhaps we need to continue to look for creative ways to more completely integrate humanistic inquiry and the values of a liberal arts education into our career pathways. If this is the goal–to see the two not as separate priorities that we must rank, but rather parts of an integrated and holistic education–how do we get there and what will that look like?

    (My hope for the coming years is that we all [faculty, students, and administrators–both local and district] are all able to come to the table together in good faith to wrestle with these questions and find creative solutions, given the real constraints of our current financial realities.)

    Jeni

  2. Hi Dave,

    Thanks for your post. I’ve been thinking lot about this part: “I’m a little worried that so much of the talk about education and schooling that I see in relation to Chancellor Salgado (and the Mayor) consistently connects learning and jobs/careers. Even while I understand the appeal and value of a pathway to work and pay, we have seen where that narrow conception of the value of a liberal education can lead.” Over the last few years, I have really wrestled with this issue of how to prioritize the many things we want a community college education to accomplish. Ideally, we want it to accomplish many things, but with limited financial resources, and with students struggling to make their financial aid last through degree completion, I do think we are faced with hard choices.

    I become more and more aware with each passing year of the physical and logistical struggles of my students: their inability to get enough sleep because they work the night shift, their challenges to not have family and personal struggles keep them from completing even one semester, let alone their whole degree. Confronting these realities is leading me to question my previous priorities regarding the role of the community college.

    I believe very deeply in the importance of a liberal arts education, both from the individual perspective (in terms of introducing students to the kinds of ideas and methods of thinking that allow them to make informed choices in their own lives, and at its highest level, as contributing to a life well-lived), as well as from a societal perspective (providing the building blocks of a healthy democracy and flourishing and ongoing development of humanistic inquiry). My personal mission as a teacher has always been to empower my students to use education as a tool to effect positive change in their lives and their communities. I think a lot about what this looks like in my classroom and also at the institutional level. Considering my students’ day to day struggles to create a stable life for themselves and their children, I have started to worry: might we be downplaying Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs if we don’t focus first on our students’ need for employment?

    Or, perhaps the above formulation of my question includes a problematic assumption, and there need not be a “first” and “second” priority as my question implies. Perhaps we need to continue to look for creative ways to more completely integrate humanistic inquiry and the values of a liberal arts education into our career pathways. If this is the goal–to see the two not as separate priorities that we must rank, but rather parts of an integrated and holistic education–how do we get there and what will that look like?

    Jeni

    • So, somewhat weirdly, these ended up locked up in the Spam/moderation folder; not sure why. Sorry about that.

      It looks like you took the trouble to rewrite after the first one didn’t go up, but just in case there was some preferred phrasing in the first one, I green-lighted both.

      As for the content of the comment, I’ll need to think on it a bit. I guess my first thought is that students already come to our classes with the idea that it will (eventually) help with and result in better work options and higher pay, but if all of our discussion and rhetoric (and planning and the rest) revolves around that as THE benefit and value of the experience then we’re both under-selling and over-selling our abilities. We can do a lot of great things for students through our work, whether directly and intentionally and indirectly and unintentionally that is resonant and satisfying in deep and transformative ways and saying we’re here to get them a better job buries that and fails to draw attention to an important part of what many of us do and an important aspect of liberal education. But, at the same time, the truth is that I can’t really get any of them a stabilizing job and career, not by myself nor working in concert with great colleagues like you. We can help, but the student has to do the lifting there.

      I think you’re saying something similar in that last paragraph, but I have no answers to your final questions. I appreciate them, though.

  3. Hi Dave,

    With your permission, I would like to use some of what you said in our Faculty Council statement.

    Thank you,
    Jennifer Alexander

    • Sure, Jennifer (though, as I type this, I think I’m too late!); thanks.

  4. Very good blog post. Local 1600 will be reaching out to the new chancellor in the hopes of starting off our relationship well. We are cautiously optimistic.

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