It’s not often I feel shamed when I read a post, but this hit me in the gut.
I couldn’t really expect them to acknowledge the existence of community colleges. There are only 1100 or so of them in the U.S., enrolling just under half of the entire undergraduate population of the country. By contrast, there are over seven schools in the Ivy League alone!
Of the four — count ‘em! — contributors to the “dialogue,” only one, Jane Wellman, even bothers to note the existence of non-elite colleges. Only one — Stephen Trachtenberg — has actually worked in college administration. It goes without saying that none of the four works at a community college…
From this story, you’d think the greatest challenge facing students today is too much perfectionism. If only! Most of our students require developmental math. Perfectionism is the least of our problems.
Here’s a thought. Instead of wringing our hands over the poor lost souls who miss out on Dartmouth and have to settle for Bucknell — oh, the humanity! — let’s send some fraction of that money and time and money and focus and money to the institutions that actually educate most Americans: the non-elite publics. That would mean community colleges, and it would also mean most of the four-year state colleges. You know, the backbone of the middle fucking class. Those schools. The ones that actually compete with the for-profits, and that provide the best hope for most people. The ones that have taken draconian cuts even while their enrollments have risen. Those…
Elite college angst isn’t a symptom of the human condition. It’s a direct and predictable consequence of class polarization. You know, the kind of class polarization in which it never even occurs to some people that some colleges aren’t selective. Because they don’t mean to include those when they say ‘college.’ The kind in which other classes are so far removed as to become simply invisible. The kind in which you’d convene a group to discuss college admissions without once mentioning open-admissions institutions. That kind.
I’m tired of watching mysteriously-annointed experts solve the wrong problem. Times, if you’re the least bit serious about higher education — a colossal ‘if,’ I’ll admit — would it actually, physically kill you to acknowledge the colleges to which most Americans go? And when you do, could it please be in the same section of the paper as the stories about safety schools and selective admissions? The blind, smug elitism is really getting to be a bit much, even for you. Community colleges are news fit to print, too. Honestly.
I’m horrified to think that I’m one of those “elites”, but I’m having a hard time excusing myself. I need to do better.
(h/t Ezra Klein)