Community Colleges, bicycles, and the mind’s joy

(Letter to a reformer)

Esteemed Lloyd (Thacker, founder of the Education Conservancy)
I just found an interview with you when I dug up past (‘condensed & edited”)  interviews by Deborah Solomon.
Sunday’s NYT magazine had her interview with  Thorbjorn Jagland (Norway Nobel chairman), mostly about why they picked Obama. One of her questions rankled me:

DS: Here in the US, socialism is one of those words…where people worry you’re going to take away their cars and make them ride a bicycle.”
TJ: “Look at the welfare state (we) built. We have better cars than most of the Americans.”
DS “What do you drive?”
TJ “A Volvo
Me to self: DAMN, why didn’t he tell her that he ALSO RIDES A BICYCLE —he must—everyone over there does!
I’m at home sick w/cold so my ‘dudgeon’ is high but my energy for getting real work done is not there.

But I can blog!

Thanks to a guidance counselor, I went to a school  I’d never heard of, before rankings were common (I think–might be wrong…this was in 72-73). Since those days I’ve watched its ‘brand’ develop—and have been appalled by the whole ‘laundry service’ and ‘marketing’ thing….I believe they have jumped in both feet, and don’t much care what alums say (unless they care to donate funds for a yet another new science building or sports complex, once known as a field house).

When I was there, nearly no students had a car, but now they almost all do. Some even have two.

So…reading YOUR interview w/Ms. Solomon over 2 yrs ago got me thinkning more..
I was wishing you had mentioned ‘community colleges’ when asked about where one can get a good education these days.
Why am a writing you?
I jst was in DC hearing friend (Kay ryan , poet-in-chief of US) describe how she wants to celebrate community colleges –she started college at Antelope Vally Community College, in the desert near Lancaster California.

Here’s Kay  in the Library of Congress Gazette: “Right near your home, year in and year out, a community college is quietly- –and with very little financial encouragement-saving lives and minds. I can’t think of a more efficient, hopeful, or egalitarian machine, with the possible exception of the bicycle.”

Now I ‘m a bike nut, pure and simple.
Kay is, too.
And I’m passing this on to you because…er, I believe you will remember to include community colleges in the next interview you give.

Hope so,  JP

~ by jacquiephelan on October 26, 2009.

One Response to “Community Colleges, bicycles, and the mind’s joy”

  1. I ride bicycles and teach math at a community college in the south. I love my job. My college is around the corner from a big State U, so we do get many of the castaways, but I much prefer the first in family’s and the displaced homemakers and factory workers, and the vets. I make a difference at work every day. My kids may be prodigies, but they will go to community college if I have a say.

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