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 for the Nobel peace prize. 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 type!

Thanks to a guidance counselor, I went to a school  I’d never heard of, before rankings were common, and all one had to use was word-of-mouth and a fat green college guide. When I was at that school during the early 70s, nearly no students had a car.  Now they almost all do. Some even have two.

So…reading YOUR interview w/Ms. Solomon over 2 yrs ago got me thinking 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 was in DC  to hear 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.

I’ll quote Ms. Ryan 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.”

Kay is a devoted two-wheeler in her home County.
I’m passing this on to you because…er, I hope you will remember to include community colleges and self-propelled bicycles in the next interview you give.

Yrs, 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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