Thursday, September 27, 2012

What She Doesn't Say

What San Francisco Chronicle writer Nanette Asimov doesn't say in the following article,

"City College Has A Plan For Staying In Business,"

is that the "enrichment" classes which will be shaved back, such as the Memoirs and Music Appreciation classes she mentions, are most likely for Older Adults, and very definitely part of the "Adult Education" piece of City College.

As I hope people are beginning to understand, Adult Education in California in provided under either the shelter of High School districts, as it is San Mateo and most other places, or Community College districts, as it is in San Francisco and San Diego.

Adult Education at City College is called "non-credit." 

Call it what you will, it is still Adult Education and it is about to be hacked.

It appears that non-credit ESL, the same sort of ESL that is taught at San Mateo Adult School and Berkeley Adult School and Adult Schools all across this state, may be spared, at least in part.

I say that based on this line from the article: 

One major change already approved by the trustees is to shift City College's main mission away from free enrichment classes like music appreciation and memoir writing, and focus instead on preparing students for transfer to a university, earning an associate degree, acquiring career skills and learning to speak English.
However, let's take a look at that phrase, "free enrichment classes." 
Sounds like underwater basket weaving, doesn't it?
Crap we don't need.
Crap, we, the taxpayers, don't need to pay for, right?
But what about these "free, enrichment classes"?
What about stories like this one and this one and this one?
What about Herb's story?

Is keeping seniors active and healthy, out of hospitals and nursing homes, and off the Medicare billing system, something rightly labeled "enrichment"? 

Enrichment implies good but not necessary.  Like butter on your bread.  It makes the bread better but really what you need is the bread.

However, I would say that keeping seniors active and healthy for as long as possible is deeply valuable on many levels, including financial ones.

It is, in fact, necessary, if we were are going to avoid massive medical and support expenses as the Boomers move into old age.

San Francisco actually has a shrinking population of children and an expanding population of seniors.

But "enrichment" classes for seniors are the sorts of classes City College will be cutting and Ms. Asimov never makes that clear.

She doesn't go to the trouble of explaining what non-credit is and exactly how the mission of CCSF is changing and what that means for the people of not just San Francisco, but all of California.

Because after all, those seniors are somebody's parents and grandparents.

Nor does she mention Senator Leland Yee's rebuttal to what Robert Shireman thinks of CCSF's shared governance practices.  Instead, she stresses Mr. Shireman's opinion as if it is either the only opinion that exists or the only one that matters.

When people fail to question what they are told, all sorts of policies not in their interest can be put into place. 

A good education empowers a person to think critically and ask good questions.

When journalists fail to ask good questions about cuts in education, I get worried.

Luckily, the San Francisco Chronicle is not the only paper covering what is happening in community colleges.

The Los Angeles Times recently featured a good article about the community college system.  Click here to read it.

In times of crisis, as we are in now, difficult decisions must be made. 

The larger the crisis, the more difficult the decion, the more important it is to have full and accurate information about the causes of the crisis, the choices available, and the possible outcome of those choices.

It is also important to think deeply about the values inherent in the choices that led to the crisis and the values inherent in the choices we have now.

We, the people of California, must do our best to gather all the facts we can.  We must do our best to reflect on what led us to this point and where we can and want to go from here.

Will it be easy?


Will sacrifices need to be made?


But ignoring what is happening, setting for poor or lopsided information, or failing to consider what is really important to us, will not be easy, either.

Because while it may be easy now to turn up the volume on TMZ, the latest celebrity gossip won't drown out the pain we feel when our son or daughter can't find a job or our parents are withering from depression and  poor health.

We have choices.  And we need to make them. 

And to do that, we need to know what Ms. Asimov doesn't say in her latest article on cuts at City College.

We need to know how things work, and what we want, and what we're willing to do make that happen.

And then we need to do it.

And there's always this thought:  It is not because things are difficult that we do not dare, it is because we do not dare that things are difficult.”  - Seneca

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