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  • Confessions of a Community College Dean

    In which a veteran of cultural studies seminars in the 1990s moves into academic administration and finds himself a married suburban father of two. Foucault, plus lawn care.

Friday Fragments
September 13, 2012 - 9:07pm

Quote from program accreditation visiting team leader yesterday: “Surprisingly, the faculty seem to respect the administration.”  I think that’s what they call a left-handed compliment.

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We had “back to school” night at The Boy’s school this week.  The principal, a nice man, desperately needed a public speaking class, but what really struck me was the number of times that everyone mentioned the statewide standardized test.  The principal mentioned it several times, the vice principal mentioned it, and every teacher mentioned it.  It became clear that the entire curriculum has been built around the test.

It even showed up in little ways.  Every subject gets one period per day except math, which gets two.  Math homework is posted online every day, so parents can get it if the kid forgot to bring the book home.  Teachers in key subject areas -- reading and math -- stay late one day a week for extra review for any kid who wants/needs it.  

I have to admit being torn.  Yay for some unapologetic academic rigor and focus, but there was a certain joylessness to it.  And I couldn’t help but notice how young most of the teachers were.

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The Wife is employed!  She has taken a paraprofessional position in The Girl’s school, providing extra help in reading and math -- there’s a theme here -- for kids who need it.  Academically, she’s preposterously overqualified, but the schedule works really well with young kids: she’s home when they’re home, whether it’s winter break, obscure holidays, or summer.  

The world would be a lovely place if work schedules more generally were more compatible with the demands of parenting.  It isn’t, so TW is willing to work well below her abilities in order to be able to be home when the kids are.  We’re lucky to be able to afford to make that choice, but it would be nice if jobs that required professional-level credentials offered more options.

As I know well from the college, the real issue is health benefits.  Someday...

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At a meeting this week, our finance guy referred to the college’s five year plan, which he said would culminate in a great leap forward.  Have to admit, it gave me pause.

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Was it me, or was the iphone announcement a little underwhelming?  I usually come away from those announcements with a bad case of gadget lust; this time, not.  

The breakthrough I’m waiting for is less on the gadget side than on the service side.  Right now I have a choice: lousy cell service that’s reasonably priced, or good service that’s really expensive.  The gadget that provides good service at reasonable cost will win me over.

A mini-ipad with data-only service and voip might do it.  But I can’t get past what the name “mini ipad” would do to the standard-sized one.
 

 

 

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