• 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

Waiting lists, revenue, Pluto and more....

April 25, 2013

I read yesterday that the wait list for California community colleges is now about 450,000.  That would be roughly three quarters of the population of Vermont.  


I know it’s dangerous to read too much into comments, but I was struck at the disparity between two Chronicle articles on the same day.  An article about colleges cutting hours for adjuncts to dodge the obligation for providing health insurance under the Affordable Care Act had over 80 comments, most of which were livid.  The article that ran alongside it, on the very same day, about the fiscal challenges that the next generation of college presidents face had no comments at all.  

The two subjects are connected.  In fact, I’d go so far as to say that getting angry about the first one without acknowledging the reality of the second one is missing the point.  As long as a lack of spending occasions outrage, but a lack of revenue occasions only a shrug, we aren’t going to get anywhere good.


The rubber chicken circuit has hit its annual late Spring peak.  It’s mostly a blessing.  Each event is wonderful in itself, and it’s always heartening to see hard-working people bask in a well-earned opportunity to reflect on what they’ve achieved.  The cumulative time commitment is a real issue for a parent, though.  When you combine music lessons and lacrosse and baseball practices with PTO meetings, end-of-year celebratory dinners, and performances, I start to understand why relatively few people with school-age children do these jobs.


Why don’t most cell phones allow calling over wi-fi?  Where I live and work, the options for good cellular coverage amount to either Verizon or not bothering, and Verizon is expensive.  It seems like it shouldn’t be all that difficult technically, since voice is just another kind of data.  


Judging by the solar systems on display at The Girl’s science fair, the planetary status of Pluto remains very much in question.  The styrofoam-balls-on-wires displays were evenly divided between including Pluto and excluding Pluto.

For my money, include Pluto.  It’s already cold and isolated; attacking its pride just seems mean.  If we teach constellations, which are entirely imaginary, then we can certainly grandfather Pluto.


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