We ask that you contact your representatives and Governor Ned Lamont to let them know that you don’t want your local community college to turn into a faceless, profit-driven McCollege.
Tell them Connecticut State Community College is a costly mistake, and hiring more and more administrators is a big deal. waste of your tax money. Together, you and the State of Connecticut benefit from strong, independent colleges, tailored to serve your community. Find your legislator and contact details here. Email to Governor Lamont here.
Imagine this: classes start tomorrow. You signed up for online classes because you don’t know what it will look like in a COVID classroom, and on top of that, you have to work to help your family. But when you try to log into your account, you realize that you forgot your password. Without your password, you cannot register for or pay for classes, view emails, access library resources, or access your classes. Instead of being able to contact a local IT office, you’re taken to an outsourced call center where you wait 15-45 minutes. Do you have a problem remembering your username? Call the call center. Do you have a problem with immunization status? Call a call center. Problem with your student loan? You get the picture. No more friendly workers on campus to help you with your problems, only distant strangers reading scripts.
Our community colleges have always been public services tailored to the needs of their individual communities, but our ability to provide only to students is threatened in Connecticut. The 12 community colleges each have their own specialties and strengths, but the Board of Regents for Higher Education in Connecticut (BOR) wants to turn them all into McDonald’s-type franchises, making it easier for administrators, but worse for our communities and our students. .
The BOR wants to eliminate our 12 individual and separate community colleges and replace them with a “Connecticut State Community College” with 12 campuses that have identical courses. Maybe that sounds like a good thing. Students can go to any college and get the exact same education, right? But while we may offer similar programs, there are some significant differences. For example, at Norwalk Community College, the paralegal program emphasizes teaching students about working in law firms, while at Manchester CC, near Hartford, the emphasis is on teaching students of work in the insurance industry. In physics, Three Rivers CC, which has the Dominion Millstone nuclear power plant nearby, includes a nuclear power component. No other college teaches this at this time. What will happen when Governor Lamont makes Connecticut’s 12 community colleges the same? Will Three Rivers have to drop nuclear physics lessons? Will Manchester students no longer focus on the insurance law they need? Is it better for students? Or for administrators?
The BOR claims this reorganization will save money, but, according to Jon Lender in a story from March 13 in the Hartford Courant, “The cumulative increase in the cost of the system office since 2017 is $ 69 million” and new vice presidents are paid $ 130,928 (“Big paychecks for new community college administrative staff fuel discord as the regents prepare to hire a new president. ”)
The reorganization has added layers of bureaucracy that make it more difficult for students to access services. Before, students and employees were dealing with a real person in their school; now they are dealing with a faceless institution. As administrative costs skyrocket, the amount of money spent on the actual educational needs of students continues to decline. This is cheap education, and it affects Connecticut students who need and deserve a strong public higher education system.
Why is this happening? Mainly because of the idea that public higher education can be run as a for-profit business. But higher education is not supposed to pay off immediately, like McDonald’s. And the benefits come in the form of “… more informed citizens, better health, better parents, greater job satisfaction and other non-economic benefits” (Baum and. al., 2013). These benefits only occur when students can get the information and help they need.
Spending more money on directors isn’t the best plan for Connecticut. Spending more money on student-related services like the local education council, local IT staff, local library staff, and faculty is. Please contact your legislators and the governor to voice your concerns about the deliberate damage to Connecticut’s public higher education system.
William Key is a doctoral candidate at Southern Connecticut State University and a professor at Norwalk Community College. Lois Aime is Director of Educational Technology and a member of the Faculty’s Advisory Committee to the Board of Trustees. Laurel S. Peterson is an English professor at Norwalk Community College.
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