Take this link to find a collection of articles on interviewing and catching a community college job: http://chronicle.com/jobs/topical/community_college.htm. I don’t like the articles and the assumptions they make, but I suppose they still speak the truth about what these writers experienced. It’s just that I don’t recognize the community colleges I know in what they say. These are the problem assumptions it seems to me they hold:
- any job at a four year college is superior to any job at a community college.
- quality is a greater a concern and a more likely achievement for four year college faculty than community college faculty.
- PhDs are better a preparing community college students for transfer than those without the doctorate.
- community college faculty and administrators are hostile toward PhD. job candidates.
- it’s possible, with much time and effort, for community college faculty to overcome the disappointment of not teaching at a university.
- the community college is a weird, almost occult entity, which needs to be interpreted to people who graduated from a college, like discussing cricket at a Little League game.
- “13th grade,” “junior college,” and “toy college” are disdainful terms we should not use for the community college, regardless of how accurate they are.
My first response was, “Who are these apologists for the community college, and why didn’t the Chronicle find some actual community college faculty to write their bit?” But these are written by people with community college teaching experience, in some cases a lot of it, and that’s why I pass on the link. This is, I have to admit, what they experienced. My own experience with community colleges has been almost entirely in SUNY, and perhaps that’s a factor, but I certainly have not found the same community college that most of these writers do.
The community college began as a movement, and many of us still consider it one. Who else is taking college education to the people, even if they are poor or middle class, even if their high schools spat them out as unfavored, even if they got pregnant in high school or suffered a head trauma or are already committed to supporting a family via a job they can’t leave? Who else is going to be patient enough to introduce people without a clue to the culture of education, and then hold them to standards that mean they can be successful when they move on to be junior and seniors at the bachelor-granting institutions.
Were any of these Chronicle writers proud to be working with students and faculty that have that much grit? Don’t apologize for us because we aren’t lecturers somewhere. It’s rewarding, life-changing work that we do, and not many can do it well. Certainly those with the attitudes I listed above cannot.