This is about Maricopa and it's about community colleges -- a bit out of my usual physical and educational geography -- but really, it's about a rogue members of a Board trying to use the colleges for personal and political ends, educational mission be damned. And that kind of abuse of education is always in my blogging neighborhood.
A 55 page report (h/t to Dawn Teo for bring it to my attention) that came out recently raked the Maricopa County Community College District Board over the coals. Among the charges, taken verbatim from the report:
- Attempting to control and censor student newspaper content.
- Asserting the right to control content in courses based on appropriateness according to the standards of individual board members.
- Attempting to influence admission to limited enrollment programs (i.e., nursing)
- Phoning employees at home (even on weekends) requesting/demanding information/reports/data, often in unreasonable time frames.
- Making religious comments at Board meetings
- Engaging in proselytizing behaviors with respect to both religion and politics.
- Uttering inappropriate and offensive comments about race, ethnicity, religion and gender preferences.
- Harassing and intimidating students and employees.
I don't know the history or the Board members, but -- forgive me for jumping to conclusions here -- this sounds like an attempt at a religious right takeover of the MCCCD Board to rid this one little corner of academia of its Godless, left wing, homosexual agenda.
A case in point. Jerry Walker, a member of the Board, accompanied students on a school sponsored trip to Washington D.C. earlier this year whose purpose was to see how the legislative process works. During a stop at Trent Franks' office, a student read from a prepared presentation to one of Franks' aides. Walker disagreed vehemently with the student's point of view. He interrupted her during the presentation -- "You are wrong." "That is not true." "I disagree with you." Later in the hall, Walker got angry at her for having the audacity to make the presentation. She burst into tears and sped up to get away. He yelled at her down the hall that he would see to it that students never talked about that issue again.
The issue which the student advocated for and Walker disagreed with so passionately was the DREAM (Development, Relief and Education for Alien Minors) Act, which would provide a path to citizenship through education for children who were brought to this country as illegal aliens.
Later, the young woman was too intimidated to give her presentation in McCain's office, because she was afraid Walker would be at the room.
But Walker feels he did the right thing.
“Instead of it being an educational experience for the students, I interpret it as a lobbying effort,” he said of the Washington trips.
More than that, Walker alleges the entire program is a liberal conspiracy hatched by top district officials.
“This was a lobbying effort sponsored by the community college district to recruit students to do an end-run around the will of the voters of Maricopa County and the state of Arizona by trying to get the DREAM Act passed, to override Proposition 300,” Walker said.
This about Walker:
Walker is a Baptist minister-in-training who is active in East Valley politics, particularly in Republican circles.
Social issues, particularly his disapproval of homosexuality and illegal immigration, have caused him to clash with college employees and some board colleagues.
I don't know enough about the back story here to put the whole thing in context -- maybe someone can fill us in -- but it sounds like some Board members had an agenda that went beyond their responsibilities, to put it mildly.
AN UNIMPORTANT BUT ODD COINCIDENCE: It may look like I took advantage of the spotlight on the Palin book to inject the "rogue" analogy in the title and opening paragraph, but I actually took it from the report, which called the offending board members "rogue trustees," referring to a term from a monograph, "The Rogue Trustee: The Elephant in the Room." Rogue, Elephant, and a post that comes out in the middle of Sarah-mania. No way you could make that happen on purpose.