Creating Classes … and More Bits from the NEJHE Beat

By John O. Harney

More Underrepresented Groups. Even before Americans began retreating from educational equity amid the recent backlash against “political correctness,” our empathy was directed at a fairly traditional set of underrepresented populations: African-Americans, Latinos, Asian-Americans, Native Americans and students with disabilities (many of whom are being reminded only now that their student loans can be forgiven). If anything, we need to widen that net to include at least: Muslims, the LBGTQA community, rural (not just urban) students, convicts (who can be denied admission and student financial aid due to their past criminal records) and the children of convicts. One in 14 Americans will grow up with a parent in prison, according to a 2015 study by the Maryland-based research center Child Trends. Among African Americans, 1 in 9 has had a father in prison by age 14. That’s not a level playing field.

Creative Accounting. Many commentators have evangelized about the verve brought to cities by the “Creative Class,” but few have as many disciples as Richard Florida, the author of The Rise of the Creative Class. Florida’s premise is eloquently dissed by Carolyn Zelikow of the Aspen Institute’s Future of Work Initiative. “As far as I can tell, the Creative Class is just a new name for rich people,” she writes in Market Urbanism. “They might come in every color of the rainbow, but the most obvious shared trait of this Creative Class is that they are loaded. Florida’s typical character sails through life in the most extravagantly expensive neighborhoods on the planet.” She adds: “Florida’s tacit preference for bike lanes over food stamps, and urban density over more affordable suburban sprawl is especially insidious, because it appeals to precisely the type of people who plan cities, themselves members of the class that Florida so flatteringly describes.” These are sentiments evident in my Editor’s Memo titled “Artists Only” though I didn’t describe them as eloquently as Zelikow.

NE Pharma. NEBHE has been very proud over the years of New England’s public pharmacy education programs that offer tuition discounts through NEBHE’s Regional Student Program. Now, one of the recent private-sector entrants in the field deserves some kudos. The independent University of New England College of Pharmacy, based in Biddeford, Maine, was recently awarded $20,000 by the National Association of Chain Drug Stores (NACDS) Foundation to address the prescription drug abuse epidemic and health consequences in Maine by creating a continuing education curriculum for prescribers and pharmacists that increases the appropriate use of the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program.

Sexual Assault. The issue of sexual assault is too complex to do justice in a higher education journal, though we’ve looked at it from time to time, beginning with our Emotional Rescue edition that explored various pathologies facing today’s students, including date rape. The topic recently reared its head nationally when a Brigham Young University student who reported being sexually assaulted to local police was found in violation of the college’s “honor code” and denied services. Now, the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence in Marblehead, Mass., pitches us the story of a free smartphone app as “the ONLY resource available to the 85% of victims who are not ready to report what happened to the appropriate authorities. By giving these victims a tool to record what happened and preserve their options about when the authorities get involved, the app helps victims deal with their ongoing trauma.” The app inventors plan to let us know when the first New England campus signs on.

Indebted Students. The University of Connecticut newspaper recently reported on a Higher One news release showing that 90% of students “feel they do not have all the information necessary to pay off their college loans.” It’s a murky world. Higher One recently sold its division that disburses financial aid to students through a special debit card scheme that has come under government scrutiny. As the New Haven Independent reported, “The company that symbolized New Haven’s and Connecticut’s efforts to create new-economy jobs of the future is becoming one more local division of an out-of-state bank, struggling to stay alive after years of scandal.”

John O. Harney is executive editor of The New England Journal of Higher Education.

Painting of “Still Life with Old Sunflowers” by Montserrat College professor Timothy Harney.


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