Saturday, August 22, 2015

A Gray Day

Early in February, the faculty of Connecticut’s four state universities – Connecticut Central State University (CCSU), Eastern Connecticut State University (ECSU), Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) and Western Connecticut State University (WCSU) – wrote a letter to the relevant chairs and co-chairs of the General Assembly’s education committees critical of Gregory Gray’s attempt by pedagogical fiat to “change the way we teach and deliver education to our students.” Mr. Gray is the President of Connecticut’s State University system.

“Many education pundits,” the educators wrote, “now suggest the teacher is no longer the center of learning, and that students learn more from one another than from the faculty. . .this re-alignment means faculty must become ‘facilitators’ of learning. It's imperative that WE. . .[change] our pedagogical approach immediately.”

The letter’s verbiage may be unfamiliar to those who have little acquaintance with cutting edge teacher education colleges, but anyone in Connecticut who has been exposed to the Marxist pedagogical flummery of Paulo Freire, here explored by Connecticut Commentary, will be familiar with “Pedagogy of the Oppressed.” Bill Ayres, the Chicago pedagogue and flag stomping former domestic terrorist whom some suspect may have had a hand in writing President Barack Obama’s highly fictionalized memoir “Dreams of My Father,” is a fervent follower of Freire.
Way back in 2008, Connecticut Commentary noted:

“American education has been deteriorating roughly since the early 70’s when Paulo Freire’s “Pedagogy of the Oppressed” became part of the curriculum in teachers' colleges. Freire’s idea was that the pedagogue or teacher was an oppressive creature so long as he taught his students, for teaching implies the conveyance of ideas or, as Freire would prefer to frame it, propaganda. Learning, however, is a liberating activity. Oppression in the classroom therefore would end when the teacher no longer taught a subject to his students. To become liberators, teachers must become ‘learning facilitators.’ They may shuck off the imputation that they are indoctrinators or propagandists by leading their charges to drink; but they must not prescribe the drink. No lecturing, please.”

Mr. Gray has now submitted his resignation; no doubt he is actively pursuing more promising opportunities elsewhere. Mark Ojakian, Governor Dannel Malloy’s chief of staff, will serve as interim president. The position is a monetary step-up for Mr. Ojakaian, who will earn an annual salary of $335,000 in his new position. Since Mr. Malloy appoints both the chairman and nine of the fifteen voting members of the board of regents that sets policy for Connecticut’s university system, the transition from his former position, where he earned a measly $189,000, was effortless.

Thinking out of the box, State Representative Gail Lavielle suggested, prior to Mr. Ojakain’s elevation to the position, that Connecticut might easily scrub the post altogether:

“Talk has already turned to the question of who will replace Dr. Gray. A far more important question, however, is why the Board of Regents is failing to produce real added value. Instead of simply filling the top spot, the legislature, the administration, and the Board’s members should be reassessing the Board’s role, its relationships with the state colleges and universities, the limits of its authority – and, if necessary, whether it should exist.”

The position exists because then Governor Lowell Weicker wanted to provide a soft landing, once he left office, to Bill Cibes, the Office of Policy Management (OPM) guru who facilitated the imposition of the Weicker income tax. Mr. Cibes ran for governor on an income tax platform, was soundly defeated and later had a “second act” as Mr. Weicker’s OPM chief. Both have resurfaced recently: Mr. Weicker to say that the national Republican Party is an idiot to entertain the possibility of multi-billionaire Donald Trump as President, and Mr. Cibes to suggest that Connecticut was under taxing its businesses.

Mrs. Lavielle may be on to something. The administrative architecture created by Mr. Weicker and further embellished by Mr. Malloy is one of those top-down political schemes that serve mostly to stifle creative competition among participating colleges, increase the cost of education and provide a soft landing pad for heroic administrative personnel who have assisted Mr. Malloy in beggaring the state.

Why don’t we just strangle this one in its crib?
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