John N. Gardner Institute for Excellence in Undergraduate Education

A Perspective I am Going To Keep Reminding Myself Of!

John N. Gardner
President
If I have any regular readers of this blog, I am sure it will come as no revelation when I say that I am aware that I am becoming increasingly despondent about the direction my country is moving in on what I have come to call its “race to the bottom.” But I had a message sent to me today from a close friend and colleague, Dr. Elsie Froment, who is a Canadian historian (of US twentieth century history). She is also a senior academic administrator at Trinity Western University in Vancouver.
Her message with a perspective I am now going to share reached me a day after I returned from the state of Maine, a place I love to visit and work in as I have had occasion to do frequently this year. I always “return” to New England thinking in advance that those people aren’t as crazy as the rest of the country. But upon reading the Portland newspaper’s report of current new legislative initiatives, I was stunned to see that a bill has been introduced to reintroduce billboards to the state. And now here’s a whopper: another bill to bring back child labor. This particular bill would end the current limitations on the number of hours a teenager could work while in high school and would permit instead students through the age of 20 to work an unlimited number of hours; and here’s the kicker: it would make it legal to pay them a new SUB minimum wage! As we move forward on our educational race to the bottom, now here is a policy that definitely should be emulated by other states. Discourage students from studying more in high school and further distract them and weaken their preparation for college. What are these people thinking? So this is what I find looking for sanity as I leave my home state for several days where here in North Carolina a legislator of the same party has introduced a bill to authorize North Carolina to develop its own separate currency!
Back to Dr. Watt: she visited the University of South Carolina for the better part of two years in the mid 1990’s, to work in the University’s archives, including a review of my own papers, in order to study the impact of the social protest movement of the late 1960’s early 70’s on the launching of the so-called “freshman year experience” international movement. If this subject catches your fancy you really should request a copy of her dissertation. It will enable you to look at our present educational and social crises and help you see opportunity in them for positive transformation.
In her message she shared with me this perspective: “The larger scene can be discouraging but persistent, peaceful, l personal, integrity in public service generates a legacy of positive change in countless people’s lives. The FYE history documents that”.
I lived through that history and she is absolutely correct. I need to keep reminding myself of this.

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