Author Archives: Richard Jarman

CODFA President Jarman comments to BoT 02/09/2017

I was alerted to a recent article in the Glen Ellyn Patch about plummeting property values by our president. As the name suggests, Patch is a patchwork of miscellaneous stories and announcements of often obscure origin. This story originated with a website called the DuPage Policy Journal. I know not this particular organ, but I discerned from the content that it is a mouthpiece for advocates of lowering taxation. I admit that, at certain times of the year, I find myself in that camp. The objective of the piece is to place the entire blame for the cited decline in home values on increasing property taxes (and in part blaming school districts for the never-ending increases in the levy). The article also projected that property values would fall further based on that trend, with the subtext being that property tax increases would be the main driver.
This paints a frightening picture for the casual reader and of course would mobilize residents to oppose increases in the levy for schools in particular. However, closer inspection reveals a grotesque misapplication of the data and extrapolations thereof that an entry-level science student should scorn. Different stories can be woven by selective manipulation of data. Draw a line from 2007 and 2015 is to go from a pre-crash peak to a post-depression low. Property taxes had nothing to do with that decline. by 2015 the country was in the midst of recovering from that earlier disaster.
To predict further decline going forward based on the 2007 – 2015 trend is completely unsupported by the data. From 2012 – 2017, property values have shown a steady increase and a continuation of that steady growth is predicted going forward. Of course, recent events, which have nothing to do with property taxes, could yet upend all that; but that is another story.
My concern here is that these kinds of articles can reach a wide audience and have the potential to influence public opinion. As an advocate for wise and informed investment of public money in education, such as at College of DuPage, I think it is important that the data around property values, which obviously resonate with district residents, be portrayed accurately.

CODFA Vice President Comments to the COD Board of Trustees, October 20, 2016

As you know there was a meeting of the Board of Trustees Academic Committee today in this very room. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to attend personally as I was committed to meet with Barbara Johnson of the Higher Learning Commission andthe Faculty Senate to discuss progress in the removal of COD from its probationary status. I am sure I am not mistaken in asserting that all constituencies in this college hold the removal of the stain of probation as a consummation devoutly to be wished.

One of the agenda items for today’s meeting was “impediments to teaching and learning.” CODFA leadership conducted a survey of the membership to solicit their opinions. We are interested in issues both within the college and the outside world that impact the progress of both instructors and students. A summary of key issues identified was presented at the meeting today.

It is not my intent here to discuss any of those issues but I did think it an opportune moment to encourage this board to consider what it might be able to do to advance the interests of this college in the legislative realm and in the political arena in this state. The ongoing budget impasse has wrought havoc on higher education in particular. This cannot continue. Our Association through its union is actively pressing lawmakers. But we are just one constituency. This threat to the stability of higher education impacts everyone.

State Representative Peter Breen takes credit for his role in legislation motivated by the toppled regime. He has praised the new board members for their roles. All good. But that is in the past. I would like to ask him what, if he values this college and its students as highly as he ought, will he advocate for to promote its interests to make it stronger in the future and protect it in these financially uncertain times. What might you do in this regard?

The Show Must Go On

Back in the day, pre-BB (BBB if you prefer), the MAC Arts Center was characterized by the presence of thriving faculty-led ensembles in a variety of disciplines. They worked well because they were run, surprisingly enough by faculty members, whose combination of artistic prowess and knowledge of education, meant that students and the community benefited from their existence. Oh, and I don’t think they were expensive to run either.

With the ascendance of the regime in 2009, these ensembles, along with other initiatives championed by faculty members (Community Education Farm anyone?) did not prosper. No need to belabor the sordid nature of their departure here. The last to go was Buffalo Theatre Ensemble, which had valiantly soldiered on through the refurbishment of the MAC by setting up a temporary stage in the commissary of the K building. (Sidenote: the New Philamonic was forced to cancel its season in exile because of drop-off in attendance.)

How ironic then that, when the grand reopening of the MAC occurred with Jim Belushi amid all that pomp and circumstance, a former COD student whose name is attached to scholarships for theatre students at COD, the curtain was lowered on BTE.

The community and former students ensured that the BTE did not go gently into the COD night. A grassroots campaign to bring BTE back was begun. A petition drive was started. Letters to board members were written. At the August 20 board meeting, the public comment section was dominated by a series of moving testimonials mostly from former students. The petition, which by now had over 1,000 signatures, was handed over. The board had taken note (in stark contrast to boards of former years) and requested a presentation on BTE. This was to have occurred at last Thursday’s regular meeting but it was postponed because of the potential distraction that would be caused by that other little bit of business. However, it is on this Monday, September 28th, at 7 PM in the “Living Room.”

I have focused on BTE among the ensembles because, a, I have had intimate experience with it during my years as a theatre student and, b, it the ensemble under the spotlight right now. I would like to think that we all support the rebirth of faculty-driven activities across the curriculum, not just in the arts, and have an administration in place that supports them unreservedly.