Those of us choosing colleges or working in higher education -- or the just plain curious and/or addicted to news -- know that higher education has been in the news a lot lately. The president (yes, Obama) has been taking very clear and vocal stands on matters as diverse as student debt and campus sexual assault. These point to core concerns for all of us across our culture and our nation, in and out of Chicago. So, too, does Obama's concerns about accountability in higher education and this despite controversy (well-deserved) about his "score card" for colleges and universities.
A key concern is how we can focus on connecting education to success -- for individuals, for cities like Chicago, for the nation. Too often success in such debate is equated with economic success and, thus work force education. Higher education, as its first word indicates, aspires to ensure work force development and more. We must not lose the more.
Here are a few news stories about higher education that remind us that there is more at stake:
Who says religion does not matter? Wheaton College (Illinois) has used it religiousness to move SCOTUS to allow them to refuse even to fill out the forms to be exempt from offering contraceptives through their health care. Why? The forms might "trigger" . . . . what exactly? Meanwhile, Gordon College (near Boston) has asked to be exempted from employment laws which require nondiscrimination against LGBTQ folks. And that is just recently.
Who says that we are in a post-racial America? Almost no one I can think of, but the big news this week is about race based admissions in Texas. And it is not all negative. This is the crucial story.
Gay marriage continues to be an issue. Southwest Christian has expelled a woman for marrying her partner and, yes, some states and institutions are moving to alter benefits packages to cover ONLY married LGBTQ and other partnerships, eliminating the notion of a non-married recognized family. Yes, this is a society that privileges marriage; so, if you can, and you don't, some seem to think you do not deserve inclusion in benefits packages. (This is not true at Shimer College, where I work. )
And yes, there are very crucial stories in the news about sexual assault (UConn settled its case for $1.3 million ). And, there are stories about student debt and accountability.
Just open your eyes. And there it is: higher education in the news.