History, science, adventure and fantasy combine in this tale that carries readers from the plains of Kansas to Antarctica.
In mid-19th-century Tolerone, Kansas, the sparklingly named Hallelujah Wonder is moping: pining for her murdered scientist-explorer father, lonely for her Massachusetts roots and awakening to the moral dilemma of slavery. This last has been brought about by the growing abolitionist movement and her friendship with Eustace, an enslaved boy. Hallelujah narrates in the present tense, interspersing her accounts with asides to readers, making for a tone that is both cozy and bluntly practical (Hallelujah is determined to be scientific): “Looks like you croaked,” she remarks at one point to a dead rattlesnake. The core propulsion of the plot is a mysterious, shrunken Medicine Head that Hallelujah’s father brought back from an expedition and that the evil sea captain Cornelius Greeney now seeks. Charged with its protection, Hallelujah and Eustace set out on an adventure that simultaneously challenges and defends Hallelujah’s scientific worldview. Pulse-quickening exploits and taut descriptions will keep readers riveted. Some moments are too obviously teaching moments, such as when Hallelujah admonishes readers to think about not being wasteful, but they are not particularly distracting.
Set against the growing-pains backdrop of pre–Civil War America, both reflecting and supporting Hallelujah’s coming-of-age story, Helget’s tale celebrates the curiosity and mystery of life. (Adventure. 8-13)
As a young woman, I made a number
of choices that could have set me up for lifelong failure. I didn’t do as well
as I could have in high school. One of my favorite stories I like to share with
students is how I got an F in high school English. Somehow, I got into SDSU to
study nutrition, but I was more interested in beer and boys and got an F in
college physical education (once I ran 2 miles in that class completely
intoxicated), among other withdrawals and incompletes. I didn’t have the
slightest idea under heaven how to manage money. I moved home and tried classes
at MSU, Mankato, for business, a “practical” decision, one that seemed to
respond to the current industry needs. Again, a number of withdrawals and Cs
and warnings that I had put on academic probation and that my financial aid was
at risk commenced. I started waitressing and bartending, and I worked as a
laborer at a road construction company back home.
I became pregnant. I dropped out.
That is the very quick, condensed
summary of events.
After I had my daughter and then my
son 11 months later, I used to sit around in the house and read. Although I
didn’t always score so well in my high school English classes (Completely my
fault. I was lazy.), I had a number of teachers tell me that my reading comprehension
was “very good,” and I had a religion teacher who used to push books upon me.
Tolstoy. Hugo. Cervates. You can handle
it, she suggested.
I decided to go back to those
books. Suddenly, while the babies climbed upon the chairs and tables and left
jelly handprints on the walls and carpet and howled at every moment in between,
everything interested me. At the time, there was a used bookstore in New Ulm,
the town I was living in, and I would tote those two babies down there as I
perused the shelves and filled up a plastic bag with classics, westerns,
histories, and young adult books for $5. I brought them home and read and
thought all the time. The books got me through some severely depressive times
(post-partum blues probably). Then, I decided to go back to school. My mom
agreed to watch my kids while I took classes, so off I went to MSU, Mankato,
again, this time for literature. Yes, I got some questions such as, what are you going to do with that? and are there job prospects in those fields?
But even the people who said those things were still helpful and supportive.
Onward I pressed.
My mind opened like a moon flower.
I still struggled with attendance
(babies!) and assignments (babies!) sometimes, but I was learning. I was
learning so much, and I was so happy with that learning that my next big
problem was settling upon a major. While I had originally intended to do
literature, suddenly I was also interested in preschool teaching, elementary
teaching, high school science teaching, history, technical editing, women’s
studies, and law.
What a wonderful problem to have.
Oh, I settled upon English
literature because I had the largest number of credits in that area.
It’s worked out pretty well for my
kids and me. And, I am so grateful that I’ve been able to apply all of those
interests to the two careers I stumbled into: teaching and writing.
The moral of the story is that
there’s redemption for everyone. I was lucky, in that I had a support system
that didn’t allow those series of bad decisions to debilitate me for life. Most
of students I worked with, did not. Just ONE of those bad decisions would have
set them on a preordained course of lifelong struggle.
As a teacher, I told students, I
and my colleagues were that support system. If they hadn’t had it before, we were going to provide it. Your mind, I
told them, protect it. Cultivate it. Your
mind is your way up. I honestly, fully believed that education was the last
equalizer left in this country.
Well, as you already know, I
believe a movement exists to take even that away from these students. You can
read all about that HERE if you want to.
My campaign against the current
administration at SCC and the implementation of Charting the Future is dreary,
weary, and possibly boring. But, that doesn’t mean it isn’t important or that
you shouldn’t care or help. And, I definitely wouldn’t do it if I didn’t feel
it was right. I'm alienating people. I'm offending people. Still, I think what I am forwarding is correct and important.
I want students to have the
opportunity to mess up a little, but grow and recover and succeed. Community
colleges are wonderful places to that. I want to save SCC and of every other MnSCU
2-year from becoming what Annette Parker and Charting the Future have in mind,
uncaring, online job mills with CEOs as the customer rather than the students.
I mean, just on a human level,
doesn’t it make you sad? Feel cold? So, that’s why I’m doing this. That’s why I
keep bothering you. I personally know the faculty. I personally know the staff.
I definitely personally know the students. I know the building and the previous
administration. We didn’t always agree upon things, but there was never a
question that the students’ and community’s best interest weren’t at heart.
They were. Those who know the history of the school and the community can project the kinds of hopes that might be possible for SCC,
North Mankato, and southern Minnesota. McKinsey consultants can't do that. They don't even want to. What they do is find people, greedy in some cases, ignorant in others, a combination of both in some cases (bing! bing! bing!), to force action on unprepared places. North Mankato was unprepared. Minnesota, despite all the warnings from nearby states, was very disappointingly unprepared and folded to the "game changing" rhetoric, pitched by McKinsey as early as 2009 to government, community, and education leaders, and now everywhere I hear fools parroting it. Game changers!
I am a writer. I know a lot of
words. Right now, though, I don’t even have them to express my profound and
I didn't compose this list, but it concerns some of the same things I've been looking into, documents I've been looking at. This list only concerns the 3 contracts with administration's 3 close friends/former business partner. The summary of it is that SCC pocketbook has not been very carefully managed and that SCC/MnSCU isn't providing documentation. 1. There are apparently a total of 5 Original and 2 Amended Contracts with Innovation.
2. There are 3 Contracts with Chase, and seems to be a 4th Contract for which we have never received any records. I suspect this, because **** has provided records for 2 SCC checks paid to Chase on or about July 25, 2014 for which we have received No records from SCC. There appears to be no other reason for these 2 checks to have been issued to Chase.
3. There is only one contract with Manley. However; she "double-invoiced" for her Travel Expenses of $897.58 in October 22, 2013 and SCC paid her for these same expenses twice in 2013. What is curious to say the least is that FOR SOME UNKOWN REASON, Manley wrote her Personal Check back to SCC for $897.58 ONE YEAR LATER, on October 14, 2014. Who caught this "double payment" a year later is a GOOD QUESTION to be followed up, I believe.
4. SCC Purchasing Requirements include: A. At least 2 Separate Quotations for each of the Contractor/Vendor's proposed expenditures. B. These 2 Separate Quotations are to be kept for on file for at least one year, or until after the Separate Quotations have been "audited". C. Sealed bids to be submitted for certain proposals.
5. We have never been given any records to show the existence of such Separate Quotations.
6. We have never been given any records to show that any REQUESTS FOR PROPOSALS were made part of the file for any of the payments to the above Vendors.
7. We have never been given any records to show that any DISCLOSURES OF PRIOR RELATIONSHIPS between Annette Parker and any of the above Vendors were ever made to anyone at SCC.
8. Our FOIA requests to SCC now cover the entire period of calendar years 2013 and 2014 for all transactions involving the above Vendors.
9. Total Contracts with Innovation Partners International SE during 2013 totalled Total Obligations of Professional Fees of $116,500; with total obligations of Expenses of Not To Exceed $17,700; for a Total Obligation of $$133,700.
10. Total SCC Payments made to Innovation Partners International SE dated in 2013 on these Contract Obligations are $118,180.10.
11. Available Records show that Innovation Partners International SE submitted their Invoices to SCC claiming various Travel Expenses on at least 3 Separate Occasions but the records made available to us show that there are NO actual receipts, vouchers, hotel records, rental car records, airline travel records, nor any other records of EXPENSES ACTUALLY PAID by the Vendor. THIS IS CLEARLY "illegal" per SCC Purchasing documentation Requirements.
12. Available Records also show that Innovation Partners International SE claimed total travel expenses of $1,368.31 for November, 2013 Travel Expenses per their Invoice #1016 dated November 24, 2013; but that SCC DID NOT EVER PAY FOR THIS AMOUNT of Travel Expenses at any time. THIS DOES NOT MAKE ANY SENSE TO ME. At this point, I believe that we still need to find records relating to such a payment to Innovation Pqrtners International SE. There have been no records to substantiate this amount of claimed travel expenses provided to us.
13. ****** provided us records to show that SCC made 2 separate check payments to S Y Chase Consulting LLC during on or about July 25, 2014; in the amounts of $4,282.69 and of $214.54. WE HAVE RECIEVED NO CONTRACTS, NOR ANY OTHER RECORD to show these 2 payments.
14. Total Contracts with S Y Chase Consulting LLC do show Total Obligations of Professional Fees of $5,800 with No obligation for any Travel Expenses; for a Total Obligation of $5,800.
15. Total SCC Payments made to S Y Chase Consulting LLC during 2014 are $7,497.23. More than the known Contract Obligations. MUST BE AT LEAST ONE MORE CONTRACT for which SCC has provided NO RECORDS.
16. Contract #48912 with S Y Chase Consulting LLC dated on or about June 1, 2014, IS MISSING PAGE 7 of 7. This is SUSPICIOUS. What we DO HAVE is PAGE 7 of 8. This leads me to believe that we have NOT BEEN PROVIDED a Contract which is an 8 Page Contract. We are MISSING PAGES 1 THROUGH 6, AS WELL AS PAGE 8 of what I believe to be the "missing" Contract with S Y Chase Consulting LLC (which seem to relate the the SCC payments during July, 2014 detailed above in Item 13 Above.
17. It appears that SCC procedures called for someone to make a PURCHASE REQUISIOiN after it was determined that SCC was going to enter into each Contract, including the Contracts with the above Vendors. The PURCHASE ORDER number generated from each PURCHASE REQUISTION was then placed on each of these Contracts and on all subsequent Vendor Invoices received and each record relating to the respective Contracts.
18. I have scheduled such Contract Numbers for each of the above Vendors for 2013 and 2014. Many of these SCC records bear the signature of "Annette Parker". It appears that Annette Parker was extremely "Hands On" in all of the dealings with each of the above 3 Vendors.
19. It also appears that Amended Contracts and other records were prepared "After the Fact" in some instances.
20. It also appears that SCC did not wait for the normal purchasing procedure to be followed PRIOR to the Vendors begin providing the professional services and travel expenses for which SCC would be Obligated to pay for. I am not aware of any transactions with any other Vendors for which SCC normal purchasing procedure was not followed.
Feigning personal attacks where none are happening is a type
of logical fallacy, straw man, where you pretend your opposing party is saying
something that they are not and argue against what your opposing party hasn’t
said. It’s a type of manipulation that exploits people’s emotions regarding
particularly hot issues.
So if a person were to ask, Hey, why did this class get cut,
and the other person, rather than straightforwardly answer the question, were
to respond with, Do I have to show you my birth certificate? that would be a
straw man fallacy.
My judgment, our judgments,
of Annette Parker conclude that her professionalism is poor, that her motives
regarding hiring and contracts that cost the students, college, and taxpayers
money are suspect, that she intimidates her faculty, staff, and students, and
that she is in over her head with the budget of South Central College. I
conclude that she is ill-equipped to be the president of South Central College.
That conclusion is based on her actions and words in relationship to her job as
the PRESIDENT of South Central College. A certain level of scholarship and
management and professionalism should be expected of a community college
president. She fails in all three areas. She might be offended by those conclusions,
but none of us walks around in this world with the right to remain unoffended.
She is a public employee in a very public position with an enormous amount of
compensation (which, by the way, should be up for public scrutiny), paid for by
us. Her skills, or lack thereof, are up for public examination. Her personal
life is not and has not been. To pretend as though she is the victim of
bullying, which I and others have been accused of, is only another manipulation or again indicative that she does not
have what it takes to be our community college’s president.
So, no. Neither I nor any one else need to see your birth
certificate. The budgets that clearly define what you’ve done with so much
money would be nice, though. The documents that explain what, exactly, you and
Chancellor Rosenstone and your CEO braintrust have in mind for South Central
College would also be appreciated.
Yes, we have
tried to approach the union representative with these concerns. Over the past
year, faculty concerns about the administration of SCC have been repeatedly raised
with the union. Union leadership has repeatedly defended administration
tactics and has failed to provide any information to faculty about questionable
academic decisions and wasteful secretive spending to old friends and religious
faculty have asked why no marketing dollars have been spent to support the
Liberal Arts and Sciences offerings of the college. Several questions were
raised about failing to hire adequate student support staff, such as academic
advisors when persons have left those positions and yet, a new position, a
“personal assistant” to the President has been created. Faculty have
raised concerns about the removal of valued colleagues for ‘budgetary reasons’
when no budget outlining the financial condition of the college has ever been
provided for review. Significant concerns about the hostile work
environment created by continued harassment and intimidation and threats by
administration have been raised with the president of the union on numerous
occasions. No answer was given other than to identify persons who raised
concerns as ‘a small faction of disgruntled employees’.
Even though “a
small faction” does not accurately represent the number of fearful and
overwhelmed employees who seek answers (I know this because I get desperate
emails on a regular basis from folks at SCC [and now from RCTC] who want help),
I will propose this to the union president: even if it’s ONE faculty member who
has expressed these concerns, it is your job to represent that faculty member.
At one point last
semester, faculty members who were not union leadership took it upon themselves
to seek audience with President Parker to ask questions that were being
unanswered by the union. President Parker specifically indicated that
‘they need to go through the appropriate channel of the union’ to receive a
response, and that these faculty members do not speak for the faculty as a
whole. Only the union speaks for the faculty as a whole.
Why has the union
been unresponsive to faculty concerns? Several theories
abound. It is interesting to note that the very first lay-off list issued
by President Parker when she took the realm of SCC included the North Mankato
Union President. She later removed him from that list by metaphorically
wrapping a cloak around him and including him in multiple inner-circle
discussions. Since that point, he has been a stalwart supporter of the President—as
an individual—not as a representative of the faculty, in the opinion of some of
So what are they,
faculty in the union but not represented by the union president, supposed to
My advice to them
was to call and write every legislator they could think of, and I indicated
that I would too, on their behalf and for the students and for the rest of us
Minnesotans. I did.
And, that’s what
they did, too. Unable to obtain answers to any questions within the
‘appropriate channels’ of the Union, faculty have approached, as individuals,
elected officials to raise concerns about the extremely difficult conditions of
One of the
elected officials specifically said ‘we have been informed by the union that
the union supports President Parker and the changes that are occurring at
SCC. The concerns are being raised by a small faction of disgruntled
faculty who are just engaging in bullying of the administration. We are
not going to get involved in a union dispute amongst faculty
factions. This isn’t an issue we’re going to get involved in, but the
bullying needs to stop.’
It is one thing to
not raise the concerns of the faculty to the administration. It is another
thing, entirely, to actively discredit the legitimate concerns of the faculty
to elected officials. The union membership deserves leaders who will seek
truth. The current union leadership has actively undermined the faculty.
And, from me,
personally, a Wellstone Democrat, to the two DFL legislators who have dismissed
their concerns: YOU, more than anyone are supposed to protect healthy unions
and be sensitive to the shredding of them. Falling for these fallacies and
ducking away is beneath your positions. Step back and look at the whole
picture. A CEO-advised education plan implemented into the state’s college
system. A Chancellor who hand-selects presidents from an arm of McKinsey and
Company, a notorious right-wing consulting and research (*cough*) group.
Immediate friction among faculty union members.
What do YOU
think is going on?
The real shame here is that these ridiculous sparks keep
distracting from the real issue, which is that the path for Charting the Future
has been hidden from the people who are directly affected by it everyday. Why
are MnSCU policies, once followed to a T, now dismissed whenever administration
finds it necessary to dismiss them? Why is there an explosion in administrative
positions and spending, but class cuts, faculty cuts, program cuts, staff cuts
abound? Tell us and the students and the community where this leading. Provide
the plan. We know, with your new focus on business and business practices, that
you have one. Show it to us.
Disgruntled indeed. Who wouldn’t be?
Here I have to note that I am not the only author of this piece but cannot disclose the other authors. They fear for their jobs.
Every day when we wake up, the
world is a slightly more dynamic place.The global economy is growing more complex, and economic interactions
are requiring interdisciplinary education to properly assess issues facing the
world today.For instance, agriculture
is no longer as simple as planting, tending, and harvesting plants for
food.Agriculture jobs today require a
deep understanding of horticulture, plant biology, molecular and microbiology,
energy, chemistry, and genetics.Tack
onto that the global economy surrounding agriculture and you can add sociology,
government policy, and trade law.Now we
have to understand the agriculture business, and the ethics surrounding
it.Without a background in these
subjects, it is impossible to truly understand, discuss, and innovate in
What has changed with the world
that led these general education subjects to become necessary?Nothing.It’s always been incredibly valuable.Leonardo DaVinci, arguably the greatest innovator in human history, is
often referred to as a polymath, a person with wide-range knowledge.Today, we have people like Vaclav Smil
breaking down extremely complex subjects like global energy use and the history
of human consumption.Without this
important wide-range knowledge, such feats would be impossible.
We cannot simply rely on these
historically significant geniuses to arise.We need to create them with proper education and a network conducive to
understanding the modern world.As we
traverse the age of the internet, our culture is growing interconnected on a
level never before seen.Any person with
internet access can provide their input on a range of topics from sports and
popular culture, to more complex issues like race relations, evolution, or
climate change.This is how popular
opinion and democratic policy is being shaped.
The problem arises when we look at
the credibility of the loudest voices.It becomes clear very quickly when discussing the subject of evolution,
that the denier lacks basic information about biology.It becomes clear very quickly when discussing
the subject of climate change, that the denier lacks basic information about
chemistry.This is why you see such a discrepancy
between scientists and politicians on these subjects.This is why we have the second highest
population of evolution deniers among the developed world.Our education system is failing.
“And I submit that this is what the real, no-shit value of your liberal arts
education is supposed to be about: How to keep from going through your
comfortable, prosperous, respectable adult life dead, unconscious, a slave to
your head and to your natural default setting of being uniquely, completely,
imperially alone, day in and day out.”-
David Foster Wallace “This is water”.
This fall semester, Minneapolis Community and Technical College closed six
technical programs and took steps to reduce our course offerings in the liberal
arts as well, impacting scores of students. We were told that our low composite
financial index (driven primarily by depreciation costs of our new buildings)
and the general, state-wide higher education budget woes would harm our
institution and possibly lead to accreditation issues with the Higher Learning
Commission unless quick measures were taken to lower costs. We would have to
close programs that were not sustainable. It is tragic and unfortunate,
administration said, but it had to be done.
Administrations such as ours and those at other two-year institutions,
guided by principles set forth through McKinsey and other interest groups, are
set in their thinking that technical program closures, layoffs, and
“streamlining” (reducing/cutting course offerings) the liberal arts curriculum
is the best avenue through which to address budget shortfalls, which sets up a
dangerous path for higher education in Minnesota, one which is seemingly based
upon the needs of interests outside of those of our students.
While our administration was transparent in their decision-making process,
it appears as though these cuts were as much driven by the philosophical
underpinnings of Charting the Future as much or more than the actual financial
reality. One such example is barbering. Barbering was not only unique in the
MnSCU system, but also drew many male African-American students to from the
surrounding community to them. The rationale for its closure was the high loan
default rate and relatively low starting wage. While I can understand the first
concern, given recent edicts from the federal government regarding
institutional responsibility for loan defaults under Title IV (an odious
federal mandate that will disproportionately affect low income and students of
color), I fail to see why we equate average wage as the sole measure of program
sustainability. Anyone who has ever visited north Minneapolis or other
predominantly African American community will realize the enormous cultural
value barber shops have. For many years, they have served as social hubs of
African American communities across the country and have been one of the few
avenues in urban settings through which African American men became
entrepreneurs. If Minneapolis Community & Technical College is the most
diverse college in the two year system, with so many of our students being
African American men who have been marginalized by institutional racism present
in our justice and K-12 education systems, why on earth would we close a
program that has historic and cultural relevance to the black community and
also succeeds in giving opportunity and a chance at economic privilege to one
of the most vulnerable student populations we have? While it is true that there are other
technical program options for those students, why target one that has such an
important place in the community from which we draw a large percentage of our
students?At best, it seems
short-sighted. At worst, it affirms and reinforces institutional racism.
I find it hard to believe that the timing of the Charting the Future roll-out
and the closure of six programs is purely coincidental. When almost the exact
same language of financial panic is used at other two-year colleges to justify
layoffs of faculty and attacks on individual programs, it becomes hard not to
believe that a coordinated assault against faculty is underway. Frontline staff
and professionals in AFSCME and MAPE had suffered the year previous, now it was
our turn. We needed to “have some skin in the game”, I was told.At the same time, we brought in an interim VP
of Student Affairs and gave one interim dean a permanent position. Both without
a national search.
At MCTC, many course sections and adjuncts had already been cut, so the
notion that faculty have not bared their share of the financial burden is
ridiculous. At one of our shared governance meetings this past semester, we
pushed administration to see that their own hiring practices are problematic,
in that if there was money available to offer administrative positions
(comfortably in the six-figures) it would suggest that there could be other
avenues of cuts and reconfigurations so that we could sustain programs. In
response, we were told that administration would not comment on personnel
Perhaps I was naïve coming into this academic year. I thought that a statewide
push to cut the bureaucratic red tape that hinders student success would reinvigorate
the two-year system and serve our students’ best interests. That’s how Charting
the Future was marketed, and I was eager to believe it. Unfortunately, what I
have seen since then is an agenda being pushed by consultants and policy wonks
at the MnSCU system office (some of whom who have never so much as taught a
single session of single course at any level) that seemingly dismisses
experiential classroom evidence, labeling discussions of classroom culture
“vague” or “sticky”. The rubric rules the day. If there isn’t a clear metric
that demonstrates at program’s value in terms of wages, then the program isn’t
worth having. It has become more and more clear that Charting the Future
mandates are not based on the best pedagogical practices. We know that much of
the innovative work we do in the classroom isn’t readily quantifiable or able
to be charted- that’s just the nature of teaching. We also know that the most
important word in our school’s name is “community”. The proposed architecture
of narrowly-defined degree pathways like those proposed is anathema to that
Our institution functions on the student-faculty dynamic. Everything else
functions in support of that. To infantilize students by saying that they would
do better with fewer choices strikes me as profoundly short-sighted as well as
insulting. It further reinforces that our students are customers purchasing a
job ticket rather than active community members seeking to be educated. The
person who wishes to take a class or two for personal enrichment is not
institutionally valued. Get in, get your degree, get out and contribute to the
I believe in the value of a liberal arts education, and I also believe in offering
wide range of technical programs that speak to the needs of the community being
served. Doing so offers a diverse set of educational opportunities and vocational
choices for our students. Charting the Future will undermine both.