Tag Archives: McHenry County College

April Showers Brought Some Sh*t

Last month I posted about an election for two open seats on my college’s board of trustees, and…we lost. We managed to win one of the seats (Liddell — yahoo!) but we lost the other, and it was a real gut-punch.

I was in the doldrums for a couple of weeks about the loss. I felt crummy about my community and uncertain about the future of my college (will losing this seat mean another reduction in force? it’s almost certain.) I just doldrummed around for a while. Doldrumming. It was the pits.

And when I finally snapped out of it, I was swept up in grading student work and continued to neglect the blog. But now I’m giving it the attention it deserves and have decided to write a little post about some fun and happy things.

Here they are:

T. and I spent Easter with my nerd-tastic family, and we played around on Bo and Leo’s new jungle-gym. It was a hell of a lot of fun.

These are some good-looking family members. “Hot”, though? I don’t know.

Bo schooled us in monkeying around the jungle-gym

Leo got to the top very easily

Leo was a huge fan of his bunny Pez dispenser.

He was such a huge fan, in fact, that he picked up every single Pez piece he dropped in the grass. Every. Single. Piece.

There’s one

Hmm, thanks. Should I eat it?

Yes. Yes, I should.

Even T. got into the action.

Next, we got to celebrate the upcoming wedding of these two amazing humans:

Jayson and Cristen are getting MARRIED!

Jayson and Cristen are two of our favorite people on earth, and they’re getting married this summer — and we are very excited! I hung out at C.’s bridal shower last weekend, chatted up her wonderful family, ate some excellent food, and beat everyone at the couple’s trivia game. I owned that shower; I owned it!

Everyone also got these sweet party gifts. Thanks, Aunt Karen!

Cristen, I forgot to tell you that I had all of my classes analyze your short film “A Big Top Dream” for an in-class activity we did three weeks ago. They loved it (not surprising). Hey, everyone should watch it. Here it is (it’s literally one minute long and totally great, so just watch it):

 

I also planted some flowers from seeds that one of my students gave me. She’s getting her degree in horticulture, and I get to reap (get it?) the benefits!

Hey tiny flower seedlings!

And last but not least, Roo got a snood and she hates it! Hates it! And we think it’s HILARIOUS.

Erhmehgher get this off my head

She has this little scabby on the end of her ear that never really heals; she shakes her head and it immediately breaks off and shoots little blood droplets all over the place. We usually put a band-aid on it, but at her latest vaccination appointment the vet gave her some medicine to help with blood clotting and fitted her with this amazing head piece to help her ears from flopping around.

In about 30 seconds she’d shaken her ear free. So. Snood fail. #snoodfail

If you remember, last October Trevor and I hosted a visitor from the Netherlands as a scholar-exchange program through school. Well, it’s now time for the second half of the exchange, and I’m leaving for the Netherlands. Tomorrow!

I’ll have a lot more to say about that, so stay tuned. There will be posts-a-plenty and loads of pictures. Wish me luck!

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Voting Is Important

On Tuesday, April 4, there will be a consolidated election in McHenry County, as there will be elections all over the state; and as part of that election, my community will be voting to fill two seats on McHenry County College’s Board of Trustees.

And it’s a big deal.

Elections are always a big deal; I know this. They’re a big deal, and everyone should educate themselves about elections in their communities (even though it’s sometimes a pain to do research), and everyone should get out on election days and vote (even though it’s not always convenient to go vote on a random Tuesday in April).

But you know what’s on the table for this election, and for the school where I’ve worked for over a decade? Civility, decency, and education itself.

See, out of the four people running for the two available seats on MCC’s Board, there are two reasonable, measured, thoughtful human beings: Linda Liddell, an incumbent running for her seat, and Tom Allen, an MCC alumni.

Liddell and Allen are friends of MCC: they are pro-faculty, pro-student, and pro-education. MCC’s faculty and staff unions have both endorsed Liddell and Allen. I’d place a safe bet that nearly all (maybe 99.99%) of MCC’s employees are going to vote for Liddell and Allen. I’m voting for Liddell and Allen.

Yeah, I made these signs myself; and yeah, I laminated them. BOOM.

And wouldn’t it be nice if we could just end it there? With some laminated signs and a bit of silliness? It would be, right? But we can’t.

We can’t end it there because the woman who’s running for one of the two open spots is a terrifying person. Her name is Diane Evertsen and she needs to be discussed.

Evertsen was, and likely still is a member of the “Minuteman Project,” a group designed to watch the U.S. border in an effort to keep out illegal immigrants. Evertsen published posts on her family’s Minutemen Midwest blog (yes, her family had their own Minutemen blog) about President Barack Obama and undocumented immigrants, and the language used on the family’s blog is unfit to repeat. Why is that language used by Evertsen and her family unfit to repeat? Because it’s despicable, racist language.

In 2010, the Evertsens tried to purge the internet of their work by deleting the site, but someone archived them on a separate blog to prevent the family from hiding.

But these archived posts are not the only traces of Diane Evertsen’s problematic views. In 2008, the Mexican Consulate visited Harvard Junior High School to register community members for consular ID cards, and Evertsen, a resident of Harvard, protested. She gave a three-minute presentation to the Harvard school board. Her message was intolerant but not surprising, given her affiliation with the “Minuteman Project.”

Excerpt from Evertsen’s presentation

Harvard is a small town about twenty miles from MCC, and it’s one of the towns our college serves. While McHenry County’s Latino population is about 12%, estimated by recent U.S. Census data, Harvard’s Latino population is about 37%. These residents of Harvard attend my college — I have four students from Harvard in my classrooms alone — and the growing Latino population in McHenry County as a whole is a population that the college is actively engaged in serving. According to MCC’s 2013 Environmental Scan, the college wants to join other institutions to “be seen as a successful bridge for students stepping out from their local communities into the global economy” (pp. 27). The report goes on to say this:

Successful performance in today’s rapidly multicultural workforce requires sensitivity to human differences and the ability to relate to people from varied cultural backgrounds. Thus, an increasingly important postsecondary educational outcome is helping students become more comfortable and competent in moving personally and professionally among cultures of the world. A related outcome is to prepare students to engage in worldwide activities related to education, business, and social interaction. (pp. 27)

Evertsen does not seem to show sensitivity to human differences. In fact, she seems to show the exact opposite. This is not a person we want sitting on the college’s Board of Trustees.

Evertsen and her running mate are promoting a platform of no new taxes, which is the platform that contributed to the reduction in force of nineteen MCC employees earlier this month, including four full-time faculty members. If the Board of Trustees continues to refuse to vote on a tax levy in the upcoming year, this first RIF will not be our last.

Many residents of McHenry County are anti-tax. We have some of the highest property taxes in the state, and the community doesn’t like it. In November, Crystal Lake residents voted down a $132 annual household tax to build a new library. That’s right: $132 a year, per household. For a public library.

Trevor and I voted “YES” for the new library. The majority of the city did not.

So I’m fearful that these same voters will stop their investigations at Evertsen’s campaign slogan. Please, voters: keep digging. There is much more to this person, and none of it is good for our college, for our students, or for our community.

I write this post in an effort to spread the word about Evertsen and to encourage everyone to get out and vote on Tuesday, April 4. School districts in Palatine and Elgin are also facing important votes, including votes about restrictions on transgender students’ rights to use the bathroom. This isn’t an election to sit out. There is no election to sit out.

Whether your town is voting for mayor, alderman, school board, or legislation, find out what’s best — what’s not racist, not intolerant — and then go out and support it in the most democratically empowering way you can: by voting.

We are a flag house; we are a lawn sign house

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A Day Without Four Women

Wednesday, March 8 is International Women’s Day, which is a day, according to the IWD campaign’s website, “celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating gender parity.”

And it is because of that call to action that I am writing. Today I participated in A Day Without A Woman, and took a personal day from work, have abstained from all social media, and haven’t spent any money (although if I had, I’d have spent money with women-owned businesses…). Trevor, who is employed at a woman-owned business, has been working from home today, and has taken Roo on all of her walks, has made us lunch, and will be making us dinner. Hopefully soon.

And I was looking forward to the day as my small part in a much larger movement. I wasn’t able to march in January (although I knitted some pink pussy hats that my amazing lady friends rocked at the March on Washington), so, for me, this day felt like my own little march — my march for equality and for justice and to recognize the privilege and the duty that I have as a citizen of the United States to protest in the first place.

But yesterday, Tuesday, March 7, I had the worst day of my professional life, and I needed to change my focus and my view of what I was protesting for.

Yesterday, four of my colleagues in the counseling department at McHenry County College — four women who have served the college in every imaginable way, consistently, and frequently without thanks — were let go as part of the college’s reduction in force. Three of these four women are part of the eighteen-member faculty cohort I led through our new faculty orientation program during my first year as chair of faculty development in 2009; the fourth has worked at the college for over twenty years. One of these women leads the grief support group and the Autism support group at the college; one of these women wrote the textbook now used in the college’s freshman experience course; one of these women sat on our union’s negotiating team for six months to help craft the language under which I am now employed and under which they have now been terminated; one of these women organized an interview session last week with the candidates for the upcoming Board of Trustees vote so that our faculty could get to know them and make an informed decision. These women have helped MCC’s six thousand students with career planning, navigating college for the first time, and crisis intervention. And today, along with all of the counseling adjunct faculty members, these four women are gone.

But the students who needed them are still on campus, hoping to get help with career planning, hoping to get assistance navigating college, and hoping for someone to take their hands and help them out of crisis.

For the past three years, the college has been operating its budget at a deficit, most recently because of the lack of state funding promised to us and other public institutions caused by Governor Rauner’s budget…issues. One third of our operational money is supposed to come from the state; a third from the county; and a third from tuition. So, without that money from the state, the college was facing either raising tuition (we are currently at $104 per credit hour, while area institutions College of Lake County, Elgin Community College, and Kishwaukee College are at $112, $125, and $129 respectively) or voting on a tax levy, which they have refused to do for years.

So the college needed to put a bandage on this gaping wound, and a reduction in force for faculty, staff, and administrators seemed a necessary evil.

There is no good in this. There is no silver lining. And I know that that MCC is late to the game in terms of a RIF: CLC, Elgin, and Kish have all experienced layoffs starting in August 2016, and the board of Rock Valley College just voted to lay off twenty-eight faculty members; and it’s their second round of cuts. But that doesn’t make our situation any easier to swallow.

It doesn’t change the life-sucking reality that yesterday I tried to help my colleagues, who’d been given five minutes to collect their things and leave, pack their offices into boxes. Years and years and years of accumulated office supplies — many emblazoned with the college’s logo — and books and knick-knacks and gifts and cards from students. And when I got back to my own office and sat at my desk, looking at my collection of supplies, books, student-gifted knick-knacks and student-created paintings and writings, I grieved for my colleagues and for the students who will need them.

Today is A Day Without A Woman. It is a day we hope the world will realize how much women contribute to our society, to our collective whole. We are not better; we are not more important; but we are equal and we deserve to be treated as such.

There are many problems that need to be fixed, and today I will start work to solve them, beginning with my college. I will campaign for the two trustee candidates for my college board, Linda Liddell and Tom Allen, who I believe will best help us. I will vote for Liddell and Allen on April 4, 2017, and I will recruit as many people as I can to vote with me.

Today I started marching. Tomorrow I will continue.