Monday, August 24, 2015


Mayor Blair Milo

The college hosted a convocation last week. As much as I hate meetings I went, figuring I couldn't do much else with the back still not up to snuff and I might learn a bit more about the mission of the college. Things got started with opening remarks from the Chancellor. His remarks were of the expected nature. He covered the necessary things like budget, personnel and other items of business - pretty much what I expected.  He was followed by the keynote speaker, which wasn't what I expected, Blair Milo, the Mayor of LaPorte. Ms Milo is quite the young lady - only thirty-two years old, Master's Degree, Ensign in the US Navy, ran a marathon earlier this year. Obviously a real go-getter.

Mayor Milo based her remarks primarily around a graph from the book Coming Apart written by Charles Murray. The graph shows that in the last 50 years or so the percentage of wealth by the small percentage at the top has grown enormously while everyone else at or near the middle class and down, their wealth has remained the same. On the mayor's hand drawn graph, the line representing the growth at the top was like she was drawing the Matterhorn as steep as it was. For the rest of us working stiffs, a flat line. I was expecting the mayor to start with the Robin Hood thing of tax the rich and give to the poor but that wasn't the case. She's fine with the rich being rich, she's not fine with the rest of us struggling along with no improvement in sight. Her answer? Education and jobs. That's an over simplification of a very fine presentation, but that's always what it boils down to.

There were several panel discussions after the mayor's speech with people from the college and the community and again, through partnerships with business, industry, chambers of commerce, The United Way and others, the answer to improving the lives of individuals and communities is education and jobs. How do we get there?

The Chancellor, the Mayor and the panel discussions were all centered around the theme of engagement. To make a difference, everyone, at all levels, needs to be engaged to bring about positive change. (One of the things I've always maintained is that schools, especially at the lower levels, don't do near enough to get and keep students engaged in their educations. I doubt seriously Common Core is going to help matters anymore than No Child Left Behind did.You need to play to their strengths but I'll save that one for my manifesto.) The panel discussions told of just how this engagement is currently playing out and ways for all of us at the college to get involved and become more engaged.

On a side note, when her Honor the Mayor mentioned Charles Murray, the name rang a bell but I couldn't place it at first. Charles Murray was the co-author of The Bell Curve that came out about twenty years ago. It caused a big stink in educational circles at the time. I've never read it but I remember the uproar. I am intrigued by Coming Apart. I might tackle that one this winter.

All in all, not a bad day at the convocation. It's good to hang around with people smarter than you are once in a while.

No comments: