This is a question I’ve been asking myself over the last several days.
If a central theme has come out of this blog over the last almost two months it has been active (and long before that in my private conversations with folks) is that the higher education game is rigged and what we are seeing today was at best foreseeable and at worst planned, engineered.
So if the game is rigged, if the rules don’t change, you will lose the game.
You will lose the game if you try to play it. Which is what the vast majority of us in higher ed have done in the years since Bobby Jindal took office.
You will also lose the game if you do what I have done and challenge it, because if you don’t play, the house wins. But I’m not doing this to win a game, I’m doing this to EXPOSE the game.
Another metaphor I’ve used to describe higher education is that of a human body… one that was susceptible to illness or injury, but with proper nutrition and treatment would be ok. But we’ve instead been starved (of students AND funds), abused and mistreated. And now we have to make a decision… lose a leg or arm (or multiple limbs) to survive, or try and save the whole thing even if it’s almost too late?
And I am afraid that behind closed doors, this deal is being made now. And that saving the entire body is becoming less of an option with each passing day and new revelation about Jindal’s budget. So, which arms and legs are going to be cut off?
Heck, it won’t be LSU. I appreciate everyone fighting for LSU and LSU is worth fighting for. But at the end of the day, cutting off LSU is like cutting the heart out or worse, is like decapitation. It won’t happen.
What will happen is that a leg and/or arm will come off to preserve the head and the heart.
But will the body be whole? No. It will survive. But it won’t be whole.
And the tragedy is that this could have been avoided. The tragedy is that this was more than likely planned.
And who is fighting? As Bob Mann has said, not many.
So the other question I have to ask is… do we care? And if most people don’t care, should I care? Should I continue fighting and put my higher education career on the line when it seems no one else cares enough to fight with me? And I don’t mean flailing around saying stuff in the Advocate fighting, but addressing the things that got us to where we are, strategic fighting.
I’m not sure I care enough about the higher ed system per se. I’m not fighting for my job. I would give up and quit today if that was all I had been fighting for. But I DO care about our students. I will watch my career blow up like a bad action movie for our students.
Right now, I feel like I’m going to lose, and lose bad. I’ve said that I don’t think my 20-year career in higher ed will last beyond this summer, and that isn’t a metaphor or hyperbole. I really mean it. I’m making concrete plans for life beyond higher education. And feeling really sad doing it because I don’t want to go.
But I am not hopeful that the higher education that will come out the other side of this legislative session will be one I want to work in anyway. Plus we are seeing that the Louisiana model for higher education (defund and destroy) is being implemented in other states, notably Wisconsin. And while our illustrious governor will only be President in his wildest delusions, the guy running Wisconsin does have a chance… which means that public education nationwide will soon go through the same thing.
I don’t feel like fighting. I feel like crawling in a cave to die. I feel like I’m in the fourth stage of grief–depression–the next one is acceptance and going there means accepting the unacceptable.
But the true fight is fighting even when you don’t feel like it, and fighting even when all seems lost. Fighting for something worth fighting for.
And the future of our state’s children is our future, period. If they aren’t worth fighting for then heck, why, oh WHY are you in education? How do you even have a pulse?
So I fight on. Even though I’m probably going to lose in the short term. But in the long run this is a game which must stop and a war that MUST be won.