Where’s Kafka when you need him? We wish we could assign the German novelist and master of bureaucratic absurdity to cover Gila Community College: Seems like a prefect fit.
The latest example came when the Roundup sought statistics on dropout and completion rates from GCC, to include in a story about an analysis by the Goldwater Institute.
That analysis offered a disturbing suggestion that fewer than one in five students who take community college classes end up with a degree. The Goldwater Institute therefore concluded we’re all wasting our money on people who take classes and don’t get a degree and suggested the state should slash support for community colleges.
We adamantly disagree with that conclusion. Lots of people take enrichment classes at the community college without ever intending to collect a degree — including many people who already have a college degree. That’s especially true in Payson, with its rich and diverse retirement community.
We believe that community colleges play such a vital role in providing enrichment and retraining that the state should increase support — not slash it. But that’s not the point that made us feel so maddeningly Kafkaesque.
The Goldwater Report didn’t include statistics from Gila Community College, since it’s a provisional community college administered by Eastern Arizona College.
So, naturally enough, we called GCC and asked for statistics on graduation, dropout and completion rates.
They told us to file a public records request.
All right: Kind of ridiculous to make the public jump through hoops for a straightforward statistic from a publically funded institution. But hey, we’re willing.
So we sent GCC a records request. What did they do?
They referred it to their attorney — at lord knows how much an hour. Really? You need to get a lawyer’s advice to reveal your three-year graduation rate? Ridiculous. We deal with lots of public agencies, but GCC remains unique.
In fact, we could write a short story about the bizarre world created by such an attitude toward the press and the public. We would set it down just as it happened.
But people would call us absurdist. They would assume we were speaking metaphorically.
Where’s Kafka when you need him?
Mayor reveals true stakes in ASU plan
Payson Mayor Kenny Evans Thursday revealed some small measure of the stakes involved in the bold effort to convince Arizona State University to build a college campus here.
He lifted the veil on the town’s conversations with some of the businesses that campus may attract, including a Chinese manufacturing plant to assemble solar cells.
The world’s largest maker of such devices may become the anchor tenant for a proposed research park that would share a portion of the 300-acre site with classrooms and dorms for 1,500 to 6,000 students.
Payson has had repeated conversations with Chinese officials about the alluring possibility, which could provide precious jobs for our hard-pressed region.
Now, we know that the campus and all its spinoff benefits remains uncertain. Perhaps the state legislature will go completely mad and cut off funding for any increase in university enrollment. Perhaps the promised financing will somehow come apart if the economy topples backwards into a new recession. Anything could happen.
Still, the details revealed publically by Mayor Evans for the first time this week demonstrate the depth and quality of the thought that has already gone into a proposal that once seemed a delusion.
Evans’ patient, detailed, visionary grasp of the details seemed to win over many of the listeners at the Citizens Awareness Committee. The public-spirited deeply involved members of the CAC have a hard-won record for skepticism. Now those same involved citizens seem increasingly won over by the force of Evans’ vision and the detail of his description.
So we applaud Evans for his pragmatic, seemingly inexhaustible crusade to make this wild dream a glint-eyed reality. And we applaud the town council and all the other people who have worked so hard on this game-changing possibility. We especially rejoice at the focus on using the campus and its spin-offs to catalyze a transformation of the region’s economy.
We need clean industries that will resist the boom-bust cycles that have proved so crippling to both this region and the whole state.
And while we’re at it, might as well give thanks that Tourism Director Cameron Davis lived in China. Never know when fluent Mandarin will come in handy.