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Teachers College urged to write a new chapter to tackle troubling times of "us and them"

Bailey argued that TC should view meeting its own challenges and addressing the world's problems as one and the same endeavor

Sunday December 9, 2018 11:44 PM, ummid.com News Network

Thomas R Bailey

New York: Thomas R. Bailey, one of the United States' leading authorities on community colleges, on Friday urged Teachers College staff, students, alumni and faculties to "write a new chapter" to tackle the emerging challenges of the world which is becoming intolerant with every passing day.

Called the current moment "unquestionably troubling times – not a period of "we", as it should be, but rather one of "us and them", Bailey cited global issues such as the rise of repressive regimes, growing intolerance and the othering of fellow human beings, and domestic ones such as a widening gap between haves and have nots, and the de facto re-segregation of American schools.

Addressing as the College's 11th President in a ceremony in Manhattan's Riverside Church, Bailey argued that Teachers College should view meeting its own challenges and addressing the world's problems as one and the same endeavor.

Bailey, a labor economist, detailed a plan for Teachers College to better marshal its resources to "build smarter, more productive, and more just societies" and create "a world with pathways for all to flourish."

"Success is imperative first, because our nation and our world need our knowledge, expertise, and graduates more urgently than ever before, and second, because we face many challenges as an institution", he told an audience of nearly 1,000 alumni, students, faculty and friends of Teachers College, Columbia University – the United States' first and largest graduate school of education, psychology and health.

In addition, he said, American higher education is facing "unprecedented skepticism" about its value and purpose.

"A substantial portion of the country sees higher education as lacking intellectual diversity, while soaring student debt is falling most heavily on those students least able to pay it off. Many critics and citizens are asking: Is college really worth it? Do public institutions deserve the funding they receive? Do private colleges and universities earn the ever-increasing tuition that they charge?" he asked.

"First and foremost, TC must better support its own students' pathways, from recruitment, through programs and internships, to career services, placement and beyond", Bailey said.

"The College must also develop its many small programs so that they work in concert and are synchronized and conducted with reference to one another — improvements that will make TC a place that our students and funders can better understand, navigate, and support" while also enabling stronger "recruitment and continuous professional development of our faculty", he said.

"And TC must do more within its own walls to ensure respect for equity, diversity, and a commitment to collegiality, including valuing others' perspectives not just in spite of how different their experience and political views might be, but because of those differences", the new president said.

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