The news concerning the two new Masters programs for Monroe are unsettling. This institution founded in 1933 as essentially an entry level business skills school has come a long way and now we see a college with something over 2,250 or so students, having developed two Masters programs; one an MS and the other, an MBA.
The temptation to discuss its place in the academic community is almost overwhelming, but I can understand and appreciate the feelings that young students from our poorer and middle class populations, wanting, perhaps even needing a higher education. On that note, perhaps the leadership of this small private for profit school will reach develop in accordance with what it has stated.... graduates will master the "challenges and opportunities unique to urban communities around the globe and apply learning and research to make a positive impact."
Well, that is a tad strong for a school currently rated 46.6, and ranked 188th according to the website, State University.Com. You can check this out for yourself --- not so highly regarded academically in New York State and I could not find even a reference or rating for Monroe in the U.S. News and World Report.
Ok, so Monroe is entitled to boast about an exciting curricula and skilled faculty which will be associated with these programs and research component. Of course that is a bit of hyperbole; you get what you pay for as well as what credentials you offer to skilled faculty. But, that is ok as well.
I really support a third college; one especially dedicated toward the less fortunate in our community. However, you need to read, for one, Martin Sanchez's column on the recent findings of the Harkin Committee (Senator Harkin chairs the Senate's Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee). I will not repeat what Martin reports except to say (1) it is accurate and (2) it affects our community directly; either through having a negative impact on our commercial business plan potential as well as likely negatively impacting a good number of our community families in financial risk.
I am not going to echo what should be crystal clear to both families and mostly, our educational and yes, elected officials. We have oversold the myth that all children need a college education to get ahead. What we fail to factor in is the fact that all children are not college material and, to maintain how enrollment and graduation levels, too many are passed through the system, and end up jobless, holding a cap and tassel in their hands while seriously questioning what they let themselves in for.
And, adding insult to injury, there is the debt. Yes, Monroe is not relatively expensive as for profit colleges in NYS go -- I believe costs on campus average around $31,000. Yet, that is real money today and factor that times four or so and, this is a recipe for fiscal disaster brewed in large measure by the Obama people who pushed through a massive multi billion dollar extension of student loan program and are funding this from senior citizen pension and benefits program reserves.
So, here we have Monroe, rapidly attemtpting to become a sports dynasty and swallowing up scarce Community resources in the bargain. Where will this lead to or end.... that is up to our Council, our Community and all of you who respect our need to get back on the track of fiscal integrity, taxpayer relief, proper integrated planning for the community, and seeing that we have both the rule of law governing community disruption as well as a Code of Ethics governing how our elected officials attract money, grant favors, and build a community via fair play and preservation of equity for all.
And, so , the inevitable trip to Marc Jerome mastermind, skilled academic business leader, and checkbook diplomat. Perhaps the faculty of Monroe would do well to study how Marc operates in a community. I have some experience in developing high-end organization case studies for use in graduate schools and elsewhere and his modus operandi and skills would make an interesting story to tell to graduate students.
Marc and his family are heavy donors to the democratic party and to democratic office holders and candidates. These are variable in amount: for example, Noam would receive more than say, Ivar, but Louis would receive nothing. Now and then a bone, a few years earlier, Richard St Paul of the minority party was given what I think was an adjunct professor post.... a clever move given his aggressiveness and perceived influence in the New Rochelle community.
Interestingly, Ms. Rackman, receive considerably more than say, Jared. Why? Well, her mother has a relatively senior position in the Bronx Office.
Is this indicative of foul play? NO! Have any of the recipients behaved in any way to suggest a betrayal of the public trust? I will say NO! Here is the lesson for graduate students to learn on community management and control.
The checkbook diplomacy is similar to grandpa dropping in once a year and bringing a cool gift to junior. Junior is not in the habit of getting cool gifts or even being noticed by his parents. so, Junior has it fixed in his mind that grandopa is a swell guy and a wonderful family member. Junior is going to remember this when something comes to the table on a request or need that grandpa has. HE DOES NOT have to wring his hands (Grandpa)... he simply needs to ask or compete.
That is not nearly enough. Marc Jerome knows how to play many instruments in the community orchestra. Go to a Church requiring some financial assistance and perhaps he will book space for a class in theater. He looks about and sees with practiced eye that controlling the BID is an important step especially since the BID guy is essentially without ideas; a form not substance guy, and couldn't answer a basic question on what is going on in Avalon in terms of its management team, occupancy rate, mixture of high net worth lessees to dormitory occupants and so forth. Marc of course, like his brothers in arms at Iona want dormitory space, so he controls the agency that could look into it and give a factual report to the City.
The City administration of course, seems asleep at the wheel in terms of supporting its former, perhaps still present Residential business proposition. But so are the critics. we talk endlessly about 30 year abatement during favorable times, and fail to connect the dots on what is essential in developing downtown. This is urgent in terms of slowly, but steadily building a commercial base. You got to walk before running. You got to preserve, protect, look systematically at risks and consequences, and put a police precinct there to protect the tenouous foothold we have.
That foothold may include conflict with the rising negative incidents involving Monroe students. Of course Marc wants to solve that... he is too smart, maybe even too decent to avoid that obligation. But
Marc is so much smarter and effective than our city adminstration. He has mastered the search and occupy. He gets property and converts it to his school's use. In sum, he is very damn good at what he does....
I once offered up the point that a good Superintendent for our school district would be FUSE head Marty Daly. Why? Simple. He is much better at what he does than Organisicak is at what he does and I think the skills are transferable.
Marc Jerome would likely make a better mayor or at least city manager than we have on hand. He is smart and single minded. He is happy to stick is BID guy in some hard to find corner on Westchester Place. That makes Marc and Ralph both happy and the city fathers can continue to talk sophistic trash while the walls come tumbling down.
Ok big deal you say... Americans owe $150 billion dollars in private student loans. Not your problem you say.... hell you send your daughter to Columbia and you are up to paying the freight.
Good on you.... but listen up. You are part of a community which is part of a nation which is falling behind much of the world in many important vectors. You think you are isolated from the economic situation in Europe, the drug wars in Mexico, the killing fields in Mali? You think wrong and don't take my word for it... ask Marc Jerome.
If you have his ear, ask him about his default rate.
But, don't sell this guy short and don't blame him. He is doing his job and better than our folks are doing theirs. Caveat Emptor....
But, I do have one modest demand Marc. Even the odds a bit and resign from your BID position. Let someone else fill the role.
And City Council, you are doing better than ever before in my memory. NOw tell us what you plan to do about the Comprehensive Plan for 196-2012/2013, tell us where we can review it NOW, tell us where you will hold meetings with the community to discuss this in a non-partisan way and.....
Keep your enemies close and your friends closer.