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WCC Children’s Center: I am not understanding the question

I am receiving an increasing amount of feedback regarding the closure of WCC’s Children’s Center. That’s nice. I’m glad people are paying attention. I’m not glad that the Children’s Center is closing, and I’m certainly not happy about the classically ham-fisted way in which the WCC administration has gone about closing it.

From what I gather, the employees who were terminated found out about their job losses and the closure of the WCC Children’s Center from friends, acquaintances, and colleagues. No one in the WCC Administration talked to anyone who worked at the Children’s Center before deciding to close the facility. And apparently, no one in the WCC Administration talked to them after deciding to close it, either.

This is a transcript of the Trustees’ Spring Retreat, which surprised and disappointed me, in part because it tends to confirm what I have been hearing from the WCC community.

WCC Spring Trustee Retreat

Trustee Dianna McKnight-Morton: “VP Blakey, we’re talking about the Center being utilized by another space, and so where are the instructors and other people who work with the Child Care – where are they going? What’s going to happen with them? Are they going to be distributed, if they’re able and have the credentials, within the system – College system or what?

Linda Blakey: Ok. I’m sorry. I’m not understanding the question.

Rose Bellanca: Trustee… I mean Chair Milliken, can I refer to Larry Barkoff to answer that?

Trustee … I mean Chair Milliken: Sure. Larry, can you answer that for us?

Larry Barkoff: Absolutely. Can you hear me? Clearly? Um …the Center has been closed essentially for the last year, um so, we’re not a hundred percent certain if all of the employees who were there, whether they found work somewhere else yet, but there are 15 employees associated with the Child Care Center, uh, vast majority being unionized. Uh, we’ll be working with the union leadership to make sure that all the language that, you know, pertains to this issue is, of course, complied with; to answer the union’s questions; to – you know – to resolve issues, you know, employee issues. But we’ll be working with the union leadership to make sure that, um, you know we do comply with the collective bargaining agreements, and answer all their questions, and address their concerns.”

Trustee … I mean Chair Milliken: Does that answer your question, Dianna?

Trustee Dianna McKnight-Morton: Uh, yeah.”

Uh, no Dianna. It does not answer your question.

Are You Smarter Than A 7th Grader?

First, Trustee McKnight-Morton asked a direct and perfectly understandable question about the employees whom the College terminated – “Where are they going? What’s going to happen with them?”

The first answer she received from EVP Blakey was “I am not understanding the question.”

I understand the questions quite clearly, and I’m pretty sure the average person would understand them, too. But just to be sure, I assessed the comprehension level of the language Trustee McKnight-Morton used. This is 7th grade speech. The average person with a 7th grade education should understand Trustee McKnight-Morton’s questions.

So why does WCC have an EVP on the payroll who cannot understand 7th grade questions?

This administration is firing 15 people. Trustee McKnight-Morton wants to know what’s next for them? Instead of getting a direct (but probably unpleasant) answer, she gets an EVP who feigns ignorance. And then the College President lawyers up.

One hundred and thirty-two words later, she still doesn’t have an answer to the questions, “Where are they going? What’s going with happen to them?”

Where are they going? What’s going to happen with them?

I’ll answer the questions that no one in the WCC administration was willing to.

Where are they going? They’re going away.

What’s going to happen with them? Who cares? (Hint: no one in this administration.)

No one in the Administration has even bothered to make contact with the affected employees in more than a year. They have no idea whether these employees are working or not working. Living or dead. Or maybe, just sitting at home waiting for the phone call from WCC that’s never going to come. Just like that, they are no longer employees of the College where many of them have worked for years or decades. What happens to them is simply not this Administration’s problem.

The way this classless administration treats people is shameful. And it doesn’t matter whether they’re refusing to answer Trustees’ direct questions, taking affordable childcare away from poor people, or telling long-time employees in a public meeting that they’ve lost their jobs.

When the WCC faculty held a vote of no-confidence in Rose Bellanca, Dianna McKnight-Morton defended her, saying that the Trustees brought her in to be a “change agent.”

Is this really the “change” you had in mind, Dianna?

Photo Credit: Northridge Alumni Bear Facts, via Flickr