A smiling group of 13 students pose in a classroom with fists and peace hand signs raised.
Students in a High Intermediate English Language Acquisition Class in Baltimore on Adult Education & Family Literacy Week, 2017

Are the institutional challenges emergent multilingual immigrant students navigate in community college admissions any more “Kafkaesque visions of random bureaucratic dysfunction” (Harklau 2016: 602) than the elite college admissions process characterized by Operation Varsity Blues? Both are scandalous. Both belie higher education’s rosy self-image as a meritocratic ladder of social mobility. Where some scholars and practitioners see “random bureaucratic dysfunction”, I see designed bureaucratic intention.

Antiracist, equitable, and inclusionary praxes are not being thwarted randomly, but systemically. That actually makes me hopeful. I don’t know how to reform randomness. I do know how to reform systems.

Reform isn’t enough, though. Education policy in the U.S. over the last seven decades has consistently revealed the “limits of liberalism” (Baum 2011). We need to renovate and reorient. Lots to do.

--

--

Owen Silverman Andrews

Owen Silverman Andrews

I write about solidarity organizing, electoral politics, language learning, multilingual ed, community college, and occasional fiction. owensandrews@gmail.com