“Stories from the Front” is the first chapter of The Academic Crisis of the Community College written by Professors Dennis McGrath and Martin Spear. In their book the authors describe the development of community college curricula from the early 1950s to the early 1990s. The book has been hailed as a very timely insider account of the academic crisis confronting community colleges today. A recent reviewer describing the book in Contemporary Sociology (a scholarly journal) wrote:
This is a book based not upon quantitative data but on the authors’ analysis of the works of others and on their own reasoned observations. McGrath and Spear are at their best when describing the realities of the community college classroom, the intellectual isolation and dispirited resignation of its faculty, and the trendy attempts to fix problems and clarify goals by patchwork adjustments to the curriculum. (Ann S. Sundgren)
Let’s see what we can say about that “crisis” from the introductory chapter you’ve been assigned to read. Consider in turn each of the three stories that the authors relate. According to the authors, what is supposed to be interesting or peculiar about each one? The third story is somewhat different from the first two. How does it relate to those others? What do the authors make of the stories?
Why do the authors tell these stories? Who is the audience for them, and what effect is the storytelling supposed to have on them, do you think?
How would you line up the Saltzman article (How Good Are Community Colleges?) with McGrath and Spear? Is he in agreement with M/S that the academic culture at community colleges is in crisis? How is Saltzman coming into the conversation about community colleges?