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College Talk Blog

Why don't institutions who serve students hire people who like them?

Looking at the scandal about the U Penn admissions officer who was fired for mocking admission application statements on Facebook took me back to other unsettling observations I've had in both higher education and k-12. The thing that struck me about all of them is that the people involved in them tended not to like or appreciate students and their world. Teachers of the year, favorite college staffers in admissions and financial aid and popular professors all have in common that they like students. If educational institutions included that trait in hiring at all staff levels, education would be a more successful environment for students.
Students are not little adults but rather seedlings at various stages of growth toward adulthood. Adults who make fun of them, treat them in an insensitive way or fail to help them succeed should not work with them. Ever. Parents who observe behavior that indicates a lack of appreciation for students need to point that out to school administrators who may not get that information from any other source. Students do not know that they should point out such behavior and other staffers are not likely to report them.
When parents do have a choice about where their child attends school, k-12 or college, they should note how staff staff treat them and their children when they visit. In addition to liking children, successful educators appreciate and enjoy working with parents. Parents and educators are natural allies in the support of students. Schools and colleges that employ people who demonstrate that they do not value students and families do not deserve the opportunity to serve them.  Be a good education consumer, insure that the school your child attends deserves the privilege of serving him.

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