Education for masses in ‘People’s College’

Larry Harris

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[media-credit id=1 align=”alignleft” width=”150″]Michelle Blair[/media-credit]Michelle Blair, an English professor at San Jose City College since 1999, is in the middle of another film documentary centered on challenges of the local community college system.

“The local community college is in difficult times,” Blair said. “Today’s community college system is open to much of the country’s marginalized, disenfranchised, first generation, and “at risk’ students.

Blair said the diversity of minorities, senior citizens, immigrants, ESL speakers, parolees, ex-convicts, recovering addicts, single mothers, high school mothers and, students with few basic skills all challenge the purpose of the community college system purpose to produce the qualified workers and leaders our country will require tomorrow.”

“The film will follow the path of sdix students i the course of four semesters as they hope to attain the associates of art degrees. The feature length film will show the subjects in and out of the classroom revealing the challenges they face in balancing family, work, homework, tuition, and life, in general.

“ The subjects represent a cross section of ages, races, social-economic bacgrounds and interest.

Interspersed with these students’ stories is the fundamental story and purpose of the community college and the issues it faces, the clarity of its mission and effectiveness to increase graduation and transfer rates, working with remedial students from all walks of life.

Blair said she hopes the documentary will “educate the casual observer about the integral first step of the public higher education system.” She also said she hopes the film will “encourage those teachers in the field, changes the attitude of the politicians to further fund the community college system and more importantly inspires the student who never thought they could attend college to do so.”

It (the clip) was very moving,” said Karrawinds Salters, 35, a social and behavioral sciences student. “I showed the clip at my last Region IV meeting, and it brought them to tears.

SJCC is one of 13colleges in Region IV, the student representative arm of California community colleges.

”I believe the documentary will be a strong advocate for the community college system and possibility lead to better funding for our community college system,” Salters said.

ASB Advisor, Jennifer Neil was asked her thoughts on the movie project, “I think what Michelle is doing is really interesting; it brings a personal side to who community college students are. It is exciting to see the whole campus getting involved in the process. The ASB is working hard to support her with a donut fundraiser November 15.”

“She (Michelle) is a very passionate person and when she believes in something she goes for it wholeheartedly. I can’t wait to see the movie.”
The total estimated costs to produce the film will exceed $250,000. Blair said. She plans to fund the film with donations, fundraisers and grants.
Release dates have not been set for Peoples college.

This film is not intended as a promotional vehicle for San Jose City College, nor is it a production of the college.