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"Safety" has now become the latest excuse for a college trying to duck responsibility for childcare. Ogeechee Technical College president Dawn Cartee announced the closure of the campus childcare center in Statesboro, GA, arguing that colleges are dangerous places for small kids. In a March 28 letter to parents, according to an article in The Statesboro Herald, Cartee wrote:

"First and foremost, the safety of every child…is of great importance to us…You need only look at the news from around the country over the past weeks and months to know that a college campus is not always a safe place, and in my view, certainly not a safe place for a child care facility…Shootings, hostage situations, kidnappings, and other incidents have sadly become commonplace on college campuses… there are no guarantees."

Quite. There are certainly no guarantees for the employees and students of OTC who will now have to scramble for childcare, having been notified of the closure after the close of the registration period for fall. There are certainly no guarantees of decent childcare: A college spokesman pointed to the fifty-plus childcare programs in town as the answer to the problem, but neglected to mention that most of them are of poor quality, and that the good programs are oversubscribed.

When I gave birth to my son in Statesboro in 1999, OTC's child care center had an extremely long waiting list, and, although I put his name down as soon as I was allowed, we were never called (Georgia Southern University, my employer, did not offer infant childcare at that time). I was only able to find a spot in an acceptable childcare after another baby was diagnosed with a terminal illness, and left the program. I have heard little to suggest that the childcare situation is much improved since those days.

But, of course, there is another reason for the closure of OTC's program, according to Cartee's letter, quoted in the Herald, and that, of course, is the fact that money is spent on it:

"A second issue… is the strain on our budget which the center represents," Cartee wrote. "Since 2003, a substantial portion of our annual budget is utilized each year to subsidize the operation of the CEC – all with local tuition dollars, without the support of state funds…"

And then there's a third argument: God forbid that we as a society should support childcare:

"…while offering child care has been a noble undertaking, it is not our primary focus," Cartee wrote. "We cannot longer justify offering what is essentially a taxpayer supplemented child care program."

According to the OTC web site, this is the college's mission:

"Ogeechee Technical College is a public, two-year student-centered postsecondary educational institution that exists to facilitate economic growth and community development through quality educational programs and services for students, business, industry, and service organizations by offering technical education, adult literacy services, customized training, and workforce development opportunities. Ogeechee Technical College is committed to emphasizing the essential values of work ethics, community service, and lifelong learning. "

They might want to scratch the references to service.


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