Running for Parkland Board

FeaturedRunning for Parkland Board

Why would someone who is currently a full-time professor at Parkland College decide to run for the Parkland Board of Trustees?

Simple. My friends and colleagues are losing their jobs.

Last November I learned through the grapevine that 8 faculty members would not receive tenure. In the community college world that means they were being laid off. It means they will not have a full-time teaching job the following academic year.

These people are not being let go because they were not doing their jobs. On the contrary. It seems the 8 have been exceptional faculty members. The reason the administration gave for these layoffs was budget cuts.

The lack of state funding caused the College to cut bright, young, talented faculty members.

These are not just any colleagues. These are people who help me march into my classes every day with a sense of hope and purpose despite the enormous challenges my students face. I teach developmental English, so I teach some of the community’s neediest, at-risk students. While I understand the financial situation that led to this decision, I cannot stand by and simply hope for the best.

I feel compelled to do whatever I can to keep our talented faculty. Running for the Board is my way of helping. It is my way of raising awareness of the situation at Parkland, pushing for a state budget, and funding for community colleges.

Articles and Interviews

Parkland College’s First African-American Trustee Faces Questions Due To Faculty Position

April 10, 2017 | BY JIM MEADOWS

UPDATED: Harden troubled by board’s decision

Thu, 04/27/2017 – 7:00am | Tom Kacich

Can students vote?


Absolutely! If you voted in town for the last presidential election in November 2016, then you are eligible to vote in the April 4th election.

As a Parkland student, you should take an interest in who is on the Parkland Board of Trustees. The Board decides when to raise tuition and fees, fund a program, begin a new program, or discontinue programs with low enrollment, for example. The Board has a lot of responsibilities that affects students.

Where is my polling place?

If you live in one of the larger apartment complexes, you can find your polling place below. If you are not sure or you want to double-check, here is the link to the Champaign County Clerk’s office that can give you that information. Champaign County Clerk’s Office Voter Information

Parkland Pointe
2002 W Bradley Ave.
Champaign, IL 61821

Polling Place:

Farm Bureau
801 Country Fair Dr.
Champaign IL 61821

Map        Driving Directions

One South
1321 N. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801

Polling Place:

Mt. Olive Baptist Church
808 E Bradley Ave.
Champaign, IL 61820

Map         Driving Directions

One North
1601 N. Lincoln Ave.
Urbana, IL 61801

Polling Place:

Mt. Olive Baptist Church
808 E Bradley Ave
Champaign, IL 61820

Map        Driving Directions

Westgate Apartments
1600 West Bradley Ave.
Champaign, IL 61821

Polling Place:

IL Employment and Training Ctr.
1307 N Mattis Ave.
Champaign, IL 61821

Map     Driving Directions

Town Center Apartments
2413 N Neil St.
Champaign, IL 61820

Polling Place:

The Church Of The Living God
312 E Bradley Ave.
Champaign, IL 61820

Map     Driving Directions

Champaign Apartments
2407 Hampshire Dr.
Champaign, IL 61820

Polling Place:

The Church Of The Living God
312 E Bradley Ave.
Champaign, IL 61820

Map     Driving Directions

Nantucket Cove Apartments
2001 Moreland Blvd.
Champaign, IL 61822

Polling Place:

The Church Of The Living God
312 E Bradley Ave.
Champaign, IL 61820

Map     Driving Directions

Can I vote early?

Yes! There are several early voting places in town, but the closest to Parkland is The Church of the Living God in Champaign on Bradley Ave.  The most popular early voting place is the Office of the Champaign Country Clerk in Urbana.

The Church of the Living God
312 E Bradley Ave, Champaign

  • Friday, March 31: 12:00pm – 5:00pm
  • Saturday, April 1: 10:00am – 1:00pm
  • Sunday, April 2: 1:00pm – 4:00pm
  • Monday, April 3: 10:00am – 6:00pm

Office of the Champaign County Clerk
1776 East Washington Street, Urbana

  • Monday, March 20 through Thursday, March 30: weekdays 8:00am – 4:30pm
  • Friday, March 31: 8:00am – 5:00pm
  • Saturday, April 1: 10:00am – 1:00pm
  • Sunday, April 2: 1:00pm – 4:00pm
  • Monday, April 3: 8:00am – 6:00pm

What will my ballot look like?

It depends where you live. However, because the Parkland Community College District 505 covers 11 different counties including most of Champaign County, the information about the Parkland  Board of Trustee Election will be the same. Like any election, you need to take the time to research all the candidates on the ballot. The easiest way to do that is to Google the person’s name and see what news article come up about them. You might also look for a candidate forum where all of the candidates answer the same questions to help you identify the differences between the candidates. As with any major decision, it should be taken seriously and researched to the best of your ability.


My Testimony to the House Appropriations – Higher Education Committee in Springfield, IL

My Testimony to the House Appropriations – Higher Education Committee in Springfield, IL

On Thursday, March 23, 2017, I traveled to Springfield, Illinois to testify in front of the House Appropriations – Higher Education Committee. I spoke about how the budget impasse is negatively impacting Parkland students, faculty, and staff. I asked for the committee and the legislature to pass a budget and re-invest in higher education in the state of Illinois. My prepared statement is below.

How did committee members respond? See below.

House Appropriations – Higher Education Committee
Public Hearing on FY 18 Higher Education Budget, CSU, ICCB
March 23, 2017   |   8:00AM   |   Room D-1 Stratton Building
Testimony Regarding House Bill HB 103 and HB3928

Good morning, my name is Rochelle Harden. I am an associate professor of Developmental English at Parkland College the local community college in Champaign, Illinois.

I want to thank Chairperson Kelly M. Burke, Vice-Chairperson Cynthia Soto, Republican Spokesperson Dan Brady, and fellow members of the House Appropriations – Higher Education Committee for the opportunity to speak to you today about House Bill 103 and House Bill 3928, two bills which I believe will benefit students and impact students’ success in Illinois’ system of higher education.

House Bill 103 calls for the funding of public institutions of higher education including community colleges and awards MAP grants that were promised to students.

House Bill 3928 calls for the funding of Illinois community colleges through the Illinois Community College Board.

The lack of a state budget and the lack of financial support to higher education and community colleges, specifically, is destroying access to higher education.

The land of Lincoln is no longer the land of opportunity.

I teach developmental education classes at Parkland. Sometimes it is referred to as remedial education, but remedial education assume students simply are missing parts of their education and once given the missing part, the students will be ready for college-level classes. Developmental education models depend on student development theories and pedagogy that focuses on adult learners. A better understanding of the students I teach explains why developmental theories work better.

My students overwhelmingly have a variety of learning disabilities; overwhelmingly qualify for financial aid grants; overwhelmingly take out student loans to supplement their travel, housing, and food expenses while in college; and overwhelmingly they must work at least part-time to support themselves financially.

Fewer and fewer of my students are straight out of high school. The average age for my students is 25. Many of my students are parents with school-aged children. And a larger portion of my students are African American and Latino when compared to the rest of the college.

Without significant emotional and financial support and personal resilience, my students often get bogged down in the terrifying juggle of college and life.

The students who most need a college education are watching their opportunities for a better life through education disappear. When tuition costs rise because the state is not funding higher education, my students have to take out more loans or work more hours at their part time job. The more hours they work, the less time they have to study for classes. The less time they devote to studying, the less likely they will be successful, the less likely they will progress through their classes, the less likely they will earn a degree or certificate, and the less likely their investment in their education at the expense of their future career earnings will pay off in the long run.

The state budget impasse has impacted these students in the most profound way. By not supporting higher education, we are telling my students that college is not important. Education is not important. Community colleges and universities around the state are laying off faculty. In the case of Parkland College, we are laying off dedicated, talented faculty because their contracts were the most vulnerable, not because they were not working their hardest to educate our students. Colleagues and coworkers have left the state for better opportunities because they got the message that higher education in Illinois is a bad investment for their family, their future, and their career. Dynamic and wise leaders and faculty are being pushed out by early retirement incentives. Programs like Adult Education have been cancelled indefinitely. Art programs and theatre programs have been significantly reduced. Student services that my students rely on such as disability services have been cut to the bone.

Because we are not supporting higher education, the students with the money, means, and opportunity, are leaving the state. Committed faculty and administrators are leaving the state for better opportunities and taking their talent and tax dollars with them.

Without state funding, equal access to higher education becomes a myth and open door policies become an act of fraud. When the amount of money students have decides whether or not they can attend and graduate college what results is a gentrification of higher education, pricing poor students out of the market.

While I agree that college is not for everyone, for poor and working class students, it is the only path to some degree of employment stability and a livable wage.

I believe in the power of education, and I believe in the community college mission. For the past 13 years I have dedicated my professional life to teaching developmental students, despite being qualified to teach higher levels. I chose to teach developmental students. I chose to teach at a community college because I saw a proud tradition in the state of Illinois that once championed the community college movement and made great efforts to set up public colleges throughout the state, ensuring access for all residents. However, due to the lack of state funding, we are witnessing the destruction of higher education in Illinois. We are witnessing the demise of one of our greatest assets.

I beg of you, members of the House Appropriations – Higher Education Committee, senators and representatives from around the state, the entire 100th General Assembly, and Governor Rauner, please, please fund higher education in the state of Illinois. Please, pass House Bill 103 and House Bill 3928. Please, support developmental students, community colleges, and all the public colleges and universities in the state of Illinois.

Thank you.

Rochelle Harden

How did committee members respond? 

Several representatives had encouraging message for me and my students.


Parkland Needs a State Budget

Parkland Needs a State Budget

The headline reads: “State of the Standoff: In Budget Inaction, Illinois Has No Peer.” The article written by Dan Petrella tells the awful tale of the budget impasse currently going on in Illinois. It discusses the loss, the disappointment, and frustration that many people are feeling.

It is now clear to me that all over the state, higher education has been left to wither and die on the vine.

What took a century or more to create, in the case of some public universities like the University of Illinois and half a century in the case of Parkland College, is now being destroyed. The lack of state funding in the last two years is systematically destroying one of the states’ greatest assets.

In a time when a college education is necessary in the current job market, slashing state funding has crippled Parkland’s ability to attract students. Parkland has never been in competition with the University of Illinois. U of I is the golden jewel of the state.

What Parkland does is provide opportunities for students who cannot attend the U of I right away. Parkland’s open door policy means we take all-comers with a high school diploma regardless of reading, writing, or mathematical ability. We provide opportunity for students with a wide variety of disabilities. We meet students where they are and try to take them wherever they want to go. But without proper funding, we will be forced to narrow our focus to inexpensive programs and students who are college-ready right out of high school. We will begin to walk, talk, and act like a small private college.

I choose to teach at a community college. I choose to teach developmental students. I believe in the power of education and the mission of the community college. I have dedicated my professional life to it. However, all around me students and colleagues are leaving Parkland and the state for better opportunities.

Sometimes is it especially difficult to fight off the desire to curl into a ball or the intense desire to vent my frustration. It causes to me to question whether the budget impasse has been specifically designed to destroy public higher education and social services in the state of Illinois.

I try to remember that the students sitting in my classes did not have a hand in creating the current mess. Like all my students before them, they deserve the best education possible. I focus on that.

In my private time, I focus on pushing for a state budget. Parkland College needs a state budget–now. We cannot wait another two years for the leadership in the legislature or the governor’s office to change. The decisions we are being forced to make today will have long term repercussions that we may never recover from.

Please, take a moment to call your state representatives and tell them, “Parkland College needs a state budget. Pass a state budget–now!”

Who are my state representatives?

Find the names and phone numbers of state representatives at the Illinois State Board of Election website.