Short takes on issues
Hair 'n' gone • It's a sad turn of events. Salt Lake Community College has decided to eliminate its barbering and cosmetology program, forcing students to enroll at a state applied technology college or pay tuition to a private cosmetology school. Neither of those alternatives is objectionable, but neither includes a program of basic math and English that SLCC cosmetology students are required to take to earn a certificate. That broader college experience is invaluable. The reason given for the change is that SLCC wants to focus on training students for more lucrative careers. That's a lofty goal, but Utah's largest college should recognize that not everyone is interested in what SLCC deems a worthy vocation. Hair-cutting and styling and other beauty-arts skills have been used by millions to start their own businesses or work at shops or salons with flexible schedules. It seems cosmetology is right in line with programs that a community college should provide.
Better representation • Salt Lake City Councilman Kyle LaMalfa has made good on a campaign promise to expand city school board representation farther into westside neighborhoods. The realigned Districts 1, 2, 4 and 5 now include more of the city's diverse west side, where half the city's school-age children live. LaMalfa rightly complained during the municipal election campaign last year that those kids were not being properly represented. The City Council and a volunteer committee redrew the district boundaries over a period of months. There are no uncontested seats in this year's election, and westsiders are better represented among candidates, too.
Return on investment? • Pioneer Craft House pays $1 per year to rent its home in South Salt Lake. The mayor and City Council of South Salt Lake, which took over ownership of the property from the Granite School District in 2004, have decided that the city is not getting a high enough return on its investment. They want the institution to pay $2,000-$3,000 per month in rent. It's no surprise that Pioneer Craft House doesn't have that kind of money. Someone should explain to the elected leaders of South Salt Lake that support for the arts is not about return on investment. Arts organizations survive on subsidies, and return on investment is not the right way to think about arts patronage. If you want return on investment, you buy stocks and bonds. If you want to enrich the cultural fabric of your community, you give to the arts. Pioneer Craft House is an old and unusual institution. And for a city, a $70,000 annual subsidy is peanuts.