Monday, May 14, 2012

Proposing an End to Remediation

My nephew just finished Spring classes at Star-Base 351.  He is studying hamster neural-nets and was in hopes of saving some money by taking the remainder of his courses at one of the community colleges, as opposed to shelling out a lump sum at the stated funded university that likes to project the image of a private school.

No classes were available.

The CC's aren't closed for the summer.  They are just, well, um, preoccupied.  Preoccupied with re-mediating  people.  So many resources are spent on re-mediating people that nothing is left for other things,  like hamster neural-nets.

I seem to remember that, at least in the area where I grew up, CC's weren't primarily preoccupied with re-mediating people.  There were remedial courses, but most of the resources were spent on more college-level courses.  Flashback to the year 1998, the year I graduated high-school.  Good ol' 1998, how I miss thee!

Back in '98, if people didn't learn how to add fractions in high-school (or more appropriately 4th grade), one either
    1)  Took night classes at the adult school.
    2)  Hired a tutor.
    3)  Paid attention, after making a commitment to attend college after graduation.
    4)  Stopped hittin' the pipe.

Note:  Parenting also helped.

As for people who blew off #1-4, well they learned that there were consequences for being foolish.  They went on to college and had to learn the hard way that there was a drastic difference between high-school math and remedial math at the CC.  Upon finding that out, one would go ahead and employ #1-4 simply because the stakes were too high.  There was still some rigor involved and, gasp, teachers were actually allowed to write tests that required some critical thinking.  There still was remediation at the CC's but not like what it has devolved into today.

I understand that there are other factors.  For instance, the government at Star-Base 351 ran out of funding last year.  That translates into fewer classes.

Upon having a chit-chat with a friend, her response was, "My God EMH, if the CC's aren't here to re-mediate people then what are they here for."

My response:  "If you can't add fractions by the time you graduate high-school then maybe you have no business being in college.  Take the problem back to the high-school that supposedly caused it and/or take night classes."

Dealt a bad hand?  Take it up with the dealer.

But don't make it the problem of the CC's.  Don't come to me with the intent to take me down just because YOU hate math!

High schools are not doing their jobs.  It's time to MAKE them do their jobs, before America gets driven deeper into the mud.


Here's a line I constantly hear:  "I went to a Catholic school.  Nuns were mean to me!  Nuns were mean to me!  That's why math is hard."

Or:  "I tried taking this class at the Uni.  It was hella hard!  I kept getting distracted by the proffies hair!"

Ugh, I can still hear them...

My nephew summed it up quite well with his post on the Book of Faces:  "Well there goes another $3600."

There, now that I am finished ranting, perhaps a good three months is what I will need in order to be back to my refreshed self in the Fall.  I'm actually much nicer in person!

14 comments:

  1. People who are unprepared for college work are unprepared for many reasons. Sometimes their circumstances are their own fault, and sometimes they just got dealt a shitty hand. Your reference to people who need remedial work as meth heads and crack addicts is unfair and unhelpful, as well as downright mean.

    And what is your nephew doing taking the "remainder of his courses" at the CC? Don't most people do things the other way around, by spending their first two years at a CC and then deciding of they want to go on to a 4-year degree?

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    Replies
    1. Not necessarily. Back in the day, I taught many upper level math classes at the CC. It was a means for saving money. Students would then transfer those classes to their uni.

      So to answer your question about my nephew: he is just trying to save money.

      And you are right about my comments about meth. I will go back and re-edit my post to emphasize that I did not mean to imply that all of them are like this. However, I thought that by listing #1-4, I had made this clear to begin with. You don't have to be a meth head if you just don't want to pay attention.

      Apologies.

      Delete
    2. People who are unprepared for college work are unprepared for many reasons. Sometimes their circumstances are their own fault, and sometimes they just got dealt a shitty hand.

      That doesn't mean that we need to take up all our time teaching them what they should have learned in 4th grade. There are GED schools available. Use 'em.

      Delete
  2. CC's take their philosophy from the Hard Rock Cafe slogan: "Love All, Serve All"

    If a student turns in an application, they get in whether they are "college ready" or not. Everyone can go to college, right? Don't get me started...

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  3. While my local parks and rec department and school system still offer some classes, I fear that, after the budget cuts of recent years, in many places the CC is the only game in town when it comes to trying to get a post-high school education (and in some areas, may even be the place to go to work toward a GED). And while I understand your nephew's desire to save some money, if the CC can only afford to do one thing, then I'd think that offering basic classes which people can't get anywhere else, to people who are further away from getting a better-paying job than your nephew is, probably makes sense. After all, your nephew does have *somewhere* to take those classes; they just cost more than he would like (and perhaps more than they should, but that's probably an issue of how much the state legislature is willing to contribute to the enterprise; the reason state schools are costing more and more is that they're subsidized less and less). The only other choice the folks in need of remediation have might well be a for-profit that delivers mediocre to no education for a high (loan-funded) price.

    I'd still like to see K-12 education strengthened, so CCs don't have to do so much remediation. But I'd argue that making upper-level courses affordable would best be achieved by restoring state funding to state unis.

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    Replies
    1. And after my comment above...

      CC said it better, and made a lot more sense.

      Delete
  4. Until something is done about the parents, I don't think that beating on the high school math teachers is a solution. Our students at low-income-suburb-to-giant-city-HS just don't understand why they should care about school. When they fail the state math test, they are placed in remedial math, required math tutoring during homeroom, and required math tutoring after school. And they still fail.

    Is it REALLY the fault of the high school teachers?!

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    Replies
    1. In a word, watercat, no. And though some of the parents are in a position to help, I'm not entirely sure it's their fault, either, since many aren't, for one reason or another (lack of education and/or English language skills, lack of time to spend with their kids, etc.) Maybe we need to re-fund Head Start, too? That seemed to do some good (not miracles, but something toward giving kids from poorer backgrounds a -- yes -- head start, and helping their parents learn how to teach them, and make better lives for themselves).

      Raising the minimum wage and instituting a system of free early education/childcare, a la France, wouldn't hurt, either.

      Delete
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  6. I must disagree with the statement "If you can't add fractions by the time you graduate high-school then maybe you have no business being in college. Take the problem back to the high-school that supposedly caused it and/or take night classes."

    I'd say that if you can't add fractions by the time you *enter* high school you shouldn't be allowed to get out of elementary school. Note, I said "get out" not "graduate." Graduation from elementary school is another hot button, for another thread.

    I remember parochial school. You were going to learn whether you wanted to or not, and the sooner you learned to want to the easier it would be.
    It helped that this attitude was identical to the one at home.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, the U.S. Navy had a similar one. Some guys joined without knowing how to swim: no problem, they'll teach you---and you will STAY HERE until you learned. It's amazing how quick some could learn, that way.

      Delete
  7. During an all-faculty meeting with our university's president to discuss the dire budget this year, the chair of the math department observed that remediation costs his department plenty, so why not just raise admissions standards so we won't have to do so much of it? The university administrators looked at him as if he'd farted in church. Sorry, the dean of students replied: as a public university we're required by the state to take all comers with high-school GPAs above a certain level, period.

    But then, NCLB was a classic case of how nearly all spare K-12 resources were channeled into the bottom 50th percentile. The "gifted" kids are expected to be smart enough to fend for themselves. What we get therefore is an educational system in which no one is served.

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  8. "My nephew just finished Spring classes at Star-Base 351. He is studying hamster neural-nets and was in hopes of saving some money by taking the remainder of his courses at one of the community colleges, as opposed to shelling out a lump sum at the stated funded university that likes to project the image of a private school.

    No classes were available."

    A cruel person, a very cruel person, might tell that disciple of hamster neuro-netology to just use the Internet. There are probably free classes there.

    ReplyDelete

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