So, Hiram, I've got this kid in my summer section of writing. First year class. He writes the diagnostic and it's barely in English. Every kind of error imaginable, but the overall feel is he's just not familiar with writing in English. In fact as the writing diagnostic was winding down, I said to him, "We need to be out of the classroom by 3 pm," to which he just sort of shrugged and shook his head as if he didn't know what I was saying.
So, I call up the pre-requisite person because I know this kid doesn't belong in the class. Turns out he's taken and passed the two developmental classes we have here. Not only that, he got Bs in both.
I see the kid a couple of days later and show him his diagnostic. He knows it's gibberish. He speaks haltingly in English, but I do understand him. I ask about his developmental classes.
"I try hard and she let me write over and over till correct."
"Do you think you're ready for this class? You know it moves faster than the other ones. Do you have confidence?"
"No confidence," he said, shaking his head. "I think I pass as favor."
He looks sad, but not suicidal. "I should speak English more. My parents don't speak good English and they don't try. We speak our own tongue home."
I've seen students like him enough to know he really just needs immersion in English more than anything else. The swift pace of my summer section, 5 academic essays in 6 weeks will never give him enough drafting and rewriting time.
The kid tells me he'd like to retake at least one of the developmental classes, so that he could continue practicing reading and writing in English. I think it's a great idea. I call up the appropriate people.
"No," one of them says. "He's passed those other classes; he's ready for the next step."
Another one says, "Are you saying that the class he passed did not prepare him?"
"Uh," I said, "Yeah."
"Well, that's a situation your department chair has to deal with."
And it's summer, Hi. I just wanted a smooth $4000 and minimal muss and fuss.
I see the kid and tell him what I've learned. He tells me the registrar's office emailed him the sign up info to get in another class, THE SAME CLASS I'M TEACHING, but a different section, also a 6 week session.
He asks what I think.
I said, "I think you're not ready. You're going to take it and fail and then you'll be out the money. The developmental class is much better suited to what you need, more reading and writing, a slower pace, and an instructor with a background in your needs."
I could tell he was confused about what to do.
A day passed. Another day passed.
Yesterday I get his official drop.
Today, as I'm walking out to the parking lot, a colleague of mine who's teaching the same class as me this summer comes up and says, "Hey, Frankie. I got one of your students transferred over into my section. What's his deal?"
It's a case where the Frankie's student has done the right thing with the college. He's taken the courses they asked him to. He's passed them through some sort of effort. When he discovered that he was overmatched in the "regular" class he even agrees to go back to a developmental class for more help. But the college has failed him by setting him up to fail.
Frankie's student deserves better.