The CCC administration has pounded long and hard on the issue of remedial education. We have reported on how Chancellor Hyman, not long after taking over the reigns of the CCC, blurted out during August 2010 that the she wanted to severely curtail remedial education— and that the strong rejection of these plans by the faculty, because it would end one century of open enrollment at the CCC, compelled her and her crew to publicly back off, at least for a while.
They came up with a different formulation: that they were going to study the issue, that it was going to be submitted to the famous Task Forces for research and recommendations. On the meantime they have continued their agenda of promoting this remedial education cutback behind the scenes. Furthermore, they had the editorial board of the Chicago Tribune endorsing this cutback.
Unfortunately this has had an effect even on sectors of the faculty who have begun to doubt the historical mission of the CCC and the responsibility that we all have toward all students that are rejected by the rest of higher education because the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) failed them, or because they are immigrants, etc.
Recently, on March 2011, a faculty member circulated a link to a New York Times article about remedial education (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/04/nyregion/04remedial.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1&src=ISMR_HP_LO_MST_FB). The faculty member quoted from the article and added some comments:
“The article states, “A recent nationwide study that followed community college freshmen over six years found that only 35 percent earned any sort of degree.” As instructors and advisers, how should we address statistics such as these with our students? How do we encourage students to continue pursuing their goals while still being realistic with them about their chances of success?”
This is very ominous. This sounds like an argument for convincing students that they should give up, but that we should tell it to them softly. This is preposterous.
- These students have their significant delays in math and reading/writing because the City and CPS failed them. It is the responsibility of the City to make them full. The City must develop a structure to fully support these students, at the City’s cost (currently pre-credit students have to pay for their pre-credit courses because financial aid does not cover it), not only by assuming the total cost of the remedial education, but also by offering additional resources to these students in the form of financial aid, childcare aid, etc. (i.e., social services) that will ease their burden and give them a better chance of overcoming their academic deficiencies. It is at this point that these students will be better equipped and more self-confident to take on a college-level academic load. But the administration agenda is geared to either convincing the students to quit, even before they start, or to discard them early in the process. That is why the Chicago Tribune, the major business paper in town, loves it.
- Going along with the first and foremost goal of the Reinvention (degrees and programs of “economic value”) any student that after so many years has not concluded a degree, even if they have approved a series of college courses, is a failure and they have gained nothing of value. This is dead wrong, on only acquires meaning (very grotesque) under the business-model criterion of “economic value.” Recently, an officer of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP), and an emeritus and still active professor at a Research-1 university, while in town, expounded on this issue. To paraphrase him/her: to look at a student and say that after so many years she/he has not finished a degree and conclude that this student has gained nothing is a one-sided mistake; this student has certainly benefited personally from the number of courses taken and has grown intellectually and socially. We cannot negate this added value to this person’s life; the issue cannot be resolved only in economic terms.