On The Lookout : Starting From Scratch
The dwindling education budget cannot sustain high-school students who arrive unprepared.
Published: Thursday, May 24, 2012
Updated: Thursday, May 24, 2012 02:05
The Los Angeles Board of Education recently voted that high-school students taking college-prep classes must earn grades of D or better to graduate. But letting students enter community college with such poor grades and study skills means shifting funds from required to remedial courses to bring lacking students up to speed. This lax attitude to the rigors of higher education is not an option for California’s under-funded college system.
Before students are able to register for college courses, they are required to take math and English comprehension assessments. The results of the tests determine if students must take any remedial courses before registering for courses that will show up on transcripts and count toward associate’s degree or transfer credit. A whooping 33 percent of Valley College’s student population was engaged in non-credit or remedial courses, according to a 2010 Valley College Council Meeting.
“When you’re in ninth grade, we can predict with high precision whether you are going to be able to transfer from a community college because of how far behind you are going to be when you get to community college,” said UCLA Civil Rights Project Co-director Patricia Gándara in a “Thoughts On Public Education in California” forum.
Even students without the need for remedial courses are struggling to complete their transfer requirements or associate’s degrees in the allocated two-year time frame because of state budget cuts. More funding spent on remedial courses means less spent on everything else: fewer for-credit courses and full-time instructors. Students in remedial courses are effectively taking up funding that would be better spent on more qualified candidates.
A 2010 report by former UC President Richard Atkinson and Saul Geiser of UC Berkeley reveal that due to budget constraints, “the framers of the [university] Master Plan limited eligibility for admission to UC and CSU to the top eighth and top third of the state’s high school graduates, diverting many students to two-year institutions.” This explains why so many less-than-stellar academic high school performances result in the community college remedial course roundabout.
Letting students pass when they should actually fail is not helpful. High school students’ intent should not be to spend their time in community college taking remedial classes to gain a knowledge that should already be there upon graduating high school.
Students who are admitted to community college after spending years passing with a failing grade will be in for a rude awakening. When graduating high school with a grade of D, which in college means failing the requirements, students are not taught the important lesson of effort equals result. Very few students can skip, jump and dance their way through college. It takes time, dedication and hard work. In an educational system that is bursting at the seams with students, but with a budget the size of a pinhole, there is simply no room for those who have displayed a lack of academic potential or prowess to succeed.