‘Do the math’ before college

On Community College Spotlight: To prevent the need for remedial classes, two Tennessee community colleges will work with high schools to prepare 12th graders for college-level math. See ‘Do the math’ before college.

Does remedial education belong in college? Listen to the debate.

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  1. I was looking forward to hearing that debate, but was thoroughly disappointed.

    They picked a lousy example of a remedial student, because they picked a foreign student, not one who had gone through substandard US education, which is the whole point of the discussion. From the LaGuardia president, moreover, I was expecting to hear more than simply happy platitudes.

    On the one hand, the kids taking remedial classes are out of high school and can’t be sent back. You have to deal with them. Cutting them off after they’re passed out of high school only punishes them for someone else’s mistakes.

    On the other hand, what the mischievous part of me would love to see, however, is some sort of meeting of colleges to set standards for what constitutes college ready. I would love to see them sending certain districts official notification that, due to the fraud which is apparent in the discrepancy between their graduates’ grades and knowledge level, the colleges of that consortium will no longer accept a diploma from them as legitimate. Of course, while I’m at it, I’d like world peace and a pony.

    On the gripping hand, the biggest problem I saw was that the discussion only referenced problems in high school. Yes, it is a problem that grades are much higher than warranted. Teachers, however, face much more scrutiny about their given grades than actual learning. Anyone who actually tried to take a stand and give students the grades they deserved would be the recipient of a hellstorm. No matter how powerful the union protecting you is, your principal is subject to pressure from downtown, and they can make your life a living hades.

    More importantly, however, it is clear that the problems start well before then. I hate to sound like a broken record, but if students don’t learn the basics of reading and mathematics, the rest is academic. At the risk of flogging the Titanic metaphor to death, until the iceberg of lousy curriculum is dealt with, the best we can do as teachers is look for lifejackets.