Character = behavior

Character = behavior, writes Sioban Curious. In teaching her students about characterization, she also taught them what classroom behaviors will make it possible for her to write a favorable reference letter and what behaviors will not.

Also on Community College Spotlight“Pablo” never attended school until he enrolled in community college, writes his developmental English instructor on The Two-Year Track, a new community college blog. If Pablo can learn to read and write in English, he can train as an air-conditioning repairman.

About Joanne


  1. Why are we spending federal funds on a kid who has never been to high school? That’s what adult ed is for, not community college.

  2. Where does it say federal funds are paying for Pablo? BTW, he’s 40 years old with three daughters. “Kid” doesn’t really describe him.

  3. Federal funds are paying for Pablo, unless community colleges get no federal money.

    But never mind that–why is Pablo allowed to go to college in the first place? If he can’t read or speak English, then he should be in adult ed.

  4. Cardinal Fang says:

    When writing a reference letter, Siobhan Curious says, she doesn’t care about the student’s grades. She only cares whether the student is polite and tries hard.

    Hmm. When reading a reference letter, I would certainly like to know if the applicant is well-behaved, but I’d also like to know if he can do the job. I don’t want rude employees, but I also don’t want well-intentioned incompetents.

  5. Genevieve says:

    Cal, in our area, adult basic ed is offered through the community college. ESL classes are also offered through the comunnity college. With the exception of a private college that has a non-profit literacy center, the community college is the primary (and perhaps only) provider of all adult education.

  6. Cardinal Fang says:

    Should remedial education and ESL education be offered at community college? Commenters keep saying that remedial students, and students who don’t speak English, should go to adult education classes instead.

    What would be the advantages of that? Are adult education classes cheaper to offer? Do teachers of adult education have special skills in remediation or teaching ESL that community college professors lack? Do adult education proponents think that taxpayers should subsidize community college, but not adult education, so that adult education is not a drain on public budgets?

    If adult education should not be taxpayer-subsidized, does that mean adults who attended American secondary schools, but didn’t learn, are now out of luck if they can’t pay for classes, as many cannot, and foreigners who come here however legally shouldn’t learn English at taxpayer expense?

  7. Adult ed is run by the k-12 system and that system needs to be answerable for graduating kids who don’t have HS-grad level skills. I put kids who have diplomas in a different basket from those who don’t; if the system that gave kids the diploma without the expected knowledge and skills, that system should cover the adult ed costs of remediation. (without additional taxpayer funding). The system perpetrated a fraud and should pay for it. Those kids who dropped out have had their taxpayer subsidies and should either pay for their own classes or use private grants. If they are motivated enough to use their own money, they’ll be motivated enough to work hard. As for ESL, immigrants have been taught English by their churches and community groups for generations, at no public expense, and I see no reason why that cannot continue. I particularly oppose taxpayer money being used for any kind of adult ed for illegal immigrants.

  8. I see all sides to this….education needs more funding and its terrible that they seem to cut edu funds first…..we need to trim down the $$$$ going to the district folk downtown.

  9. Cardinal Fang says:

    ” if the system that gave kids the diploma without the expected knowledge and skills, that system should cover the adult ed costs of remediation. (without additional taxpayer funding).”

    While I agree that high schools shouldn’t grant phony diplomas, when a student with a diploma needs remediation, that remediation is going to cost money. Teachers of remedial education, whether in community college or in an adult education program, don’t work for free. If we take the remedial students out of community college and put them in adult ed, adult ed is going to incur costs. Where is that money going to come from? Complaining that the schools should have educated the students better the first time (however justified the complaint) doesn’t pay the salary of the new teachers who will have to be hired.

  10. Where is that money going to come from?

    Who knows? If there isn’t enough money, then there won’t be as much adult ed. That’s the point. It should not be part of the college education process.

  11. The ed system does not need or deserve more money; we have poured floods of money at it for the past 40 years with little to show for it. Eliminate the federal Department of Education, which was a Carter payback for union support, and all of its associated paperwork; it hasn’t helped anything. Prune spec ed (and its paperwork) to the point that its focus is on the trainable and educable, not the provision of babysitting for kids cognitively, physically and/or emotionally unsuited to academic placements. (their needs should be addressed by HHS) Make drastic cuts to the bureaucratic fiefdoms and direct resources to the classrooms.

  12. My district just eliminated Adult Ed as a budget cut. (and laid off every counselor in the district…but kept sports)

  13. Cardinal Fang says:

    OK, so Cal and momof4, your actual position appears to be that students who need remedial education should just be out of luck. Too bad for them if they didn’t study or if they went to terrible schools that taught nothing?

  14. Not out of luck, but subject to an entirely different funding pool–lower priority and less generous. Better yet, not subsidized much at all, and no loans.

  15. Ah, so Cal wants the nature-red-in-tooth-and-claw model of “civilization.” Good to know.

  16. Richard Aubrey says:

    Interesting to note that Fang and Mike misrepresented what Momof4 and Cal said.
    There are better ways to address an issue…if you have a clue.

  17. While I agree that the curriculum and instruction issues in school contribute to the problem of kids needing remediation after graduation, individual student behaviors and community norms/values are a huge component. Schools that tolerate disrespectful behaviors (not uncommonly including criminal behaviors like assault) are part of the problem, as are communities that do not support appropriate disciplinary action by teachers and admins. The same goes for communities that elevate popular and /or gang culture over academic effort and success. Those same school systems are likely to be awash in funding and to be incompetent and/or full of waste, fraud and abuse; schools are seen as a jobs program for the adults.(see DCPS) Kids and communities need to be told, on a frequent and regular basis, starting in kindergarten that the gravy train is OVER; this is the one and only chance to get an education at public expense. We’ve be subsidizing irresponsible behaviors since the 60s and it has led to more of the same; the culture of entitlement, devoid of effort.

  18. I meant to say this at first; kids should be instructed on proper school behavior, habits and language and the use of same should be enforced. Particularly in schools where parents are incapable, uninterested or unaware of such standards, the kids (and parents) need to learn at school those things that middle/upper-middle class kids learn at home because they are part and parcel of upward mobility. In high schools, community colleges (per the original quote) and universitites, kids should also be told that there are certain expectations (academic and behavioral) that must be met in order to receive a good recommendation. Again, it’s the toxic culture of entitlement.

  19. momof4: could you please waive your magic wand and fix all this? There’s nothing at all inaccurate with your diagnoses of the dysfunctions in the system, but I don’t see a lot o day-to-day how to get dones among all the competing demands and conflicting goals of education. There’s not one thing you proclaim we should do that wouldn’t result in a huge law suit. How do you differentiate between th kid who dropped out because he was a jerk and the one who dropped out because the system wasn’t meeting his needs? If some kids graduate with adequate skills (4? 8? 150?) is that proof the system did its job?

  20. Fang and Mike:

    The more you subsidize failure, the more failure you get.

  21. One of the biggest problems in education today is also one of its best attributes….the fact that it is free. People do not value what is given to them for free.

    I challenge you to go to an average American school immediately after breakfast and lunch. Not only will the waste sicken you……the litter is revolting. Guess what? Most of them are getting the food for free.

  22. “If Pablo can learn to read and write in English, he can train as an air-conditioning repairman.” LOL