Monday, June 15, 2009

Dumbest Generation Getting Dumber

Walter E. Williams : Dumbest Generation Getting Dumber -

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Students come to our community college with sub-par skills in math, reading and writing. Surprisingly (or not), these same students also hold high school diplomas. The solution has been for community colleges to place these students in developmental (remedial) courses to get their skills up to the collegiate level. This creates financial challenges for students as they spend their tuition relearning what they should have learned in elementary and high school. Students come to community colleges wanting to take college courses, spending time developmental courses tends to deflate their desire to remain. My informal observations indicate an inverse relationship to the amount of time spent in remedial classes and retention. It is easy to say that had these students paid attention in high school, they wouldn't need to take remedial courses. If you look at their high school transcripts, you would see the majority of students had "B" and "C" averages.

How bad is it? Students were asked in one of our classes to put their address on an envelope for their end of course certificates. Out of 18 students, barely half knew how to correctly address an envelope. Many students don't know how to write basic sentences or research basic information.

Students are spending more time in elementary and secondary education but from where I work, it appears they are getting further behind. I've written before about the lack of dialog between colleges and K-12 educators. The gap seems to be widening with little options for the students who are behind to catch up. Remedial classes at the community college level are merely a stop-gap and not a long term solution. A high school diploma should mean that a student is ready to begin college.

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