Phi Beta Cons

Shouldn’t We Encourage All Students to Go to College

A recent post of mine on this subject elicited a letter from a teacher who asked that his name and location be kept out — for the obvious reason that he isn’t on board with the education establishment’s happy face views that all students can learn and should go to college. Here is some of what the writer had to say:

80% of my students should be out of school; there is little for them to gain at this point — they don’t work unless “points” are attached to the assignment.  Few will even correct their test questions for partial credit.

1-2 students in every one of my classes are truant each day.  Kids with very low cognitive ability or learning disabilities are coddled with dumbed down tests and assignments suitable for grammar school students.  My mentor teacher has coached me to strip all of the quantitative elements out of the course so that the kids can pass — and many will not.  The only thing I see of value is my insertion of “Economic Literacy” into the curriculum from my experience in consumer finance so at least they have a rudimentary understanding of the subject.

The laughable part is all the time devoted to coaching kids toward college — community college mostly — with seminars on financial aid but no realistic communication of what academic rigor they will encounter (and how woefully unprepared most who intend to go really are).  I have dropped a couple of hints after I have given exams that required perhaps 20 minutes of preparation and most received grades below a C — “if you think this course is difficult you are really in for a shock.”  I am told that 60-70% will matriculate to college, but of course I know that even if that too high figure was correct, less than half will survive a semester and fewer will ever make it to a 4 year program.

The whole thing is such a waste of money — a much better education for most of the students — especially the boys who are getting an extended adolescence on the taxpayer’s dime, would be an 8 hour work day.  The best thing going at this school are 4 vocational school to work programs, but these academies kick out disruptive, chronically truant, or uncooperative students — back to the general population.

The administrators all chant the mantra of the Ed Schools “all of these students CAN learn”  which is probably true, but not if they do not want to and/or their home and/or cultural environment does not value educational achievement or see any connection between it an where they will be in 10 years.  Many of the teachers are really heroic — I admire what they do or try to do.  It’s not for me — I am hoping to get an offer soon from the district where I taught in the fall.  I can’t stand working with kids who will not work and worse, I can’t stomach the lies the teachers and administrators either believe or or forced to accept.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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