Monday, August 30, 2010

What Happens When Community Colleges Take Away The Helping Hand?

This is one of my favorite statues:

Booker T. Washington lifting the veil of ignorance. For the Black community,
from the moment laws were enacted to prevent us from READING…

EDUCATION has been the key to lifting the Black Community.

It isn't a 'cure all', but it's been one of the most dependable paths to self-improvement that the Black community has known.

I have been in the process of possibly transitioning from one career to another. But, in
order to get into the program that I’m interested in, I have to prerequisites
for those programs. The cheapest way to get those credits where I live is
community college. Going to the local community college has been a positive
experience. You meet all types of people at the community college: races,
ethnicities, age groups, differing goals.

Which is why, when I read this article, I was definitely upset:

Community Colleges Rethink 'Open Door' Admissions as Remedial Costs Rise
By Caralee Adams on August 13, 2010 6:03 AM

Chicago Mayor Richard Daley this week called for an end to the "open
door" admissions policy at Chicago City Colleges, citing concerns about
the cost of remedial courses and a desire to build a quality program.
Every year, the system spends about $30 million for remedial
classes—about 6 percent of its $457.5 million budget. Daley suggested
that a better approach might be to offer programs through alternative
high schools to get students up to speed before they enter college.
Is this a sign of things to come?

Unfortunately, Chicago's approach is not unique, says George Boggs,
president and chief executive officer of the American Association of
Community Colleges. In tight economic times, community colleges are
looking for places to cut back, and some are stopping their most basic
remedial education programs.

"I'm a little concerned about this," Boggs says. "Community college has
always been an open door for college. We have taken everybody."
Students are assessed upon entry and take remedial programs if they
aren't prepared. Boggs doesn't want to see colleges weed out students
who are least able and don't have many other options.

Consider me in the concerned group. The point of Community College to me is that
it is THE place where someone wanting to improve their lot in life – through
education – could go. There is a sizeable group of Community College students
who need these remedial classes in order to be able to GET to the beginning of
where they want to go. These are the students who suffered through inadequate
public schooling that hasn’t been in the business of educating urban Black youth
for about 30 years. So, you send them to crappy public elementary and high
schools, and they are shuffled through, out in the world, unprepared for any
jobs except for the lowest of rungs on the job ladder. Then, these folks decide
to challenge that, and see there is a professional goal that they have, but they
have to be fit to take the classes. These folks are not in remedial classes
because they have nothing else to do- they are in those classes because that is
the FIRST rung to get them on the way of their professional goals.

WHY would you want to cut off that rung for them? City colleges are the cheapest
way for those students to get this educational uplift that they need in order to
be able to compete in this society. It’s not just the classes themselves; for
many students who need these classes, college isn’t something that they grew up
in a household knowing that would just ‘ happen’ for them. It’s something
nebulous that happens to ‘ other’ people. For many, Community College is the
first time that they are in an educational environment where they are surrounded
by people who view education in a positive light. Coming from dangerous urban
high schools, the Community College is quite possibly the first SAFE educational
environment that they’ve experienced. Even though they would be in remedial
classes, it’s still in a college environment, and they would be near other
students. They would see in front of them where they want to go for themselves;
I don’t think positive reinforcement can be underestimated.

This story bothers me, because, if the ‘MISSION’ of the Community College is to
be open for all where the only requirement is the DESIRE for education and the
willingness to work for it, then what is the mission?
This galls me, because Richard Daley and his cronies have done nothing to
improve education for the average Black Public School Student, and the Community
Colleges WERE the place where those students could begin an educational journey.
So now, he’s condemning these students will not get a hand up anywhere. But, as
this article points out, this isn’t just a Chicago problem, this is happening
all over the country, and it is students in Urban areas – BLACK students – who
are getting the shaft.

If you are interested in voicing concern about this possible disastrous change in policy, please drop a letter to the new Chancellor:

Cheryl Hyman
District Office
City Colleges of Chicago
226 W. Jackson
Chicago, Illinois 60606

You also can fill out the ' Ask the Chancellor' at the website.

It was a kick in the teeth to read the new Chancellor’s 'life story’, and realize that she graduated from
a school that where more than likely, the CURRENT students graduating from her alma mater won’t be able to attend Community Colleges without that remedial help?

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