Friday, September 01, 2006

As we embark on another school year...

In his peripatetic academic career, Fosco has taught at a range of academic institutions--from top liberal arts institutions to local commuter colleges. Consequently, he feels he has a pretty good grasp of the variance between the top and bottom tiers of college students. Even so, he was floored by this New York Times article. One of the most upsetting revelations was this:

California State set an ambitious goal to cut the proportion of unprepared freshmen to 10 percent by 2007, largely by testing them as high school juniors and having them make up for deficiencies in the 12th grade.

Cal State appears nowhere close to its goal. In reading alone, nearly half the high school juniors appear unprepared for college-level work.

Half of high school juniors are unprepared for college-level work? What in the name of Mavis Beacon is going on in high school? Is it now just a big four-year orgy?

Now, Fosco doesn't want to be a bad liberal or an elitist or anything, but is it possible that too many people are going to college? Of course, Fosco is in favor of everyone learning the necessary math and reading skills to negotiate everyday life. But what if that could be done in one or two-year trade schools? If we stopped requiring a bachelor's degree for entry-level employment, maybe our colleges wouldn't be overstuffed with unprepared students.

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