To the editor:
The proper place for educational remediation is not at the doors of entry into the institution of higher learning. The process must be from the genesis of the educational process. An article on this subject in another area newspaper was right on the mark in many areas.
I see the question as why are there remedial courses if the students have graduated from high school to begin with? If the student lacks the proper knowledge and this is discovered through poor performance on an entrance exam clearly the cure must be initiated at a much earlier stage in the educational process. But this then creates a problem of having to deal with a failing student at a much earlier level. The teacher who fails a student is faced with a myriad of criticism. It comes in the form of an irate parent who cannot understand why their precious child is receiving a failing grade from this vengeful teacher. This is then bucked up the line to the principal and then coming to a resting place at the feet of the school board. A teacher's financial wellbeing is at risk. So, in many cases the poorly performing student is shuffled along and is graduated with a piece of paper that is significant in many cases that the student was present in class for a given number of hours.
Rita Lampus, of Hodges University was also right on target with her analysis of the student's writing skills.
I would add to her comment that reading and comprehension of what is read are also closely related. Think on it for a moment. If a student cannot understand what they are reading, how then can they be expected to perform adjacent skills of writing correctly?
Time was when a student did not or could not perform at the skill level for that grade, the student was left back. Heavens no! Does their teacher want to be so vilified as being the person responsible for labeling this poor student as a failure? Can you see already the irate parent, the finger wagging school administrators already in the wings ready to take the teacher to task?
Students today enter college with minimal skills. Their knowledge of history is also appalling. I used to make it a practice to ask my students various general questions such as having them name five countries involved in World War II. Oddly enough, but not surprising, many students from a foreign country did much better in answering.
We use phrases today such as "intellectually challenged." We would find ourselves ever deeper in trouble were we to ask our students to identify by name five countries in Africa, assuming these students could first locate Africa on a globe. Yes, a globe. To those students educated in our "politically correct" school system, the globe is that funny colored round thing that sat in a corner of the library. Perhaps even the location or purpose of a library would in itself be a challenging question for some students.
This essay will change nothing. This is based upon the realization that too many will look at the situation not as scholars but as tourists, venturing nothing, but merely being observers too frightened by the social minefield that awaits them to offer anything constructive. The America of old is gone. One need only to look at the 1950's to observe what this country was before the final slide to its present state. But it is instructional to muse and to reminisce on what we were. We will never be better. We can only strive to limit how far we stray from our "soul".
Joseph L. Kibitlewski, PhD.