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Teabagger Maine Governor LePage plans to file legislation to force high school districts to pay for the remedial college classes for their graduates.  This is his knee-jerk response to the declining state of Maine schools and test scores. Rather than look at what successful states are doing (like Massachusetts), he wants to take the punitive approach and force the rapid depletion of school district budgets in an obvious attempt to use their demise as an excuse to propose widespread privatization of the school system.

The ironic twist is that what he proposes isn't conservative; it's just plain stupid.

Kennebec Journal Report of Maine Gov Proposal

The governor says the reputation of Maine's schools is suffering nationally.

"I don't care where you go in this country – if you come from Maine, you're looked down upon now."
"The parents of this state pay taxes for public education, then they have to pay a second time when their kids enter college," LePage said. "That's inappropriate."
Fifty-four percent of students entering the Maine Community College System need to re-learn basic skills, as do 20 to 25 percent of students at the state's four-year universities,
So in his too-often-dipped teabagged mind, he thinks that forcing the local property tax payers to pay for the remedial college classes for every high school graduate that didn't take their studies seriously is a smart thing to do.

Let's get this straight, high school districts will be FORCED to pay for:
— every stoner who didn't pay attention in English class
— every jock who realized in August that the football scholarship to Penn State
    wasn't going to happen.
— every student who didn't take it seriously in high school and now wants you to
    pay for them to take it seriously now.

And who will pay for these classes? Local school districts are funded largely by property taxes. So my elderly parents who live primarily on social security will have to pay additional property taxes so that some stoner can get a remedial college course because they couldn't focus in physics class.

Of course, there is an alternative.  Like all unfunded mandates, the state will offer no more money to compensate for the mandate and the city will refuse to raise property taxes. Thus the money to educate our children will be siphoned off to pay for remedial classes for stoner-boy.  The result is predictable: more students/class, less learning material, delayed repairs to education infrastructure.

What happened to "Pulling yourself up by your bootstraps" and the "rugged individualism" that republicans brag endlessly about?  What happened to accountability and responsibility?  Why are these students being coddled and treated like college is a T-Ball game (everyone gets a trophy in T-Ball)?  

This monumentally stupid idea needs to be defeated before it can ever get a moment of traction. It would financially destroy school districts.  Considering the stupidity of the proposal, you have to assume that the real intent is to accelerate the disintegration of public schools so the GOP can outsource education to private religious institutions as soon as possible.  Now that's republican...

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Comment Preferences

  •  I know "social promotion" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    kyril, bluedust, BYw, Linda Wood

    has been the gospel for a long time, but it still doesn't set right.  It makes no sense to award high school diplomas to students without basic skills, especially when they are of normal ability.  

    "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

    by lgmcp on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 04:01:03 PM PDT

  •  Penthesilea - if potential freshman (7+ / 0-)

    aren't proficient in English why admit them to college? Don't they have admission standards?

    "let's talk about that"

    by VClib on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 04:14:48 PM PDT

    •  T-Ball has no admission standards! (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, nuclear winter solstice, jacey

      Imagine that, insist on students preparing themselves before attending college.  What a concept!

    •  admission standards? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      VClib, lgmcp

      zilch, it would appear.

    •  Community colleges (7+ / 0-)

      don't have admission standards. That's part of the point of their existence. Students with nontraditional backgrounds or some mistakes in their past can start at a community college and either get qualified in a trade or build up their record to qualify to transfer to a university.

      As for the diarist: What's your solution? These people:

      Let's get this straight, high school districts will be FORCED to pay for:
      — every stoner who didn't pay attention in English class
      — every jock who realized in August that the football scholarship to Penn State
          wasn't going to happen.
      — every student who didn't take it seriously in high school and now wants you to
          pay for them to take it seriously now.
      should not have graduated. But they do graduate, along with a huge population of other kids who just didn't learn because they weren't expected to. That's a problem, and it's not one that the community college system should be burdened with solving.

      You've got Ph.D. mathematicians and literature professors teaching elementary algebra and reading comprehension, not just to immigrants and older adults who are rusty, but to classes filled primarily with 17-year-olds before the ink dries on their high school diplomas. The state and the local community are bearing a huge part of that expense, and that's diverting resources from more advanced classes.

      I've tutored at the community college level, and it's a real problem. It's a lot harder to teach someone who learned wrong the first time. It's really, really hard to teach algebra to a young adult convinced she's 'bad at math'. These students take up disproportionate resources, and that's unfair to everyone. How do we take that burden off the community colleges?

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 06:01:13 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But why should the school districts (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jayden, BYw, lgmcp, VClib

        have to cover the cost? Make those people pay for their own screw-ups.

        Here in California, there are remedial classes offered in community college and in some adult schools -- things like basic math, English, and such. They're treated like regular classes that you have to pay the fees for, but they don't count towards the units required to graduate from college, so after passing those classes you still have to take the required GE courses like Elementary Algebra, English 1A, plus whatever coursework is required for your major.

        It's not just the "stoners" and goof-offs who benefit from the remedial coursework -- there are also the students who may have had to drop out of high school because of family situation, the ones who may have missed a lot of school due to serious illness, and those with learning disabilities who were passed along by teachers who didn't know how to deal with them.

        "If we ever needed to vote we sure do need to vote now" -- Rev. William Barber, NAACP

        by Cali Scribe on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 06:21:15 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I agree with the second part (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ConfusedSkyes, lgmcp, VClib, Linda Wood
          It's not just the "stoners" and goof-offs who benefit from the remedial coursework -- there are also the students who may have had to drop out of high school because of family situation, the ones who may have missed a lot of school due to serious illness, and those with learning disabilities who were passed along by teachers who didn't know how to deal with them.
          That's why the remedial courses exist. It's a big part of why community colleges themselves exist.

          Re: the first part, though,

          Here in California, there are remedial classes offered in community college and in some adult schools -- things like basic math, English, and such. They're treated like regular classes that you have to pay the fees for, but they don't count towards the units required to graduate from college, so after passing those classes you still have to take the required GE courses like Elementary Algebra, English 1A, plus whatever coursework is required for your major.
          I don't think you realize how much of the cost of these courses the state actually covers. Community college tuition covers only a tiny fraction of a student's cost of attendance. It's a few hundred dollars, usually, for a course...sometimes less than that. And a big part of that tab, especially for lower-income students, is picked up by state/federal grants and scholarships.

          It costs a whole lot more than ~$300 to instruct and support a remedial math or English class. You've got a professor with a minimum of a Master's in the subject (and more and more people with doctorates are taking community college positions); you've got a ton of administrative overhead, buildings, libraries, computer labs, all set up for students who need college-level services but available to remedial students; and you've got a veritable army of tutors and other support staff in the math and English departments tasked with getting students through these courses.

          Basically, the state - and in some cases the local government, depending on funding structure - is paying somewhere around 90% of the cost of instructing this material at the college level. For some students, it's 100%. Which is fine, except for three things:

          1) The public already paid for this material to be taught to these students.
          2) This is material that a high school teacher with a bachelor's degree is qualified to teach and that a high school is equipped to support.
          3) These students have a piece of paper issued by their high school saying that they already know this material.

          That's simply not acceptable. Dropouts, immigrants, people with learning disabilities - it makes sense for those populations to be in remedial classes. But 50% of enrolled students? 25% at state schools (which, by the way, are not set up to handle remediation)?

          That's not just the small minority of students who never took or never passed these classes. That's a good 30-40% of the students who took these classes in high school, passed them, in some cases (those who get into the state schools) actually got good or even exceptional grades in them, passed the state tests...on paper these students know the material. High schools are representing to colleges that these students know basic composition and algebra skills. But they don't.

          How do you make the high schools...well, basically, stop lying? I know that sounds accusatory...frankly, I am accusing.

          I don't think defunding/financial penalty is the best approach, because I don't think further draining public school resources is going to help anything. But I challenge those who are scandalized by this to come up with a solution.

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 07:49:37 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  The bright side is that adult learners (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            VClib, kyril

            in community college, are there under their own steam.  Any instructor knows that a room full of self-motivated students make all the difference in the world.  

            "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

            by lgmcp on Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 09:05:09 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Agreed. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, spacecadet1, lgmcp, VClib

        I think the real problem is LePage hasn't:
        - Offered a plan to prevent this from occurring in the future.
        - Hasn't allocated new revenue to offset this.

        The basic conceit of "remedial classes," is actually a fine and dandy one.

      •  How about funding public schools properly and (7+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril, denise b, jayden, BYw, spacecadet1, lgmcp, VClib

        having proper teachers actually TEACH the kids.  No more 'social' promoting after 5th grade.  Have 'free' tutors in the public school system.

      •  Wow (0+ / 0-)

        What Community College has PhD's? Not the one I attended.

        Many of them are working on their PhD's. One English Prof I know got his PhD the same year I got my Associate's. Lo and behold, when I moved to the local State U to get my bachelor's, guess who I encountered there? The same English prof. He got his PhD, so got out of the Community College.

        I know one prof I had with a PhD. The rest have Master's degrees. Which is the same degree, by the way, that you need to teach High School (after 5 years) in this state.

        "Maybe: it's a vicious little word that could slay me"--Sara Bareilles

        by ChurchofBruce on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 09:25:53 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  We had quite a few (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          BYw, lgmcp, VClib, Linda Wood

          Just scanning the employee directory, about 1/3 of the permanent faculty at my community college are listed as "Dr. X", which meshes pretty well with my memory. And I remember a lot of the new hires and part-timers had doctorates.

          The job market out there for Ph.Ds is pretty awful right now, and since they're 'overqualified' for everything outside of research and academia, the ones who give up on the post-doc hamster wheel have been taking refuge in 2-year schools.

          And a lot of working scientists teach community college on the side. My dad's one of them. He got his doctorate with the idea of teaching at the college level, but he graduated at the wrong time and ended up in a government job. That pretty much spelled the end of his career in academia, so he gets his teaching fix at the community college level teaching intro astronomy and geology.

          "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

          by kyril on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 09:53:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I can see the job thing (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            kyril

            I can also see getting off the hamster wheel--but that's probably why my newly-minted PhD English prof came to my State U: it's not a "research institution" so the profs actually teach, not run the wheel :).

            There really were very few at my CC, though. And the one I knew that was a PhD had taught for years and years, but nowadays teaches as kind of a hobby in between running his winery :)

            "Maybe: it's a vicious little word that could slay me"--Sara Bareilles

            by ChurchofBruce on Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 02:58:06 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Considering there are PhDs (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          VClib, kyril

          driving taxis, delivering pizza, and running daycares, it's not too surprising we'd find some teaching community college.   A lot of folks who get advanced degrees only to find they're just don't want to compete like crazy for a publish-or-perish job on the other side of the country.

          "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

          by lgmcp on Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 09:03:53 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

    •  Commuinity colleges take everyone. n.t (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril

      "bin Laden's dead, and GM is alive" ~ Biden

      by dkmich on Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 03:44:39 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Leave this to the Maine Kossacks. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mike Kahlow, jacey

    Please.

    My last fortune cookie was a The Nephew sockpuppet. equalitymaine.org

    by commonmass on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 04:32:33 PM PDT

  •  How about free tutition for those who can handle (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    catwho, skohayes, lgmcp

    college level course-work or a pro-rated tuition reimbursement based on ACT/SAT scores initially then college GPA.

    Robber Baron "ReTHUGisms": John D. Rockefeller -"The way to make money is to buy when blood is running in the streets"; Jay Gould -"I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half."

    by ranton on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 05:03:29 PM PDT

    •  Reward those deserving! (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ranton, lgmcp

      Imagine that: reward those that work hard rather than those that don't.

      That is why this proposal is so stupid it has to be a means to another end.  This must be a red herring to bankrupt the public school system.

      •  To some degree that already exists (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril

        My state's "lottery scholarship" is structured to entice local high-school grads to start college promptly and stay in it continuously.   If they do, and maintain a B average, ALL their tution is covered -- not that books, living expenses, and lost earnings don't take a serious committment in and of themselves.  

        "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

        by lgmcp on Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 09:07:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  republicans never change (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jacey

    christie whitman talked about this in NJ. at the time I said the colleges should refund any tuition to any student who fails the remedial course. current thinking is to get rid of the remedial courses altogether; they rarely do any good and only serve to take money from kids who receive no credit for them. the kids are better off without them. i predict this will go nowhere, just like whitman's idea. is there no end to the stupid shit repugs can come up with?

    •  Meanwhile for-profit colleges (0+ / 0-)

      face NO such penalties, and routinley award all A's to every student whose money is green, in some cases even where they barely show up.  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 09:08:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  ... (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Linda Wood
      current thinking is to get rid of the remedial courses altogether; they rarely do any good and only serve to take money from kids who receive no credit for them. the kids are better off without them.
      Do you have any idea what you're talking about?

      My college's math department did an exit survey of my multivariable calculus class. Roughly 1/3 (9 out of 24) of the students started out in elementary or intermediate algebra. Those are remedial courses. Two years after taking the remedial algebra sequence, they'd completed a math course that transfers to our state universities for 300-level credit. They were on track to transfer as juniors into STEM degree programs.

      Then there were the people I tutored. One of them was a Congolese refugee who came here in her mid-30s. She barely knew how to read when she got here. But she got through the Adult Basic Education program (pre-remedial classes), then started on the remedial algebra. That's where I met her. Straight 'A' student all the way through algebra, precalculus, Calc 1. As I was leaving, she was in Calc 2 and working in the tutoring center herself while she finished up her computer science transfer degree.

      I can't think of any educational program that's ever impressed me much as community college remedial math. The students who came out of that sequence were better-prepared than anyone coming out of high school. Even AP Calc kids like me. (Granted, I was a little rusty, but still.)

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 08:45:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes, i have 25 years in education (0+ / 0-)

        get rid of the courses. period. in my local county college the bilingual students successfully lobbied to get out of the remedial requirements. No one missed them. College remedial courses are bullshit. the current thinking is  to get rid of them. I don'tmind them being voluntary, but forcing students to take remedial classes for no credit has proven unsuccessful. A new idea is to grant actual credit for prep-type classes. You simply must understand that the vast majority of remedial students in writing who want to be in technical fields were being systematically kept from taking for credit classes of any kind until they passed remedial writing, when there were only TWO writing courses required for their majors. in some colleges only one. these are students who could pass calc and chemistry, butnot the fucking writing entrance test. Funny thing is, they were able to pass expo 101 when given the chance to skip the remedial class. Finally, virtually all of the remedial classes were taught at night by...moonlighting high school teachers. What a fucking scam.

  •  And....? (0+ / 0-)

    I'm not sure I see a problem here.

    as I've been saying here for years, the only penalty people pay attention to are financial ones

    "A civilization which does not provide young people with a way to earn a living is pretty poor". Eleanor Roosevelt

    by Superpole on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 07:40:56 PM PDT

    •  Ugh (0+ / 0-)

      This is going to make the "failing" schools better, how?  Not only has thes school fucked up, but now it's bankrupt, so send your kids to private school?  

      "The extinction of the human race will come from its inability to EMOTIONALLY comprehend the exponential function." -- Edward Teller

      by lgmcp on Fri Jul 27, 2012 at 09:10:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Actually... (5+ / 0-)

    I rather like the basic idea of this, except that it should be the state which is responsible, not the district, because, when it comes down to it, it's the State's responsibility to ensure that students are properly educated, IIRC.  There's also the fact that school districts with significant numbers of underperformers are practically always vastly underfunded; this provides a stick to beat the state into being more progressive.  

    — every stoner who didn't pay attention in English class
    — every jock who realized in August that the football scholarship to Penn State
        wasn't going to happen.
    — every student who didn't take it seriously in high school and now wants you to
        pay for them to take it seriously now.
    Well, someone should.  After all, these people graduated high school -- and according to the graduation requirements they should meet minimum standards.  Why were they so disconnected from their schooling in the first place?  I place a decent amount of that blame on current teaching methods and curriculae; if you can't interest someone in something, why should they apply themselves to study it?

    FWIW, in my high school, the stoners tended to be the intelligent-tests-well-but-doesn't-do-their-homework type, and the jocks on the football team weren't cut much slack.  I think you should rethink your stereotypes, and re-ask your question.  Consider:

    -- The kid from a broken home who hangs out with his friends until midnight, after school, just so that he can go home after everyone's asleep.
    -- The poor depricated-because-of-his-skin-color-and-or-accent kid from the ghetto/projects/wrong side of the tracks whose parents don't have the education or funds to do much in the way of extracurricular learning activities, even if they're aware of why those are important.
    -- The kid who lives in a station wagon with his mother because they got forclosed on after the divorce, and who's usually too tired and hungry to pay attention.
    -- The kid who realizes that his realistic future is to get some shit low-level job and work it for the rest of his life, or go to college and work slightly less shitty jobs for the rest of his life, while in enough debt that he could have bought a house somewhere.
    -- The kid who consistantly does his homework in a subject, but just never quite gets it, and is passed because his teachers feel that he's trying hard enough to deserve it.

    Some kids fail because they don't give a shit, but even in those cases, you should be looking at why they don't give a shit.  In most cases, I think that consistent academic failure generally results from being discouraged from trying, rather than not caring.

    •  Actually... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ConfusedSkyes, BYw, lgmcp, Linda Wood

      the ones I saw (of the fresh high school grads) when I was tutoring for remedial math classes were simply perfectly ordinary middle-to-working-class kids with no identifiable learning disabilities and ordinary-to-good high school records with mostly B's and C's in math.

      They just somehow passed Algebra 1 and 2 in high school without anyone ever noticing that they didn't understand fractions. So they came out of high school with a bunch of memorized 'tricks' like "cross-multiplication" and absolutely no idea how they worked or where to apply them. That showed up on the placement tests. Why it didn't show up on the state-administered skills tests, I have no idea. But it made it seriously hard to help them; they had so much to un-learn.

      Now, we did also get the students who grew up very poor, took a non-college-preparatory high school curriculum, or dropped out or gave up. But we tended to get them much older, after they'd spent some time working dead-end low-wage jobs or served in the military or raised a couple of kids to school age. These were typically an absolute joy to work with; they knew what they didn't know and they knew why they wanted to learn it. They're the students the community college remedial programs were made for.

      "Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines." - Sgt. Maj Michael Barrett on DADT repeal

      by kyril on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 09:39:14 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  About 20-25 years ago (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jayden, kyril, BYw, spacecadet1, lgmcp, Linda Wood

    in Alberta, Canada, the university of Alberta was distressed at the
    large numbers of 1st yr. students who couldn't keep up with the writing requirements of many of their courses.  They implemented an entrance test in english composition, grammar and punctuation and those who failed were required to take a remedial course provided by the university. This gave the elementary and high school system in the province enough time to re-vamp their teaching standard and within a few years the test  was dropped because it was no longer needed.

    •  That sounds like a logical solution. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kyril, spacecadet1, lgmcp

      Therefore, it is unAmerican and will never happen here.


      Not this mind and not this heart, I won't rot • Mumford & Sons

      by jayden on Thu Jul 26, 2012 at 10:50:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  But it HAS been done here! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kyril

        That's the point of this discussion. Colleges and universities throughout this country have been providing remedial courses for incoming freshmen to increasing numbers of students, and the public schools have NOT responded in the way the Alberta schools did. This trend has beed worsening for decades.

        http://www.mercurynews.com/...

        Cal State campuses overwhelmed by remedial needs...

        The remedial numbers are staggering, given that the Cal State system admits only freshmen who graduated in the top one-third of their high-school class. About 27,300 freshmen in the 2010 entering class of about 42,700 needed remedial work in math, English or both...

        The remedial problem is hardly confined to California...

        Remedial needs at California State University
        New freshmen in the 23-campus system, fall 2010: 42,738
        New freshmen who needed remedial help, fall 2010: 27,298
        Percentage of fall 2011 freshmen taking remedial math, Cal State East Bay: 73 percent
        Percentage of fall 2011 freshmen taking remedial English, Cal State East Bay: 58 percent
        Percentage of fall 2011 freshmen taking both subjects, Cal State East Bay: 46 percent
        Sources: California State University; Sally Murphy, Cal State East Bay

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