THE SECRET IS OUT. Regular readers of these pages will have noted that in University-speak, "access" is a euphemism for "enrolling unprepared students." Interested Participant has discovered that "Ohio colleges and universities are teaching basic high school courses to the students with the taxpayer picking up the cost," and that University of Cincinnati administrators take pride in doing so. Number 2 Pencil has picked up the story, and asks, correctly,
Why? Why are they being admitted to college if they're not ready? The last I checked, a college degree was not a right. Why should taxpayers, who are apparently already supporting a failing K-12 system, be forced to support a college system that doesn't value college-level work?
Why, indeed? The policy was a mistake in the 1990s, when some members of a curriculum committee I served on saw a virtue in something called "retention" as a way of keeping enrollments up and the bond interest money rolling in, and it makes no sense at all in light of jammed middle schools and rising freshman applications. And the policy, by simply taking the failures of the common schools as given, provides no incentive for the common schools to clean up their act. Perhaps if the principals of some of the common schools -- including "good" schools in prosperous neighborhoods -- discovered that their students were not being admitted to good universities -- heck, to safety valve universities -- account deficiencies in their education, the effects would be salutary. It's not as if I'm advocating executing a couple of admirals here, pour encourager les autres!

A footnote: make sure you read the comments at the Number 2 Pencil post -- you'll learn something about the graduation rate of the most prominent program at Cincinnati, and about the value system of beneficiaries of that program!

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