Readers Have Educated Opinions about School Reform

But that's what we'd expect at ColorLines.

By Channing Kennedy Oct 16, 2010

Education politics debates are often less Rashomon than they are Inception–before you can figure out who you agree with, you have to figure out who’s saying it, and from inside whose brain. I’m eternally grateful for my colleague Julianne Ong Hing, our beat reporter on education, for translating the debate into a human language as she reports on it.

Don’t forget to join us here in the comments, as well as on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and YouTube, the latter of which has a whole mess of full-session videos from Facing Race 2010.

Ruthie O chimes in to Julianne’s report on for-profit schools trying to give community colleges a bad name

This is such bullshit. I teach part-time at my local community college, and many of my adjunct colleagues also work at the local for-profit university. They call it their "whore job," and have often told me that they are required to pass underperforming students. Teachers are often fired from this for-profit university for not passing students; that is why the only reason they have higher graduation rates. Since it is a for-profit university, it is run like a business: the students are the customers, and their satisfaction is more important than achievement or learning. I’d be interested to see a study that compared study skills, communication skills, and workplace knowledge between the two, instead of just graduation rates. 

Oh, and they are touting their outreach to under-privileged communities? Please. How can thousands and thousands of debt for a degree that often isn’t respected in the workplace help high-risk, underprepared students? They take advantage of working class students by walking them through the loan application process, and benefiting from their debt. Compare that to my university where it costs $26 per unit, and most students are covered by financial aid. So there.

And copdoc adds that for-profits aren’t giving students or teachers a fair shake:

I teach FT for a CC and PT for a for-profit 4-year (I have 3 graduate degrees). I am pressured to pass underperforming students by the for-profit. These students should never have been admitted to a 4-year institution. The CC only asks that I do whatever I can to help my students, but if they fail, they accept my decision. I have a feeling I’m about to join the "fired from for-profit" for refusing to pass the underperformers.

Meanwhile, on Julianne’s piece about Oprah’s education ‘infomercial,’ acates99 responds to another commenter to call out the unqualified language that shapes the debate:

All those children who didn’t eat breakfast, who didn’t sleep well, who are depressed, who can’t concentrate, who are emotionally disturbed, who have learning disabilities, who are foster home kids, who are scared because they’re bullied, who need nurturing because they don’t get it from home, who are physically sick, who are sad, who are ADHD, who need attention, who have image problems, who who bully others, who have parents who lost their jobs, who had someone close to them die – are these the "bad" kids? Because if they are, then I guess public schools are about teaching bad kids and all of the "good" kids go to non-public or charter schools. How pathetic is that? 

By the way, there is not one child who does not experience at least one of the situations above, and yet they must still learn from a teacher who must deal with those issues constantly. Public schools deal with these issues far more often than nonpublic schools. So how about more support from the community in dealing with the whole child? 

If families need help, they should be able to get it. Why separate those haves from the have-nots? This is typically American, and Americans justify it because they believe those with hard luck should just deal with it and get over it. Well, still, hard-luck kids must be educated, and there’s a lot of them.