Monday, October 6, 2014

The Criminality of Community College, Part 2





By Professor Doom

     Last time around, I discussed that the Federal student loan scam program only allows for funds to be spent on college coursework, or, at absolute worst, on remedial coursework no lower than the 9th grade. All community colleges regularly sell coursework below that level, in straight up violation of the law…as anyone, anyone, anyone who looks at online course offerings can tell.

     A new book, Community Colleges and the Access Effect, details the “amazing news” that all community colleges violate the law, and comes up with the solutions I’ve proposed a few times, albeit missing an important detail. Their solutions are that some sort of entrance examinations really need to return to colleges, and that schools need to return to operating with integrity. While these are decent fixes, they don’t identify the cause of the problem, and missed the important detail of administration’s role in this. The book, alas, lays the blame on “open admission” practices. 

     “Open admission” by itself isn’t a problem—as long as standards are kept, I see no problem giving anyone willing to work the opportunity to push for more. Unfortunately, the student loan scam gives “students” the chance to use higher education as a source of funds, and, since administration gets first dibs on the checks, the student loan scheme combines with easily corrupted administration to create the problem we have today.

Admin: “We need to have less students in the remedial math class. So we’re going to lower the exam score to get into college algebra.”
Me: “Those entrance scores are set by the company that makes the test. They have years of experience with tens of thousands of students, and know what they’re doing. Lowering the scores sets up students to fail, and we shouldn’t do that.”
Admin: “We’re lowering the scores.”

--how anyone can think entrance exams can change anything in this environment is beyond me. The proper usage, incidentally, is “fewer” not “less”, but long experience has told me how stupid it is trying to keep administrators from embarrassing themselves.


      Entrance exams alone won’t fix this problem—administration has such an absolute stranglehold that any entrance exams will be reduced to something passable by anything with opposable thumbs in short order. Higher education must return to the “old days” when administrators came from, and returned to, faculty. As long as administrators have no role in or understanding of education, higher education has no chance but to become ever more corrupt and useless.

      Despite the flaws in thinking, the authors have some things to say. Allow me to address some quotes from an interview:

     A lot of people will be shocked by the book's assertion that community colleges regularly admit students who operate at an elementary-school academic level. How did you reach this conclusion? 

This will only be shocking to people who do not work in an open-access community college.
 

    This isn’t shocking to regular readers of my blog, either. That said, just how many people have to know that most all community colleges are scamming, that they violate the law, before we start to eliminate these “public” institutions of private plunder? I do admit that community colleges do some good, on the same level as a crackhouse that looks after the small children of its addict customers…but community colleges quite obviously do more harm than good. 

     Another question and answer from the article:

Are community colleges inappropriately allowing or encouraging millions of students to take out student loans for remedial courses?

No, it's not millions of students. The number is effectively unknown.
 

---“Effectively unknown” is disingenuous, as the exact numbers of most things are effectively unknown. On the other hand, “not millions of students” is flat out wrong.

     Let’s do the math here to show that “millions of students” is fair to say.


     I don’t have an exact number, of course, but let’s say 9,000,000. It is almost certainly more, since my links are a little dated.


     Hmm, more than half of 9,000,000…how does this not translate into the millions?

While some of remedial work is at the ninth grade level, most is below that level, as I’ve shown, many times, in earlier posts. Even if you call it 9th grade, that still means these students are four years away from college level work…realistically, it isn’t going to happen even if the loan money lasts that long (it doesn’t), although the debts the students incur are real, and the fat salaries that administrators get for screwing these people are very real.

     I’ve said it many times before, but I may as well toss in one more fact:

     Let’s summarize: community colleges break the law by offering coursework suitable for a small child in a typical public school (and, let’s face it, the public schools have no reputation for offering challenging coursework). Breaking the law isn’t per se bad in our currently insane American system of laws, but putting people into a system of perpetual debt, and wasting years of their lives, for basically nothing IS bad. 

Community college administrators say they’re helping people pursue higher education, but they’re lying, and they know they’re lying…that’s bad too.

     Above, I’ve only talked about the math courses that are taught at the sub-9th grade level. It is unarguable that these math courses are sub-9th grade, since the content of these math courses is identical to mathematical material taught in the public schools.

     What’s going on in community college is much worse than that. Community colleges offer a host of marginal courses, containing minimal work that any child can do. Heck, to call the work “minimal” is an exaggeration.


Registrar, at a policy change meeting: “Due to a glitch, a number of students in various courses were enrolled in courses accidentally. They didn’t know they were in the course, so never showed up for class or did assignments, and didn’t know what was going on until they received their report card. We need to change the policy to allow students to drop late, for this reason.”

Me: “Of these students that did absolutely nothing, about how many failed?”

Registrar: “2/3rds failed. The rest got A’s, but complained because it cut into their loan disbursements.”

Me: “To be clear, 1/3 of the students that literally did absolutely nothing still got an A for their coursework?”

Registrar: “Yes.”

--I repeat this story, as it’s eyewitness testimony of clear evidence that around 1/3 of the coursework on that campus was utterly and completely bogus. Yes, I know, I could just as easily cite a book saying as much.


     Because administrators punish teachers that put content in their courses, many college courses have no actual requirements, no reading, no writing, no anything. Do I really need to enroll a 6 year old in such a course, and have that child pass, to demonstrate that the course isn’t at the 9th grade level? There’s a reason why studies have found what goes on in community college is unhinged from the coursework they say they’re doing.

     Study after study, book after book, report after report…even a casual look reveals massive festering fraud and corruption at community colleges, we don’t need a TV show to know community colleges are, all too often, a complete joke. A joke is one thing, but community college is also a lawbreaking fraud that’s sucking massive amounts of taxpayer dollars.
 
     How long until people realize the scam here? People complain when crack houses stay operational for months, but there are community colleges, scoffing the law every bit as much as a crack house, that have stayed in operation for ten years or more. What will it take to get these places boarded up?