Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It’s Official: High School is now 2nd year of College

By Professor Doom

So last time I was looking at a third community college, in Los Angeles, to see if maybe the fraud I’d seen at community colleges in New York and Louisiana was in California as well.

Instead of seeing things were as bad as in the first two states, I see it’s worse.

 At LACC, they’re selling high school material as 2nd year college work. This is nuts. Any accreditor that bothered to even look at the course offerings could see this. Oh right, accreditation is bogus and has nothing to do with education.

Let’s continue to review the course offerings:

Statistics  (227). It’s hard to tell from the description if this is really college material. I strongly suspect, however, that this is a very weak course—students in this course don’t need to have passed high school algebra to take this course. A reasonable person would wonder how this college math course doesn’t require high school math. Since everything in this course I learned in high school after I took high school algebra (and I didn’t take any AP math courses), I’m going to not call this college, but opinions can vary on this one course. 16 sections.

Mathematics for the Liberal Arts Students (230). The title alone tells you what kind of course this is, and the course description lets anyone know that it’s a very simple course well below high school. 2 sections.

Calculus for the Business and Social Sciences (236). It’s funny, this used to be the freshman math class for incoming, very weak, college students, and now it’s a 200 level (i.e., second year) course. Very curious, and many students that took calculus in high school have told me this course is much weaker than high school. What used to be a first year math course is now a second year course. Just 1 section, but I’ll call it college material.

Trigonometry (240). This is 11th grade material for many students; some will take it in 10th grade or senior year. 3 sections. I encourage any who doubt me to pick a university campus that even offers pure trigonometry as a college course, and see with your own eyes it’s not a second year course, and neither is the next course, the one I’ve been looking for:

College Algebra (245). At last, we come to college algebra, or as math faculty know it, “The algebra you should have learned in high school.” Every topic listed in the course description, I learned in high school. The course is actually missing a few topics common to other “College Algebra” courses I’ve seen elsewhere, but those seem to be covered in the many, many, non college sections I’ve covered earlier. 3 sections.

I really need to emphasize this. This is the algebra I took in high school. This is the remedial algebra I taught at a university in the 80s. This is the first year college course I taught at university in the 90s and 21st century.

And now it’s a second year course. It’s official: community college is high school now; a person graduating with a 2 year degree from LACC will probably take this course as capstone material, and be at the level of many high school students I’ve known. Note: high school students, not high school graduates, as the algebra in this course is generally learned at the 10th or 11th grade.

When a student from LACC goes to university with his 2 year degree, the university is going to laugh at the student thinking he’ll only need 2 more years for a 4 year degree. “You fool,” will say the university, “you’ve just spent the last two years in high school, paying dearly for the privilege, and now you are at best as good as the high school graduates who just came here in the first place.”

And community college administrators lure suckers in by saying they’re “cheaper than university.” It’s not cheaper if everything you did at the community college goes right in the trash.

I want to point out: mathematicians have been notorious for trying to keep standards in higher education, and despite their struggle, “algebra” has now turned into a second year course at LACC. Mostly they’ve lost because Educationists have been taking over the math classes, for what it’s worth.

I’m just looking at math here, but does the gentle reader honestly believe Gender Studies courses are filled with 2nd year material? I’ll be looking at such a course soon, though Gender Studies is hardly the only fake course on campus. Thorough studies have shown many college courses are content free and have no requirements. You just pay your tuition and get your A…and that’s at accredited schools.

No wonder so many waiters and parking lot attendants have worthless college degrees. They were suckered into thinking high school was “higher education.”

Rather than provide higher education, our institutions of higher education have “redefined” higher education ever downward. It isn’t simply that college today is equivalent to the high schools of thirty years ago…it’s that in many cases, college today is equivalent to high school of today.

How can anyone look at this and not see fraud?

Saturday, July 26, 2014

The Community College Fraud, part 2

By Professor Doom

So, last time, I was looking at the course offerings at LACC, and saw that a huge amount of resources are devoted to teaching 6th grade and lower math.
Let’s continue to see what “higher education” this community college offers:

Elementary Algebra (113) and Elementary Algebra (114). Because students are so far behind, administration created courses like this that go slower—when you’re behind, you catch up by going slower, right? There are 10 sections of this (7 sections for 113, and 3 for 114---even greatly watered down material doesn’t see many students pass, especially the fake students of the Pell Grant scam). It’s college credit at LACC, but we’re way below high school here, roughly the 7th grade.

I repeat: this is material students see in the public schools around the 7th grade, 8th grade for the slower students, and it’s “college coursework” here.

Elementary Algebra (115). Again, this is the same bogus math course of 113 and 114, just pushed together into a single math course. If accreditation were serious, they’d ask why students are being screwed into taking 113 and 114 when 115 does the same thing in half the time. If accreditation were even halfway serious, it’d ask why the material common 7th grade in the public schools is “college credit.” There are 17 sections of this course.

I bet you’re wondering when this community college will offer high school work.
Me too, but just the above courses merit comment.

LACC is a 2 year college, and they have, literally, 2 years of non college credit and (fake) college credit math courses for students to take.  Most loan programs have a time limit on them, perhaps 4 years. Now, if you take 2 years of non-college material, that means you’ll be 2 years behind in your 4 years of “higher education.” A talented and hardworking student can complete a 4 year degree in three years, but two years? Not very likely, and there aren’t any talented and hardworking students that are taking 7th grade math in college.

An administrator with integrity would look at this curriculum and think “Wait. Any student we enroll in two years of pre-high school of math will have no chance whatsoever of paying back the student loans, which will run out before the student can get a degree. We are hurting people. We need to not do this.”

That’s the path of integrity, and that can’t come from admin, which only wants growth.
Instead, administration does two things. First, administration tacks on section after section of this stuff. Growth, after all. The fact that doing this is wrong doesn’t stop admin from simply doing more of it, much more, as much as they can get away with.
Second, to prevent people from catching on, admin changes the numbering and credit. 

I must point out again: the 7th grade work in these courses is actually “college credit.” At least, the students think it’s college credit, but good luck trying to transfer that as anything but remedial work.

LACC is selling 7th grade material and calling it “college.” Is “fraud” the right word for that?

Let’s look some more at what LACC is actually calling first year college work:

Essentials of Plane Geometry (121). This is the geometry most students take in the 9th or 10th grade of high school. 4 sections.

Intermediate Algebra (124a). This is, literally, half of a class, taught over a whole semester, roughly 8th to 9th grade. 3 sections.

Intermediate Algebra (124b). This is the other half. 2 sections. It used to be, the remedial classes were slowed down already. To increase growth, administration offers more remedial courses. To increase growth further, they take the slow classes and slow them down some more. Luckily, students can still take the “normal” slow courses:

Intermediate Algebra (125). This is the previous two courses, presented as a single course. Still haven’t made it to algebra yet, but we’re closing in on the level of material a very weak high school graduate might have. Anyone who bothers to look can see this, as the course description reads: “Topics include linear functions, systems of equations, inequalities, polynomials…” I really want to point out here: I tutor high school students, I know what they’re doing in high school. The material in this course isn’t it. 20 sections.

I have to pause here, because there is much in the above worth considering on its own.
Anyone else remember the public service commercial with children in school, asking to learn algebra? Kids, not college students. Learning plain ol’ algebra, not “intermediate,” “elementary,” or “pre-”. Now, in California, students are told that they’ll need to take as much as TWO YEARS of “college” courses before they’ll be ready to take the material that kids used to learn.

And what a dizzying array of fake courses. Someone ignorant of what’s going on would have no idea of what these classes are, and an incoming student wouldn’t know that the above joke courses won’t even transfer to most universities as college material.
Just one more course for today:

Principles of Mathematics (215). This is math for elementary school teachers, a course by and for Educationists. As such, it’s not a real course. There’s nothing in here that a high school graduate wouldn’t already know. The course description reads “The main concern will be understanding the structure of systems of whole numbers, integers, and rational numbers.” This material is basically in the “arithmetic” course I discussed in the previous post. Anyone who is curious why the public school teacher can’t add fractions need look no further than this course. 2 sections.

Note the numbering on this Educationist course. We’re now entering the 200 level courses, supposedly 2nd year courses, although, again, anyone knowledgeable looking at the course content of the above 200 level Education course knows its not a college course, either.

LACC is fully accredited, but, as I’ve shown in detail, accreditation has nothing to do with the legitimacy of the education. It’s a joke in that regard.

In the 80s, algebra was a remedial course on college campuses. Some time in the 90s, it turned into a first year college course. We’re already into the 200 level courses, the second year courses, and algebra is nowhere to be found.

Next time, we’ll see if it’s been turned into a 3rd year course or not. In the meantime, consider that none of the above, over 90 sections of classes, are college material, that all of it is offered in high school, much of it in primary school, even…and yet students are being sold these courses as “higher education.”

I repeat: everything we’ve seen so far in remedial, first, and second year college courses is material that is taught in the American public school system—a system that is widely held in contempt for how little it asks of and gives to students. All of it, the students have already seen, and now they’re paying a fortune to “learn” it again for college credit.

How is this not a fraud?

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

25% of Community College Is 6th Grade Level

By Professor Doom

     Good ol’ community college. If you can’t get into, or can’t afford, university, then community college is the place to be. It’s also cheap, cheap, cheap…or at least, that’s what community college administrators tell you.

     Thing is, it’s only cheap if you’re actually getting what you think you’re getting in the way of education. It doesn’t matter if tuition is only 20% of university if the coursework isn’t college level or prepare you for anything, and you’ll be wasting your precious time as well.

     Late July is the time when students, seeing that university isn’t an option or looking to save a few bucks, decide to enroll in community college at nearly the last minute. If you’re one of those students, you must follow your heart in that regard, but I feel I must warn you all the same.

     In the past, I discussed a community college in New York that was clearly a joke when it came to offering legitimate education. It clearly existed just to separate the ignorant from their money, grants, and student loans, and the faculty there made it clear that the coursework was not college level. That said, I granted it was a new college, and since they focused on non-college ready students. I gave them a pass for having mostly fake courses, but thought perhaps a more established community college would do better.

     So, I decided to look at a college that’s been around decade or so. Unfortunately, when I looked at a community college in Louisiana, there was a big problem: at least 90% of the coursework was still at the high school level or lower (much lower, as in 3rd grade material, like adding whole numbers). Even more distressing is that only 1% of the coursework was 2nd year college material, a bit of a problem in a 2 year college more than ten years old. If all the money poured into higher education is going to make a difference, it has to bring a high school graduate to the college level in a decade…or so I think.

     Again, maybe I’m still being unfair. Louisiana hardly has a stellar reputation when it comes to academia and knowledge. So, to be fair about calling community colleges a scam, I should look elsewhere.

     Next up is Los Angeles, specifically Los Angeles City College. I’ve never set foot on the campus, but I’ve been to Los Angeles many times. I’m always struck by the vast disparity in wealth in this mighty city. So many people there are just barely getting by on the streets, while the big shiny buildings, mere footsteps away, seem filled with the wealthy.

     Surely, a cheap community college here would be eager to help the poor people get an education to improve their lives. Would such a school load up on bogus, non college coursework, keeping students on campus long enough to fleece them out of their government supplied loans and grants?

     In times past, I’d have to go on campus to see for myself. This is the modern world, it’s a simple matter to see what, exactly, is going on there, because all LACC course offerings for the Fall semester are posted online. Once again, I’ll simply look at the math classes—mathematics is key to much of modern technology. L.A. is close enough to the famed Silicon Valley area that any school even remotely interested in helping students move up would have to offer courses necessary for understanding of technology.

     I emphasize: anyone willing to take a few minutes can see the fraud of these institutions by checking course offerings online. Accreditation, which supposedly legitimizes a school, never bothers to check to see if the school has much in the way of real courses, offering a real chance at education for the students.

      Instead, most (all?) community colleges simply load students up on junk, or pre-high school level material, and act like the students are really getting “higher education.” 

     Looking at the offerings of LACC:

2 sections of “Math as a Second Language” (NDA). The numbering system for coursework at LACC is a bit different than what I’m used to, but “NDA” means “Non Degree Applicable”, i.e., a non college credit course. Community colleges have to serve their community, and L.A. has many non-English speakers. I’m going to give LACC a pass on these two courses, because I’ve seen a few non-English speakers struggle in a class taught in English. So let’s just forget about these two sections, and see when the college courses start.

Mathematics Workshop (NDA). This is a 3 hour lab that’s linked to just about every math course. Students must enroll here, and they can come to the lab, where tutors will help. It’s a good idea, although having been a part of, and administered, such workshops, I know lots of students just get the tutors to do the work. Most students don’t even bother going to the lab…but they’re still charged for it. Because most math courses have this workshop attached to it, about half the time spent in classrooms at LACC is non college credit. I have to count the labs as coursework, since students register and pay for it.

Arithmetic (NDA). This non college course is, well, arithmetic, the stuff you learned from 3rd to 5th grade, more or less. As near as I can tell, there are 18 sections (some are online, some are taught by the same instructor at the same time in two different rooms, somehow…). It’s hard to tell enrollments, but there could be a thousand students tossing their money down this rathole. People enrolling in this course are documented as having the mental capacity of an 8 year old. How can such people understand the enormity of the student loan debt they’re taking on? It really seems integrity should be a factor in this, but it doesn’t stop administration from offering 18 sections.

Pre-Algebra (NDA). This non-college course is the material most readers learned in the 6th grade. There are 16 sections of this course. Again, I find myself wondering: can someone with the mental capacity of an 11 year old really understand what it means to take on tens of thousands of dollars of debt that cannot be removed via bankruptcy?

By merely looking at the first two courses, and their huge number of sections, we have a problem. LACC has an enrollment of around 20,000 students. These classes are taught in huge lecture halls, capable of holding a couple hundred students. We’re talking thousands of students, at least 10%, perhaps 40%, are caught in this remedial education trap. Combine this with the labs, and this part of LACC is sucking up resources in a way that has nothing, nothing to do with higher education.

As an added bonus, these students are all learning material that their parents paid exorbitantly for their kids to learn in public school. Now, the kids are learning it again, and going into debt for the rest of their lives for the privilege.

This is, of course, par for the course for community college—communities are told that community colleges are all about “higher education”, but when you look closely, like at LACC, you see that most of the money just goes to stuff that’s far below “higher education.” The above courses and labs represent perhaps 25% of the resources being used at the community college…and it’s at the 6th grade level.

I’ll grant that some students taking these courses are, well, “not gifted”, but many of them, probably most, are in those classes because there’s no challenge, and they can drift through “college.” And, of course, because they get fat checks from the government for enrolling, even in non-college coursework…these students are just scamming the taxpayer, as I’ve written about before.

If administration thought scamming was a problem, they’d probably only have a section or two, and they’d keep class sizes small, so that the students that honestly needed help to function as a 9 year old could get the help they need.

Instead, there are many sections, and class sizes are huge. Why can’t accreditation connect the dots? Oh yeah, accreditation is in on the scam.

Still, so far, this is all typical of community college. It actually gets worse, as we’ll see next time.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

4 Faculty Apply As 1 Administrator

By Professor Doom

     Faculty members always grind their teeth when an administrator leaves. It isn’t simply that now we’ll have to deal with the mess the administrator left behind, nor is it the frustration of realizing that the new administrator will get paid even more than the old…and that the new admin’s higher pay will be used to justify no pay raises for us.

     No, what really drives us mad about it is when the administrator leaves…nothing happens. When a faculty member leaves his job, it is immediately a problem. All the classes that would be taught…are not taught. The students that need those classes to graduate are in big trouble—a single faculty leaving can disrupt the lives of hundreds of students, costing many of them half a year or more of their lives if nothing is done. We all scramble to do something about the loss of a position, knowing that we must do so to help the students.

     But when an administrator leaves, especially the Grand Poo Bah running the place? It’s completely irrelevant. No faculty member is affected, no student is affected, heck, no sportsball team is affected. The Poo Bah has nothing to do with an institution’s goals of teaching and research, and yet they are paid many multiples of what any faculty member gets, and treated like gods, critical to the institution.

     As the months go by without a Poo Bah (or lower level admin), the realization that we don’t need a Poo Bah just gets worse and worse, not that faculty can do anything about it. The huge disparity of pay between relevant faculty and worthless administrators is well past sanity now, and some faculty decided to at least try to point out how ridiculous both the job and pay of the Poo Bah is:

     A Poo Bah is leaving the University of Alberta. Although this Poo Bah is making a mere $385,000 a year (a pittance by today’s standards for Poo Bahs), four faculty stepped up to take the position. 

      Let me clarify: four faculty, together, offered to step up and simultaneously fill the single position. Imagine if you needed a full time nurse helping you, and instead of hiring 1 nurse, FOUR nurses offered to show up and do it for the same money that you were going to give just the one. How could you turn down the deal, especially if all four were quite qualified to the do the job? Instead of 8 hour a day service, you’d get 24 hours a day, and a backup. A no brainer, right?

      Administrators award themselves bogus Ph.D.s, so they can claim to be educated, which is something that you want in a leader of an institution of higher education. Even if such degrees were legitimate, no single administrator could possibly have the education of 4 faculty members—that’s 4 legitimate Ph.D.s (as opposed to a bogus administration degree), which few, if any, (individual) people have.

     I’m serious. Four faculty to do the job of a single “titan of industry.” Actually, 56 faculty have applied, in groups of four. I grant, this is a publicity stunt; it seems Canada (like every country) is having serious economic difficulties, and the faculty are doing this to highlight outrageous administrative pay even as the institutions face cutback after cutback.

     The first group of 4 to apply wrote a nice application letter, well worth a read.

“Even a quarter of the typical remuneration offered to top administrators would mean doubling or tripling her and her co-applicants’ current salaries, she said. Indeed, a yearly salary of $400,000 is four or five times the pay rate of your average tenured academic, and “at least 10 times that of a sessional,””

--a “sessional” is what we in the U.S. call an “adjunct”, a miserably paid professor that gets no benefits and poverty-level pay as he leads students down the path to endless student debt the riches of higher education. The dollar amount quoted is Canadian, but it’s about the same as U.S. dollars. Hey, does anyone else remember when Canadian dollars were worth much less than U.S. dollars? Anyone connecting dots in that regard?

     Isn’t is neat that if you cut the Poo Bah’s pay by half, and hire four faculty to do his job and share the halved salary, those four people would still be making more money?

     The benefits of having four people do the job of one are pretty amazing. Sick leaves and vacation? Not needed, each member could easily miss 3 months and there would still be three people available at any given time to handle problems. A lone Poo Bah can’t possibly keep up with that. While the Poo Bah can’t possibly teach and do his supposedly-important job, the four faculty members would easily share duties well enough to also have time to teach at least a course or two a year. With 4 people in that position doing actually relevant work, the whole group leaving would indeed be a problem for the institution.

     Wow, a “Poo Bah” that is actually relevant to education? That’s just unheard of nowadays. Administrators that teach would change everything for the better, just like back when higher education wasn’t mostly a scam to fleece young people. 

      I sure hope the board of trustees, which choose the Poo Bah, hires one of the groups of faculty that are applying for the position, and I deeply hope the idea takes off elsewhere in higher education. So much money is going into worthless administrative positions that using groups of faculty looks like a win for everyone involved. Well, except for professional administrators, but “peace breaking out” is always a problem when you’re just a plundering cutthroat mercenary.

     Attached to the article is a poll, and 90% of the respondents agree that, indeed, administrative salaries are too high. 10% of the respondents are administrators.