An insult to community college grads

May 09, 2011

In his op-ed ("Cooling out poor, minority kids in community college," May 9), Fred Millar has insulted the success by every student of any color who has attended and graduated from a community college. Despite being an "educational sociologist," Mr. Millar also perpetuates the myth that grades should not matter for eligibility to either 2- or 4-year colleges.

While discussing the quality of remedial courses for those in both institutions, Mr. Millar never mentions why remedial courses are necessary in the first place. Students leave high school without adequate reading and math skills and then are promised "you'll get help on this at the university" by guidance counselors. Community colleges and universities are not intended to be where students of any color, white included, learn how to study, read and count.

I agree with President Obama calling for increased funding for community colleges because they are a learning ground for skills and talents that any sociologist should discern young Americans today are lacking and which America needs to help prevent employers from looking elsewhere. Mr. Millar claims that President Obama is blaming America's woes on "allegedly defective workers," a problem Mr. Millar ignores. However, Mr. Millar paradoxically claims students entering colleges require remedial courses, citing minority dropout rates as high as 50 percent.

Of course, Mr. Millar will not blame the student scholastic aptitude, parental guidance, the curricula of K-12 schools or schools' hesitation to hold failing students back due to self esteem or success statistics. His article is silent as to why students requiring remedial courses at universities are not a proof of deficient student skill levels.

A reason for the community college requirement in the controversial "Dream Act" is simple: if students can succeed in community college academics, they demonstrate a good chance at success when transferring to a university. Wouldn't this same failure occurring at the university level in effect rob a scholastically proficient minority student of a place at that institution?

Charles Herr, Baltimore

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