Community colleges don't 'cool out' students

May 09, 2011

The op-ed by Fred Miller "'Cooling out' poor minority kids in community college" (May 9) was one of the most incredulous opinions on community colleges that I have ever read. I could take issue on a line-by-line basis with each premise of the article. I will try, however, to address two fundamental points.

First, based on my 15 year tenure as an associate professor at Anne Arundel Community College, there is nothing in my experience that suggests that we "deployed various mechanisms to persuade the majority of their students to give up their 'unrealistic' baccalaureate aspirations." If anything, students who arrive with less than a four-year transfer program in mind are directed/encouraged/supported to consider such a program when consistent with their goals and aspirations. Mr. Miller appears to equate associate degrees and certificate programs with diversion techniques to direct poor and minority students from selective 4 year colleges.

Secondly, Mr. Miller seems to imply that there is a direct correlation between tuition and quality. In an unsubstantiated statement, he reports that "Community college founders have sought to produce 'intelligent followers' — docile technicians, resigned to their economic fate and not dreaming of being well-educated, politically active, powerful citizens."

This is absolute nonsense!

As to the quality and rigor of programs at Anne Arundel Community College, my students consisted not only of students beginning their post-secondary education but those along the continuum with PhDs in philosophy and physics from some of the most prestigious four-year universities. And those advanced degree students inevitably expressed their utmost satisfaction with the educational quality and rigor of the community college.

Richard Ulrich, Glen Arm

The writer is a retired associate professor of computer science at Anne Arundel Community College.

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