Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Paying twice for an education?

The Houston Business Journal for August 29, 2006 has an article in its online edition entitled "Study: Texans Paying Twice for Education." The article is about how community colleges have to invest large amounts of money to provide remedial education to high school graduates. The idea is that taxpayers pay twice for this education: once for the education they should have gotten in high school and the second time for the remedial education. According to the article, Texans spend $88 million a year to provide that remedial education, and they lose $194 million in wages due to the fact that remedial students are more likely to drop out without finishing a degree, which lowers their earning potential. This caught my eyes because in my university we do a very large amount of remedial education. Given that we are an open admissions institution, we take pretty much anybody who can pay. This means that we get a lot of students who simply are not "college-ready." Now, I am not saying that providing opportunities to those who may not have them otherwise is a bad thing. On the contrary, I do believe in my campus's mission of providing an education to those who, for various reasons, never had access before. However, the fact that so much is spent on remedial education should be alarming. I see it in the students that retake basic classes once, twice, a few even three times. I see it in students I work with that clearly did not get the preparation they needed in their high schools. Now, we should not just be blaming the high schools for all the woes. What we need is to collaborate--the schools, the colleges, the communities--so our students have the necessary preparation each step of the way if we want them to become successful and productive members of society. It means there has to be an urgency to fixing the problems of high schools in ways other than just adding another test. It means funding higher education at adequate levels and supporting it as well. Or, we can continue to pay for the same stuff twice.

Update note (8/31/06): Find here the press release from the Alliance For Excellent Education, which is cited in the story I mentioned above. The release also has a link to their issue brief as well.


trisha said...

I visited the gypsylibrarian blog but found that your posts didn't show up on the screen at all.
Technical glitch??

Angel, librarian and educator said...

Thanks for visiting. It could be a glitch. I just checked, and it seems ok. What I have observed is that the IE browser tends to push the posts on blogs to the bottom, which makes readers have to scroll (quite a bit) down to see them. It does give the impression nothing is there. Firefox does not do this (so far). I am hoping it was a momentary glitch on Blogger's part. Thanks for letting me know. Best, and keep on blogging.