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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

oakland community college

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Honest grading in high school would help students 

oakland community college

Commentary writer Patrick Welsh does a first-class job of shifting the blame in his Forum piece "Is college overrated?" (July 7).
After admitting he was sending students to college that he "felt guilty about passing," Welsh criticizes colleges for admitting them. But the main reason these unprepared students are admitted is because high school teachers such as Welsh pass them, creating a record indicating the students have learned something in high school when apparently they haven't.
If Welsh is concerned about "students who don't have the skills one would expect of a ninth-grader going off to four-year colleges," perhaps he should consider a change in his grading system and pass only the students who actually know something. That is exactly what happens in the college courses I teach at Oakland Community College in Michigan. While it leads to a higher dropout rate, it often also leads to something else: a change in work ethic for many students who are asked to earn their grades, many for the first time in their school careers.
Criticizing the colleges for pocketing the tuition of these students is disingenuous. If high school teachers gave these students the failing grades they earned, the colleges would not admit them. Welsh rightly points out that something needs to be done about college dropout rates. Having high school teachers grade students honestly would be the first — and biggest — step in the right direction.
Patrick O'Connor; Birmingham, Mich.
Education is essential
I agree with Patrick Welsh's contention that a college degree may not be essential in today's work place. A degree, however, is quite distinct from an education. An education necessarily teaches self-management skills, so that college graduates will not have to consult Oprah Winfrey, Dr. Phil or Dear Abby to learn how to succeed in life and at work.
Degrees may be overrated, but an education never is.
Edward O'Keefe; Bonita Springs, Fla.
Vocational training
I am an art teacher and value a liberal arts education. Yet I found Patrick Welsh's opinion piece "Is college overrated?" a refreshing bull's-eye.
Rather than "talking down" to the many students who are uninterested in college, let's give them the education they want and need. I am in favor of a vocational training program with built-in flexibility for those who change their minds midstream. To do otherwise undermines students and support for public education.

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