One of my full time English faculty astutely pointed out to me in an email: “Want to see something even more depressing than the article? Read the comments afterwards...” So, I read over them. Many of them were laced with blame and hostility toward teachers and the education system. Many of them misunderstood the thesis and main points of the article (which [ironically] illustrates the author’s thesis!).
Where does this leave us as developmental educators? I think this article brings up many issues we face everyday, and it also provides the front-line faculty, the faculty who most commonly face this population of students everyday, year after year, a mechanism to really flesh out our concerns, questions, ideas, and provoke agency. Some of the questions that could prompt discussion at our next conference could be:
• How do we fill in the “holes” left by public education?
o What do we need to know about public school culture and curricula to do a better job in filling those holes?
o Are they solely academic holes? What other deficiencies do community colleges need to address and how can we do that effectively?
o How can this discussion inform our College and Career Readiness discussions?
• Do students suddenly become “not developmental” students once they leave our classes and register for college-level courses? Why or why not?
• What do all students really need to succeed? Are there some groups that would benefit from something more than other groups would? What group characteristics fit which benefits?
• How can we best inform our college-level peers about best practices in teaching underprepared students?
I am not interested in placing blame. What the author writes about is a reality that we must address at the college level. I don’t profess to know the answers. I feel as though ILSADE, if we really take on this discussion, can truly position itself in the state as the main voice in addressing these pressing issues.
Dr. Medea Rambish is the Dean of Developmental Education and College Readiness at Waubonsee Community College and the President-Elect of ILSADE.