Common Core subject requirement may bump remedial education need
Written by DAVID DUPONT Sentinel Staff Writer
Saturday, 21 September 2013 08:44
The Common Core, an effort to make sure students graduate high school with the knowledge they need for jobs and higher education, may actually increase the need for remedial education, one Owens Community College trustee believes.
Ron McMaster told the college Success Committee that the Common Core, which is being implemented through state, actually represents a step back.
McMaster said the concept was first initiated by the nation's governors, and then picked up by President Barack Obama as part of his Race to the Top initiative. The program is also being pushed by major philanthropic organizations including the Gates Foundation.
While promoted as a way of increasing standards, McMaster said Tuesday in a Success Committee meeting, based on his readings the plan actually amounts to "dumbing down" the curriculum.
"Local systems have no say," McMaster said.
He said that though the standards say students should read the founding documents of the nation, when he looked at the details they actually read books about those documents and not necessarily the best books.
He said concerns have caused some states including Texas to opt out of the system, while others including Indiana have put implementation on hold. Ohio, however, is continuing with the program.
The impact for Owens may be more students needing remedial education, McMaster said.
McMaster's comments came during a wide-ranging discussion about the obstacles facing students as they launch their educational careers.
The state's colleges and universities are facing increasing pressures as the state shifts funding from how many students are enrolled to how many graduate.
One of the concerns discussed was the financial stresses on students.
Betsy Johnson, vice president for enrollment, said in the case of Pell Grants, students get their financial aid money from Owens, and then Owens seeks reimbursement from the federal government.
If the student, however, fails to meet the standards for the course by failing to attend, or dropping out, then the student ends up owing Owens money.
The college, Johnson said, tries to mitigate that by waiting to disperse funds until it's clear how many classes a student is attending, and then dispersing the appropriate amount.
The same holds true for loans, she said.
"We are actually one of the more conservative in how long we wait to disperse," said Treasurer Laurie Sabin.
Failure to pay back student debts, she said, "could destroy their lives."
The committee also discussed efforts to create agreements with area universities to more tightly link Owens' programs with four-year and graduate schools.
Progress, said Denise Smith, vice president of academic services, varies according to the program.
Coordinating course work in music, for example, is particularly problematic, she said.
Trustees, though, mentioned more successful efforts in technical fields such as construction management and agriculture.