Provide student aid for basic English classes to help immigrant students and cut attrition rates, Community College Dean writes.
Adult Basic Education students aren’t eligible for financial aid and often end up on long wait lists trying to get into basic ESL classes. Students who declare they’re seeking a degree can get aid to take remedial and credit-bearing English as a Second Language classes without a wait. That encourages immigrants to declare they’re seeking a degree, take a few classes to learn the skills they need and then leave. They’re counted as drop-outs.
When I’ve asked the ESL department about their attrition numbers, they’ve responded that many of the students never really meant to get a degree in the first place.
Um, okay, but there’s this pesky issue of financial aid fraud, not to mention legislators looking askance at what appear to be distressingly high attrition rates…
If the ABE programs were eligible for financial aid, we wouldn’t have this problem. Students who just wanted to learn enough English to talk to their children’s teachers and get along at work could take the ABE courses honestly, and the credit-bearing ESL courses would be reserved for students who are actually trying to get degrees.
Funding easy-access English classes for immigrants would pay off in increased productivity, the dean argues. Why make people wait to learn the skills that will enable them to integrate into society?