Two-year college students get no respect

Community college students get no respect, writes UCLA Education Professor Mike Rose in Back to School: Why Everyone Deserves a Second Chance at Education. Adult students at community colleges and remedial programs want job skills — but they also want an education, Rose writes.

Self-improvement is an American tradition, notes Jay Mathews in the Washington Post.

. . . Rose crafts rich and moving vignettes of people in tough circumstances who find their way; who get a second, third, or even fourth chance; and who, in a surprising number of cases, reinvent themselves as educated, engaged citizens.

. . . Rose bristles at the way experts talk about students who drop out of community college programs. . .  “People will leave once they develop sufficient skill to get a job,” he says. “This has a positive economic impact [but] . . . is often cited as an illustration of poor people’s inability to delay gratification and form long-term goals. In my experience, most of the people taking those immediate jobs do so because the rent is due, children need to be fed, members of the family are sick.”

Rose worries that remedial education is turning to modules and computer labs, breaking academics into bite-sized skills instruction and multiple-choice quizzes. He wants community college students to “enjoy the best of a liberal education,” Mathews writes.

“Rose’s idealism is the best kind: informed, tough-minded, self-aware,” writes Jim Cullen in a review on History News Network.

(Rose) advocates a more richly contextualized approach attentive to the lived experiences, social capital, and intellectual curiosity even the least prepared students bring to the classroom. (Such an approach would require comparable attention paid to the faculty for such courses, who are typically poorly trained and compensated for such work.) He argues for a similarly integrated approach to vocational training, with literacy and numeracy woven into the fabric of instruction.

Rose ” insists on the civic dimensions of even the most utilitarian of educations,” Cullen concludes.