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Actually, the Army has it right: "Be all you CAN be." (Emphasis mine.) The
difficulty, of course is to define the "can" part. I suggest letting the
students themselves do the definition. If they can't pass the lowest level
math and English courses after multiple tries, they have demonstrated
their current ability.

There are indefinitely many issues in society where spending money will do
good. The mere fact that it will do good does not, itself, justify the
expenditure, given that there is an almost unlimited amount of good to be
done, and a limited amount of money to expend in that direction. So making
decisions how to spend it is, regretfully, necessary.

I took a look at our students who began at the sub-developmental level in
math and who required more than one attempt to pass the pre-algebra
course. I found, after four years of the program, NO case where any of
those students had passed a 100-level math course. Millions of dollars in
public money, their money, and their years that are being expended in an
effort that is very unlikely to yield results.

I don't argue that those dollars, and the efforts of all these
professionals, don't yield some good; but how much more good could be
achieved if they were directed to a need that is more likely to produce
good results, do good for more students, be of more benefit to the
taxpayer -- who is, after all, the primary source of these funds.

John M. Flanigan <[log in to unmask]>   The equation is the final arbiter.
Assistant Professor, Mathematics                    --Werner Heisenberg
http://naio.kcc.hawaii.edu/jflanigan  The scoreboard is the final arbiter.
Kapi'olani Community College                        --Bill Walton
4303 Diamond Head Road                History is the final arbiter.
Honolulu HI  96816                                  --Edward Gibbon
(808) 734-9371                        Nature is the final arbiter.
                                                    --Barry Commoner

On Mon, 14 Aug 2000, Craig Andres wrote:

> I don't think it's a myth, but maybe it isn't
> stated accurately enough.
> I believe anyone can do anthing they want, as long
> as they have a genuine interest in it, and put in
> the effort to excell in that area.
>
> I am struggling with this issue myself.  But I
> know from personal experience, as well as from
> observations, that you must find a way to take an
> interest in mathematics to do well in it.  Then
> you must put the time and effort towards it.  I
> believe that's true of any discipline, sport,
> hobby or skill.
>
> "John M. Flanigan" wrote:
> >
> > This is an important but largely neglected issue. We see thousands of
> > students spend thousands of dollars and an important part of their lives
> > in the effort to become something for which they are not well-suited. The
> > myth that "you can do anything if you want to do it badly enough" is so
> > firmly implanted in our educational culture that there are many who
> > actually believe it. But if you look at the numbers, you cannot.
> >
> > A complementary problem that was not mentioned in the summary: The
> > assumption that "everyone should be able to attend college" becomes,
> > insidiously, "everyone should have a college degree." That is a grave
> > injustice to the myriads of people whose talents lie elsewhere. It leads
> > to the attitude that one is unworthy unless one attends college.
> >
> > Our big problem is that our society has not developed an equally-valued
> > path for the development of other talents. Trade schools are unfairly
> > thought of as repositories for those who can't qualify for an academic
> > path. When I interview a prospective student who pretty clearly does not
> > have everything it takes to get a degree, am I not hypocritical if I
> > encourage them to spend a few thousand dollars and a couple of years of
> > their life to discover it? But what good alternative recommendation can I
> > make? It is a matter of much concern to me.
> >
> > There is much to be said for this opinion. I hope this thread continues.
> >
> > John M. Flanigan <[log in to unmask]>   The equation is the final arbiter.
> > Assistant Professor, Mathematics                    --Werner Heisenberg
> > http://naio.kcc.hawaii.edu/jflanigan  The scoreboard is the final arbiter.
> > Kapi'olani Community College                        --Bill Walton
> > 4303 Diamond Head Road                History is the final arbiter.
> > Honolulu HI  96816                                  --Edward Gibbon
> > (808) 734-9371                        Nature is the final arbiter.
> >                                                     --Barry Commoner
> >
> > On Mon, 14 Aug 2000, Norman Stahl wrote:
> >
> > > >MAGAZINES & JOURNALS
> > > >
> > > >A glance at the summer issue of "American Outlook":
> > > >Too many people go to college
> > > >
> > > >The swelling number of college-bound high-school seniors does
> > > >"serious damage to industry, students, and higher education
> > > >itself," writes William R. Beaver, a professor of social science
> > > >at Robert Morris College.  Enrollment rates have risen
> > > >phenomenally over the past century, writes Mr. Beaver, with 70
> > > >percent of all high-school graduates going on to college. And
> > > >while increased college attendance seems a safe goal to
> > > >politicians, he disagrees that it's for the best. As the last of
> > > >the baby boomers entered college in the 1980's, institutions
> > > >became fearful of not filling their classes, Mr. Beaver says,
> > > >and responded with massive publicity campaigns, lower standards,
> > > >and scholarships -- all to attract "less-qualified students."
> > > >Many of those students couldn't handle the work, he maintains,
> > > >so colleges introduced remedial courses and began inflating
> > > >grades.  The result: "Higher education became less of a haven
> > > >for the elite and the academically qualified and more of an
> > > >expected destination for almost everyone." That change has had a
> > > >"detrimental impact on industry," writes Mr. Beaver, who quotes
> > > >a corporate recruiter noting the shortage of skilled workers.
> > > >Mr. Beaver writes that parents and high-school guidance
> > > >counselors just can't get over the notion that a college degree
> > > >is the way to success, and, therefore, often encourage students
> > > >-- who actually might find higher pay scales as skilled
> > > >industrial workers -- to go to college. Such students waste
> > > >time, he says, and hurt academe. Mr. Beaver warns: "For a
> > > >college education to have meaning, it must be distinctive and
> > > >limited to those with the ability and motivation to pursue it."
> > > >The article is not available online, but more information about
> > > >the magazine may be found at
> > > >http://www.hudson.org/American_Outlook/
> > > >_________________________________________________________________
> > > >
> > > >_________________________________________________________________
> > > >
> > >
> > > Norman A. Stahl
> > > Professor and Chair
> > > Literacy Education
> > > GH 223
> > > Northern Illinois University
> > > DeKalb, IL 60115
> > >
> > > Phone: (815) 753-9032
> > > FAX:   (815) 753-8563
> > > [log in to unmask]
> > >
>
> --
> Craig Andres
> Kettering University
> (Continuing the GMI heritage)
>
> "We must look forward to the future as that is
> where most of us will be spending the rest of our
> lives."  Charles Kettering.
>