CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Had an interesting conversation with Concord University math professor (and tennis coach) Joe Blankenship regarding the legislative interim committee discussions on remedial math classes.
(Earlier in the week, higher education Chancellor Paul Hill described remedial classes as quicksand -- of every 100 students required to take remedial math, only 22 will get out of college with a four-year degree.)
Blankenship took that as a slam on the quality of the remedial classes -- and said the real issue is that West Virginia high schools are graduating thousands of kids who lack basic math skills.
(Not to mention that a declining pool of state high school students is resulting in more and more marginal students getting to fill space in state college classrooms.)
Blankenship said he has a unique perspective, since he used to teach sixth-grade math in Mercer County, and said many of the students he had as sixth-graders are now showing up in the remedial math classes he teaches at Concord.
Blankenship said that, as a little experiment, he gives the same test he used in sixth grade to his remedial classes.
Shockingly, he found that many of his former students who got A's on the test in sixth grade are flunking it in college. He said many students don't take math after seventh grade, and their math skills atrophy by the time they get to college.
The bottom line, he said, is that students are coming out of West Virginia high schools woefully unprepared for college-level coursework -- and that it's unrealistic to expect them to learn in a one-semester remedial class what they should have been taught in four years of high school.
"Students are worse now than they were 10 to 15 years ago," he said.
Considering that Concord is probably in the middle-tier of state colleges academically, Blankenship said he shutters to think about the caliber of students in the lower-tier schools.
He recalled that one of Hill's predecessors called remedial classes "purgatory" -- and said it's easier to treat remedial classes as the fall guy, rather than have the political will to address the real problems with public schools.
To that end, the state's "open admissions" standard for in-state students does many a great disservice, leaving them as ex-students saddled with student loans and debts, with no diploma or marketable skills to show for it.
More evidence that John Raese's AJG Corp. is a front for West Virginia Radio Corp. to allow Raese to acquire rival stations WCLG AM and FM in Morgantown without violating Federal Communications Commission market ownership limits: