ERIC Number: ED384390
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1995-May
Defending Literacy: With Particular Consideration of the Community College.
Sadock, Geoffrey J.
The broad and highly politicized debate about the causes of rising illiteracy in the nation fall into three categories: nurture, or inadequate elementary/secondary educational institutions; nature, or arguments about genetics and the unteachability of Blacks and other minority groups; and social science, or the idea that standard literacy tests merely represent the injustice of the system. While each idea offers its own rationale, what is clear is that measures to reduce illiteracy must be more than cosmetic. Such measures, while controversial, include: reintroducing grammar instruction; scrapping bilingualism; constitutionally declaring English as the nation's only official language; reinterpreting affirmative action so that it fosters colorblind equal opportunity based on merit; re-establishing a canon of texts selected on literary excellence alone; returning remediation, "foundation" learning, and differentiated degree programs to high schools; eliminating grade inflation; developing and using standardized examinations to determine both degree-track and advancement; and involvement of parents responsible enough to turn off television and demand homework. Community colleges are on the frontline of this battle for literacy, as they face growing percentages of students unable to perform at college level. Suggestions to stem the decline in literacy include: colleges should raise standards to ensure that students graduate with adequate skills to success; require at least a C (2.0) grade point average in "every" semester of a degree program; eliminate remedial and English-as-a-Second Language (ESL) programs, requiring one standard English proficiency examination for all applicants; significantly reduce adjunct faculty hiring; and use transcripts that show all courses taken and grades earned, including F's (or R's). The "downsizing" so necessary in this era could be accomplished at the community college by returning to the norms that served the U.S. well in the past. (Contains 33 notes.) (KP)
Descriptors: Affirmative Action, Bilingual Education, Change Strategies, College Role, Community Colleges, Curriculum Problems, Educational Improvement, English (Second Language), Grade Inflation, Illiteracy, Remedial Programs, Social Problems, Standardized Tests, Test Score Decline, Two Year Colleges
Publication Type: Opinion Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: Princeton Univ., NJ. Mid-Career Fellowship Program.
Note: In its: Issues of Education at Community Colleges: Essays by Fellows in the Mid-Career Fellowship Program at Princeton University; see JC 950 341.