Archive for Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Speaker O’Neal wants to end taxpayer funding of remedial college courses

February 29, 2012


— Some legislators say they are ready to consider closing further the window on who can attend a regents university.

House Speaker Mike O'Neal, R-Hutchinson, on Wednesday touted his bill that would prohibit the use of tax dollars for remedial courses at state universities, and cut in half the number of students who are admitted but don't meet minimum admission standards.

O'Neal said the students who need remedial course work or fall below minimum standards would be better served going to a community college than risk failing at a regents school.

He got support from several members of the House Appropriations Committee, including Chairman Marc Rhoades, R-Netwon.

"I like the idea," of O'Neal's bill, said Rhoades, who said the committee would probably work on the measure next week.

House Bill 2745, would prohibit state tax dollars spent on remedial college courses. It would also cut from 10 percent to 5 percent the number of freshman class or transfer admissions allowed under the "exception window," meaning they don't meet minimum admissions standards.

A fiscal note done by the state budget office said that in the 2010-11 academic year, state universities taught 16,234 remedial credit hours, at a cost of nearly $1.5 million in state funds. If the bill were enacted, and the universities stopped offering remedial courses, they would lose $3.3 million in tuition, the fiscal note said.

O'Neal said his legislation wouldn't prevent the universities from offering the courses; it would just end taxpayer support of remedial instruction. "That just is a real aggravation to me," he said. Last year, O'Neal proposed a bill that would have charged the cost of remedial college courses back to the student's school district, but that proposal didn't go anywhere.

Approximately 14.5 percent of the entering freshman class take a remedial class with the vast majority being in math.

O'Neal also said universities should reduce the number of students who are admitted but don't meet the minimum criteria. To gain entrance to a regents school, freshmen from Kansas must score at least a 21 on the ACT, or graduate in the top one-third of their high school class, or complete a pre-college curriculum with at least a 2.0 grade point average.

But schools are allowed to admit up to 10 percent of freshman under the "exception window." O'Neal's proposal would reduce that to 5 percent.

Freshman retention rates for students who met minimum admission standards are more than 20 percent higher when compared to those who were admitted as exceptions, officials said.

O'Neal said the exception window was first put into place when legislators enacted the minimum admission standards. He said it was a way to satisfy Kansans who said that their children had a right to attend a Kansas school.

In the 2010-11 academic year, 15,810 Kansas residents were admitted as freshman in regents universities and 711, or 4.5 percent, of those were admitted through the exception window.

Of the six regents schools, three exceeded 5 percent in the number of freshman students admitted as exceptions — Emporia State, 8.1 percent; Pittsburg State, 7.1 percent and Fort Hays State, 6.8 percent. Kansas State was a 3.7 percent; Wichita State at 1.6 percent, and Kansas University had the lowest rate of admitting students under the exception at 0.4 percent.

But several legislators weren't supportive of O'Neal's proposal.

State Rep. Lana Gordon, R-Topeka, said remedial courses were necessary because sometimes students who were high achievers in most subjects may need some help in one subject, such as math.

She also said she was concerned that if the exception window was reduced, then only athletes would will be allowed through. "I have a problem with that," she said.

Kansas Board of Regents President and Chief Executive Officer Andy Tompkins said the board was neutral on the bill.

Fort Hays State University President Ed Hammond said he supported keeping the exception window as it is.

He said FHSU interviews students to determine if they would be good students admitted through the exception window. He said if these students graduate college "isn't that in Kansas' best interest?"


chootspa 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm not going to argue that a lot of remedial students wouldn't be better off taking courses at a community college first, but do we even have community colleges near some of those campuses like Fort Hays or Emporia? And by community colleges, I mean ones run by the state and not for-profit scam jobs.

bad_dog 3 years, 1 month ago

I believe Colby and Dodge City are the closest community colleges to FHSU.

deec 3 years, 1 month ago

Barton County is about 45 miles or so away.

bad_dog 3 years, 1 month ago

I did overlook Barton County Deec. Good catch. Great Bend was always kind of forgettable to me...

Although GB is about 60 miles from Hays if I recall correctly, that's still closer than either one I mentioned.

chootspa 3 years ago

Barton County is 1 hour 10 minutes away per Google Maps.

WilburNether 3 years, 1 month ago

Speaking of ignorance, that was one of the most ignorant comments I've ever seen here. The regents institutions have no business admitting "students" who require remedial courses. Period.

guesswho 3 years, 1 month ago

Gee, if they want to have students better prepared for college, why not improve the quality of elementary and secondary schools instead of cutting funding for these schools?

chootspa 3 years, 1 month ago

Because they'd rather blame them than fix them.

guesswho 3 years, 1 month ago

In response to your first sentence; yes, they do need to spend more money. There have been several studies in the last decade showing Kansas needs to increase K-12 school funding.

chootspa 3 years, 1 month ago

By what measure do you assert that the results have declined?

WilburNether 3 years, 1 month ago

You are falsely associating the quality of the education provided by Kansas elementary and secondary schools with the amount of money routed to the K-12 industry. There is no direct correlation. If there were, New York City public schools would be the best in the nation, not among the worst.

Logic is a good thing, especially compared to knee-jerk reactions.

chootspa 3 years, 1 month ago

Your jealousy of the college educated is unbecoming.

parrothead8 3 years, 1 month ago

Obama didn't say everyone should go to college.

In front of a Joint Session of Congress on 2/24/09, he asked, "every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma."

Please start checking Rick Santorum's "facts" before you repeat them.

somedude20 3 years, 1 month ago

This will be trucking over adult students who want to further their education. Someone who gets out of the military, who was not a great student in high school but now has the discipline to do better may not be able to do this.

Take it from old Ricky: "President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob ... Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image.”

Republicans do not want free thinkers or even people who have an average iq . They want dumb little robots who believe all that is said to them and vote the way that they are being told to

Republicans care while you freeload off your mother but once you are evicted from your mother, best of luck

somedude20 3 years, 1 month ago

What bothers me is that this will stop an "adult learner" from going to college due to this. Truth be told, I was a bad student in high school. I did not care about that, life was a party. After getting out of The USMC, I went to Penn State which would not have happened with this law. I went to and graduated (even making the dean's list one semester). We need to promote more people continuing their education, not give them reason to not

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Couldn't you just take some remedial classes elsewhere, and then apply to college?

somedude20 3 years, 1 month ago

You could but it adds costs (don't get me started on the GI Bill) and puts up walls that can be the difference between going or not. Also there are no guarantee that the college you go to later will accept the other schools transcripts

somedude20 3 years, 1 month ago

Mr. 80, I know what this is about. The govt is looking at cutting funding that will stop people from going to college. Try rereading my examples.

Onlyifitsadryshelter 3 years, 1 month ago

I have a college degree. Graduated with honors. Took a remedial math class. I'm not stupid and I finished, but had it not been for extra help acclimating to college math I would have been another drop out. This guy is a schmuck.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

Why didn't you get a good enough math education before you got to college?

It seems to me that's the problem here, isn't it?

chootspa 3 years, 1 month ago

High schools do not require every student complete college level math before graduation. They have to have math, sure, but you could graduate without taking the advanced "college prep" classes. Some base your placement on test scores, so even if you've had the classes and understand the concepts, you could bomb the test and end up in a remedial course. On top of that, some classes are considered remedial for KU that are 101 level course at other Regents schools.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

High school doesn't provide "college level" anything, it's high school.

"Remedial" by it's very definition implies a lack of correct prior education.

If you want to go to college, you should take the appropriate courses in high school to prepare for that.

If you "bomb" the test, you haven't learned the material and understood it well enough, in my view.

If your last sentence is true, that may be a valid point.

chootspa 3 years, 1 month ago

There are also people who go back to school years later and discover that they've forgotten all that math they didn't use. A remedial course gives them a brief refresher and preps them for learning higher level math.

jafs 3 years, 1 month ago

That's fine, but they can take that course elsewhere - colleges don't have to be in the business of providing them.

The continuing decline of standards in college admissions is not a good trend, in my view.

Bob Forer 3 years, 1 month ago

jafs, why are you apparently supporting a bill that doen't do what it claims. The rationale is to save 1.5 million in instructional costs. But at the same time, as noted in the article, the state will lose 3 millon in tuition--a net loss of 1.5 million.

Your comments give credence to the right's claim that a liberal snobbish elite exists.

i don't understand why any education is bad, specially when, in this case, it results in a net gain to the taxpayer's bottom line.

jafs 3 years ago

I'm not supporting a bill.

I'm saying that I think college admission standards should be reasonably high, and should be met.

If applicants to college aren't meeting those standards, then something is wrong with K-12 education, and that problem should be addressed.

The question of money and education is a different one, and complex - I don't support education because it makes money for the state, or results in money-making opportunities for graduates (which may be less and less true these days). I support it because I value it for it's own sake, as a valuable thing for people to have.

I suppose if you want, you can call me "liberal snobbish elite", but that's hardly my sense of where I stand and why.

Does anybody who advocates for standards become that?

chootspa 3 years ago

What's wrong with letting the college set their own admission standards instead of artificially imposing this one - that the colleges have not asked for?

jafs 3 years ago

Well, that's a good question.

They're public schools, so they're funded with tax dollars - that's what gives the government a say in it.

Private schools are free to set their own standards without that sort of involvement, right?

Bob Forer 3 years ago

The fact remains that by advocating standards more onerous than the ones we currently have in place, you are effectively precluding--or at least making it much more difficult--for thousands of folks, most of them of color and/or economically disadvantaged, from obtaining a higher education.

You are free to view yourself as you choose. Me? i call a spade a spade. In my book your are a snob, an elitist, and lacking in sufficient empathy for those less fortunate than yourself. Being a liberal has nothing to do with it.

jafs 3 years ago


You're wrong on all counts.

I'm all for helping the disadvantaged, and would improve high school education in a variety of ways to do that, and also am quite in favor of a variety of social programs to help parents/families. I have no children in public school, and almost certainly never will, but pay 1/2 of our property taxes to schools and never complain about it.

I just think that the ongoing deterioration of standards doesn't actually help anybody.

You know, there's an interesting question - why should colleges have any admission requirements at all?

And, if so, what should they be based on?

I think it's a bit of a travesty that it only takes a "C" average to get into KU.

Your argument seems to lead to the abolition of standards entirely, doesn't it? Anybody who wants to go to college should be able to, I suppose.

I'd have to ask them, but I suspect that the reason colleges have admission standards is because they're somewhat of a good predictive tool for who's likely to succeed in college, and they want to reduce the drop-out factor.

But, in your world, it's better for those who aren't prepared and likely to drop out to go for a little bit, and then fail, right?

And, please don't call me names - I don't feel the need to engage with people who do that, so if you continue, I'll stop responding to your posts, and then ask you to stop responding to mine.

Onlyifitsadryshelter 3 years, 1 month ago

I have a college degree. Graduated with honors. Took a remedial math class. I'm not stupid and I finished, but had it not been for extra help acclimating to college math I would have been another drop out. This guy is a schmuck.

Onlyifitsadryshelter 3 years, 1 month ago

I have a college degree. Graduated with honors. Took a remedial math class. I'm not stupid and I finished, but had it not been for extra help acclimating to college math I would have been another drop out. This guy is a schmuck.

Getaroom 3 years, 1 month ago

Whats wrong with Kansas? Mike O'Neal for one and that is only the beginning of a very long list of Brownbacks champions in crime against the an entire state.

gccs14r 3 years, 1 month ago

Yes, because only children of the wealthy should be able to go to college. Even better is if there are no schools at all, only private tutors.

Jan Rolls 3 years, 1 month ago

Why do these legislators meddle in other people's business? Why doesn't he work on finding jobs for people? Between sam the sham and these idiots it is the worst ever seen. How can these people be so cruel? At least the kids are trying. I guess he would rather have them working at mickey d"s.

Peacemaker452 3 years, 1 month ago

Since when is "finding jobs for people" not "meddle(ing) in other people's business"?

tolawdjk 3 years, 1 month ago

I tried helping a couple floormates with their Math "double aught duh" homework.

Couldn't do it. Couldn't break my brain down far enough to explain to them how to figure out how many apples Jack gave Jill or "If a train leaves Chicago..."

It was jaw dropping on how "remedial" this stuff was and how clueless some of them were that needed to take it. I agree wholeheartedly that this type of stuff shouldn't be taught at a Reagents level school.

Colby CCC and Barton CCC are not too far from Hays.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"I agree wholeheartedly that this type of stuff shouldn't be taught at a Reagents (sic) level school."

If you hadn't failed remedial spelling, I might agree with you.

tolawdjk 3 years, 1 month ago

I tried helping a couple floormates with their Math "double aught duh" homework.

Couldn't do it. Couldn't break my brain down far enough to explain to them how to figure out how many apples Jack gave Jill or "If a train leaves Chicago..."

It was jaw dropping on how "remedial" this stuff was and how clueless some of them were that needed to take it. I agree wholeheartedly that this type of stuff shouldn't be taught at a Reagents level school.

Colby CCC and Barton CCC are not too far from Hays.

Bob_Keeshan 3 years, 1 month ago

Says someone who has never been to Hays, Colby, or Great Bend.

tolawdjk 3 years, 1 month ago

Says someone who grew up in Albert. Says someone that had a friend that attended -both- Hays and Barton at the same time, while working a job in Bunker Hill.

Sorry Math 002 has no place in a major university setting.

chootspa 3 years, 1 month ago

Driving directions - Print Colby, KS Hays, KS 1 hour 45 mins 109.2 mi - I-70 E

Great Bend, KS
Hays, KS

1 hour 10 mins 64.6 mi - US-281 N and I-70 W

nativeson 3 years, 1 month ago

This proposal points out some issues with the Regents institutions. It is important for the state to provide what is considered remedial courses if the skills are lacking from some high school educations. But, it is inefficient to provide this curriculum across the board at all of the campuses in the system. There is a lack of coordination.

usnsnp 3 years, 1 month ago

I had to take a remedial course in math when I went to college. But this was after retiring form the Navy when I went back to college to get educated in a new carrier. But what is funney is that I taught in the NROTC unit University of Kansas, the class that I taught had a pre-requisit of Calculus 122, was able to figure out where a ship was by using Star sightings and math and was able to plan a trip for a ship around the world, this was all before the GPS and Navigation Satilites. But when I went to College to be able to graduate I had to take a basic math class, had not used some of this math in 31 years so a remedial math course was required. So much for life experience.

streetman 3 years, 1 month ago

Did it occur to anyone pooh-poohing this proposal that there just might be a correlation between admitting those unprepared for university rigors and the topic of today's editorial? Sixty-four percent of students can't complete a four year degree in four years. Twenty-one percent of freshman drop out. What a huge waste of time and money -- obviously, many of those admitted shouldn't be in college at all, or should be better prepared to be admitted. Incredible that anyone would think that it's acceptable to (try to) correct admission deficiencies AFTER being admitted! However, it's a good money-maker for the universities to play this game and, I suppose, makes some feel good that "anyone can go to college."

chootspa 3 years, 1 month ago

You'll see that it did occur to me . The second thing that occurred to me is that this blanket approach is not going to work either. It's not a one-size-fits-all problem in a state this big. I'm all for KU having higher admissions standards. They're expensive and rigorous, and we don't do anyone any favors by admitting them when they're not prepared. Anyone who wants to attend can go to nearby community colleges and transfer in, and they can even take classes from JCCC in Lawrence.

However, Fort Hayes isn't near a community college, and it serves a different student body with a lot of older, working students. Why prevent them from offering remedial coursework or create a bigger burden for their students if they're better serving their student population by offering it?

This is a case of some blowhard politician trying to impose his idea instead of listening to the experts. If this were merely an idea of remedial coursework being a "money maker," KU wouldn't be trying to create higher admissions standards.

William Weissbeck 3 years, 1 month ago

There seems to be a disconnect in the logic. They are separate issues about how many exceptions to allow and whether to teach a remedial course. What is missing is how many "non-exception" students take remedial courses? Then ask the question about the need for the courses. And don't overlook the law of unintended consequences - if the school doesn't get the funds to teach the courses, they aren't likely to turn away any students because of that, and then the students suffer in courses they aren't prepared for. Plus, I'd love to know why this is a legislative cause. My instincts tell me its the legislature's back door attempt to further cut funding.

streetman 3 years, 1 month ago

Don't see them as separate issues at all. Perhaps those who need "remedial" courses SHOULD be turned away until they can clear the bar -- going over it, not under it. "Exceptions" is also known as "dumbing-down." Why a legislative issue? Perhaps because the reagents schools are taxpayer supported, and that's where appropriations originate.

streetman 3 years, 1 month ago

Got me on "reagents." So what is a Boad? As for the legislature -- "He who pays has a say."

jayhawklawrence 3 years, 1 month ago

If you read any of the stuff published by the Cato Institute, you get the impression that they don't believe in any government support for education and they are developing a library of arguments to support this line of reasoning. Then they promote this line of reasoning through their seminars that are given to thousands of legislators across the country.

Most Americans are finding it more and more difficult to keep their head above water and the Republican response always seems to be to present a justification for making it even more difficult to access higher education. Their habit seems to be to cut funding and cut services whenever possible and to hell with the consequences.

I just don't believe that represents good leadership or management.

I also believe that for a lot of Kansans, it is getting harder to justify blind loyalty to any particular political party.

Patricia Davis 3 years, 1 month ago

I can't believe I agree with Morris on anything, but on this issue I do. With community colleges and virtual high schools, remedial classes can be handled more efficiently and probably more effectively than at a state university.

While I agree that people learn at different times in their lives, I think if there were fewer "do overs" in life people might take their secondary education more seriously.

werekoala 3 years, 1 month ago

You know, I actually find O'Neal's views abhorrent in most things; but I'm not thinking this is an entirely bad idea. It would have to be done very carefully: don't want to screw up GI benefits or other special issues. The goal should not be to place permanent barriers to higher education in front of low-performing students.

The goal should be to set a minimum threshold of competency for attending a university, and requiring people (including athletes) to meet it. I'm not talking brilliance here, I'm talking you should be able to do basic algebra. If you can't do that, I'm thinking that trying to leverage yourself into basic competency is better done in a smaller, more personal setting, without the distractions of Mass Street pub crawls and pledging to a fraternity.

But I think it speaks to a bigger issue: the failure of many primary and secondary schools to adequately prepare students for higher education (and, y'know, life?). I have thought for years that the way we do a lot of education is retarded. Let elementary schools in poor neighborhoods crumble, while throwing millions at colleges, and then just lowering admissions standards for kids from those crumbling schools benefits NO ONE. If we were smart, we would throw the most money at the schools that everyone uses (elementary/high school) - that's where we should be preparing people for the Real World.

This idea that everyone should get another four years of delayed adolescence, purchased on credit, to get the modern equivalent of a 1950s high school diploma is an invention of the upper-middle-class media that assumes everyone has $100K lying around to send little Susie to Vassar. What ends up happening is that because everyone who matters has their kids going to private schools and colleges, no one gives a damn about the public schools and being neglected, they churn out a stream of 18-year-olds completely unprepared for adulthood who will be at a major disadvantage for most of their 20s; in effect creating a 2-class system.

Bob Forer 3 years, 1 month ago

"A fiscal note done by the state budget office said that in the 2010-11 academic year, state universities taught 16,234 remedial credit hours, at a cost of nearly $1.5 million in state funds. If the bill were enacted, and the universities stopped offering remedial courses, they would lose $3.3 million in tuition, the fiscal note said."

At first glance, the bill has a certain logic to it as it purportedly saves money. But as noted above, the state would save 1.5 million in instructional costs yet lose twice that in tuition payments. There is no savings here.

The bill is just another O'Neal brain fart motivated by his prejudice against students of color and from economically deprived backgrounds.

JackMcKee 3 years, 1 month ago

I'm starting to count the days until these idiots cause riots to start breaking out.

JackMcKee 3 years, 1 month ago

and by idiots I'm talking about people like O'Neal

deec 3 years, 1 month ago

Just because someone is deficient in one area, such as math, doesn't mean they aren't prepared in everything else. Or someone could be going into fine arts, so their high school curriculum was focused on college prep in those areas. An engineering student might be way ahead in math and science, but lacks the ability to communicate coherently in writing. Should they be required to forestall entering college because they need help in one specific area? What about students who attend deficient city schools or tiny rural districts, where college prep courses aren't even available?

jafs 3 years ago

High schools should teach students what they need to learn in order to be prepared to go to college, if they want to do so.

If they're not doing that, they should be improved so that they do it.

chootspa 3 years ago

This bill isn't aimed at high schools. It's aimed at colleges. If nobody needed remedial math, they wouldn't offer the course. No legislation needed.

jafs 3 years ago

That's the whole point.

Instead of fixing the problem, which is that high schools aren't doing what they should be doing, colleges are making up for that.

I like to fix problems at the source instead - it seems simpler and better to me.

Tracy Rogers 3 years, 1 month ago

Hey Mikey, maybe just maybe the reason so many need remedial courses in college is because of all the cuts you've been making in K-12 funding. Did you ever stop to think about that?

Carol Bowen 3 years ago

. Some students are admitted to college with fourth grade math skills. Many of those students try very hard, but are unable to advance very far. It's very difficult to remediate that far back. There are lots of reasons students are behind - life events and sometimes the schools, or like Joplin, both. Half the students who start at the arithmetic level will pass on to beginning algebra. Half of those students will pass on to intermediate algebra. Half will pass college algebra. That's 6.25% of the students who started in arithmetic will pass college algebra. College algebra is the bottom line for most colleges. Most programs at KU require one more course.

This situation is discouraging for students and extremely challenging for colleges. Wouldn't it be better for students to have these courses available in a different setting - say adult education or community colleges? It's not unusual for students to take the ACT more than once. This would be a less stressful route and less expensive for the students and the state. We should be creating the most effective program for the students to succeed. I'm not convinced that means offering remedial courses at the universities.

streetman 3 years ago

I propose that there are some basic skills that one should master to even be allowed to graduate from high school. And mastering those skills would eliminate most of the need for idiotic "remedial" college courses. Whether a student doesn't master them because of poor schools or, more likely, lack of effort by the student and his/her parents, is a topic for another discussion; regardless, he she should get it corrected to get into college.

pace 3 years ago

from the same group of guys who while the support education, are cutting funds to education at all levels to pay for the tax cuts and loop holes to the wealthiest

classclown 3 years ago

Does this include athletes? Or do they make up the five percent?

Political 3 years ago

Speaker O'Neal is correct. Some of the comments here overlook what is probably more important than lack of mathematic skills; it is the inability of students to write well. Repreentative Mike Pompeo stated in a recent meeting with students that a big problem in his office is the time that has to be spent working with staff people who cannot write well. Of course, that applies to all fields of study and in all courses and not just in English courses.

Carol Bowen 3 years ago

Pace, Good point. If remedial courses are cut from the universities, there will be no increased funding for adult education or communities.

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