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Archive for Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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

February 29, 2012

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— 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?"

Comments

Carol Bowen 2 years, 1 month 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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Political 2 years, 1 month 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.

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classclown 2 years, 1 month ago

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

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pace 2 years, 1 month 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

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streetman 2 years, 1 month 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.

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Carol Bowen 2 years, 1 month 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.

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Tracy Rogers 2 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?

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deec 2 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?

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JackMcKee 2 years, 1 month ago

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

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Bob Forer 2 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.

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werekoala 2 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.

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Patricia Davis 2 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.

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jayhawklawrence 2 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.

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autie 2 years, 1 month ago

Reagents: a substance that, because of the reactions it causes, is used in analysis and synthesis. Appropriations orginate in committee. Request are submitted by the Boad.

Yup...some slip under the bar, not over it.

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William Weissbeck 2 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.

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streetman 2 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."

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usnsnp 2 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.

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nativeson 2 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.

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tolawdjk 2 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.

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tolawdjk 2 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.

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rockchalk1977 2 years, 1 month ago

I agree with Speaker O'Neal on this one. If government high schools were doing their job properly, students wouldn't need remedial course work in college. Hope & change!

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Jan Rolls 2 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.

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mustrun80 2 years, 1 month ago

Brownie is committing war crimes against the state.

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toe 2 years, 1 month ago

This sort of meddling in education would be moot if students paid the full cost of education. Schools tuition should cover full cost of their education. Problem solved.

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Getaroom 2 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.

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Onlyifitsadryshelter 2 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.

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Onlyifitsadryshelter 2 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.

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Onlyifitsadryshelter 2 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.

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somedude20 2 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

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mustrun80 2 years, 1 month ago

What a fascist man. Did he not hear The Obama tell everyone that EVERYBODY in society should go to college? Clearly if you disagree with that you hate minorities.

Stopping half of those who fall below admission standards? Uhh, those aren't standards then. Good lord, getting into KU (the "best") state school in KS is unbelievably easy. If you can't meet their "standards" you absolutely should go to a community college, or (GASP) trade school first.

I know I know, to say such a thing is racist, sexist, fascist, etc..........

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guesswho 2 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?

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BABBOY 2 years, 1 month ago

Yeah, O'Neal likes stupid voters. So, what do you expect? Remember his email, he is no Einstein either. The Dude is trying to close schools in the public school system so this is not surprising. He could care less about schools and just sees them as a tax burden.

He put this dog of bill in the same committee that has losers like Anthony Brown and Virgil Peck. You bet those jerk offs will support it.

Of note, Lana Gordon is not a moderate and usually votes the party line. If O'Neil can not get a loyal republican like her to support this ignorance, than this thing will die in the Senate (Senate has more reason and moderate members). The House and its on going tea party is dumb enough to pass this thing.

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chootspa 2 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.

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