College Education?

by John Lockman

Recently in a second level English composition course, the instructor reprimanded a student for citing Animal Farm because the "rule" for the class forbade citing texts that were not part of the reading assignment. The student mentioned the classic written by Orwell only after the class analyzed an essay about Orwell. The class format appeared even more peculiar when, later in the term, the instructor asked the class if anyone had heard of Sigmund Freud – to which no one responded until one student meekly asked "Didn't he have something to do with existentialism?" This same instructor corrected the student by claiming that was Descartes. Not only did the instructor violate the ludicrous rule, but was incorrect as well. The instructor did not respond to an inquiry about the claim.

In this same class, students whose writing would scarcely pass as literate - often for whom English was a second language in development - were pushed along with passing grades. On the last week of class, no instruction was offered; the instructor simply gave a well-rehearsed speech assuring everyone they had passed, even those whose English was severely deficient. The instructor assured everyone that they all had great potential, even after scathing comments adorned many students' writing assignments, without any words of encouragement or constructive criticism. The speech was carefully placed, prior to sitting the class down at a computer lab for an on-line class evaluation.

I have been informed by an anonymous former college instructor that the administration is severely averse to instructors' failing students because of Full Time Reimbursements or "FTRs." Do these students, challenged with severe limitations due to a host of reasons, benefit in the least from being pushed along?

Add to this the fact that not one calculus class was offered at the college for the 2010-2011 calendar year. Calculus is taught at the local high schools and appears on the schedule of every other accredited community college in Oregon for the 2010-2011 calendar year. Yet local engineers at Insitu, Inc. all agree that this class must be mastered before pursuing an engineering degree and many career positions at the unmanned aerial vehicles manufacturer here in The Gorge. Furthermore, with the technological demands of our society requiring knowledge of higher math and the global competition of nations that makes calculus compulsory in high school, one can only wonder what exactly is going on at Columbia Gorge Community College.

After opening its The Dalles, Oregon campus in 2006, Google employs over 200 people in The Gorge. Google's servers use the Linux operating system, and all employees I have asked agree that knowledge of Linux (an open-source type of Unix developed by Bell Labs in the early 70's) is essential for employment. Not one class in Unix or Linux is offered at the college for the 2010-2011 schedule.

Many students have taken loans to assist with tuition at Columbia Gorge Community College, but have no idea that a better education is available at local high schools. Other clueless high school students insist on bypassing the local high school, opting for worthless college credits that will have limited transfer value at a four-year college or university.

It is no secret that the American education system is in shambles. But few realize how badly the career needs of the community are failing to be addressed by the Columbia Gorge Community College. Until the administration wakes up and meets these demands, it is inconceivable to reward this arrogance with independent accreditation from Portland Community College.



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