They Learnt Me Good!

Education in Tennessee: not so good:

The state Board of Regents says, statewide, nearly half of all college students and 70 percent of community college students require remedial work that costs the state $25 million dollars annually.

Bredesen says students who score poorly on the ACT college entrance exams should consider going to community colleges, rather than four-year schools that are more expensive for the state and where marginal students are much more likely to fail.

A study by the ACT concluded just 17 percent of Tennessee students meet the benchmarks for being ready for college classes.

This is hardly a problem unique to Tennessee, of course. All across America, high schools are churning out students that are hardly prepared for college. And while academic standards continue to decline, more and more students are enrolling in college than ever before. The recipe for disaster is obvious.

The key to improving our colleges, as I’ve always said, is to improve high schools. Thomas Nenson of the University of Memphis blames socioeconomic factors, a common culprit according to academics. I don’t doubt that there is some truth to this, but when an outright majority of graduates are not prepared for college, it is clear that socioeconomic factors are overemphasized as a cause of the problem.

The main causes are two things: poor education and the idea that everyone should go to college. The former is difficult to fix, as it goes back to parenting more than anything else. Effective parents will make sure that their children receive a quality education. Programs like vouchers that allow for more choices in education would clearly aid parents in doing this.

The second cause is more painful. The simple fact is that not everyone belongs in college. Now, it’s hard to tell a high school student they aren’t college material. But we all know that some are not. It makes little sense to spend public funds on students that have little to no chance of receiving a college degree. That might sound heartless, but deep down, everyone knows this. Some just try to deny it.

UPDATE: This post is taking part in the Beltway Traffic Jam.

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