Tuesday, March 02, 2010

You want credits with that? 

Via James Taranto, here's a story that should surprise me, but doesn't.
San Francisco high school students, just months out of middle school, can start earning San Francisco State college credit this fall through a ninth-grade ethnic studies course.

At a school board meeting last week, the head of the university's Ethnic Studies program also promised that students would earn up to six college course credits for the high school freshman course - a rare opportunity for a 14-year-old.

The courses will become part of the California State University's Step to College program, which has offered college credit for high school students across the state since 1985. Most of those courses require students to be juniors or seniors.

The program is designed for students who might not otherwise be considering college as an option, said Jacob Perea, dean of the School of Education, who runs the Step to College program at San Francisco State.

"We're not really looking for the 4.4 (grade point average) students," he said. "We're looking for the 2.1 or 2.2 students."

The course is taught as pass/drop -- if you don't look like you'll pass the class, you are withdrawn from the class. I wonder if it appears on the transcript if you are withdrawn?
The ethnic studies course "encourages students to explore specific aspects of identity on personal, interpersonal and institutional levels and provides students with interdisciplinary reading, writing and analytical skills," district officials said in a news release about the expanded pilot program.
The students interviewed here appear to be minority students. My question is whether this class is intended for students of pallor? When you say a class is "designed for students who might not otherwise be considering college as an option," is that somehow a code for trying to draw minority students to university through a head start of six college credits? And the low GPA target is even more bizarre, as if the designers wanted to twit the concept of "the soft bigotry of low expectations." If this story of this teacher-in-training is any indication, I think a 9th grader could figure out how to pass the class:
I went to a neighborhood party last night and talked with a 50-year-old woman who is preparing to reenter the workforce after rearing three children and two step-children. She has always loved English ... and is getting a master�s degree in teaching English so that she can look for a union/government job as a high school English teacher. She is required to take only six classes over one year to get her degree. One required course out of the six is called �diversity�. She is not doing well in the class. �We aren�t learning any specific techniques that could help us teach people of different races or backgrounds. There is only one correct answer to every question posed by the professor and at first I wasn�t giving it. The professor was pigeonholing me as an �old white woman� who couldn�t adapt, but eventually I figured out what was expected and now I�m saying stuff that I don�t believe just so that I can get a good grade in the class.�
If a 50-year-old can figure out what the magic words are to pass a class, I bet the 14-year-old can too.