At the community college where I teach—actually in the state capitol two hours away—a massive overhaul of the English curriculum is underway. As I understand it right now, a diagnostic test will determine student placement, and three levels of developmental reading and writing are being added for those with low scores. Those students will be taking nine credit hours, almost two hours a day five days a week, of developmental reading and writing.
Faculty members are groaning—two retired the week the changes were announced—but what I haven’t heard is anyone saying there isn’t a problem. I remember the essay, “In the Basement of the Ivory Tower” in The Atlantic in 2008, in which a professor claimed many of his students were close to being functionally illiterate.
The changes we are seeing at my school seem to indicate that it hasn’t gotten any better. Kids are coming out of high school without basic language skills.
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