De Anza derailed by developmental classes3 min read

La Voz Weekly

The cutting of classes is inevitable. As De Anza College fills with students, its classes fill as well. Heated debates fester in the wings, looming with metaphorical reapers, looking to bring an end to vital college programs.

Each quarter, classes such as EWRT 1A and statistics are inundated with registered and waitlisted students. Professors limit their class sizes, leaving those without early registration delayed in obtaining essential credit hours.

De Anza needs action. It can no longer cater to apathy.  This learning institution should play party with those who want to learn. With such a plan, developmental classes play a less significant role and their absence becomes vital toward truly higher education.

Developmental classes at De Anza are theoretically designed to improve students’ academics such that they meet the basic standards of a college freshman.  Subsequently, this means that the challenge of teaching that was placed at the secondary school level is now thrust upon community colleges.  

California set a goal in 2007 to cut the proportion of unprepared college students to 10 percent, reports the New York Times; the Golden State’s education system is nowhere close.

Because developmental classes at De Anza share resources with college-level courses, essential classes that students need to transfer become impacted. The money used for the lowest level developmental classes should be diverted toward classes worthy of the name “higher education.” 

The true issue with developmental classes isn’t their existence, but rather a student’s reason for enrollment. English-as-a-second-language students, as well as those suffering mental or learning differences, should be prioritized first for enrollment.  No empathy should exist for the couch potato who received D’s in high school.

When students don’t finish their requirements, they stay at De Anza longer. When students stay, space becomes scarce. This chain reaction results in De Anza not providing students the ability to move on with their educational careers at a respectable pace.

Downsizing the abundance of developmental classes offered through De Anza is the most viable solution. California allows anyone over the age of 18 to enroll in community colleges through the California Master Plan. Adopted in 1960, its purpose was to streamline college graduation rates at a time where the demand for a college education was booming. With an influx of people, it is time for new lines to be drawn.  De Anza needs to spearhead this movement away from an embracement of the apathetic to a celebration of those actually worthy of college.

Those who require developmental training after high school or through a variety of special circumstances should not be ignored.  However, the responsibility of educating them should be transferred to other educational services available. Adult education programs become the logical alternative; an improvement at the high school level would be the most prudent. Additionally, standards (reasonable standards) should be raised and met to graduate high school. All of these allow access to education to exist, but forces a student’s capacity to determine the path to it.

Moral questions of access to education versus equality in standards need to be addressed as well.

Michael W. Kirst, a Stanford professor, told the New York Times, “You can get into school, that’s not the problem. But you can’t succeed,” referring to unprepared students.

Success, not equality, is the most important byproduct of higher education. In constricting financial times, we must be efficient and ruthless in order to amass as much success for as many people as possible. Coupled with this achieving of aspirations will be a stronger, brighter workforce and a transition toward a more robust economy. 

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