EdMedia Commons Archive

Real Reform or ‘Behaviorist Claptrap’ at California’s Community Colleges?

The California Community Colleges Student Success Task Force this week released a set of recommendations “aimed at improving the educational outcomes of our students and the workforce preparedness of our state.”

Hechinger’s Joanne Jacobs points to a deeply critical take from Monterey Peninsula College English professor David Clemens, and highlights one of its many quotable lines: “Simply put, the reform scheme is pure behaviorist claptrap based on fictional students being taught in fictional ways by fictional teachers.”

Clemens continues, calling into question the premise of the task force itself:

 “A nearby community college offers 31 courses in Physics, Chemistry, Biology, and Astronomy combined. The same college offers 13 flavors of remedial English and over 200 courses in Art, PE, Physical Fitness, and Theatre Arts, most of them repeatable.  Cha-ching.  California Governor Jerry Brown, the once and future ‘Governor Moonbeam,’ complains that only 25% of community college students ever earn a degree.  Is that educational failure, as he implies?  Is it mission failure?  Or is it because so many students aren’t there for college at all?”

The disagreement gets to the core of the ongoing question of what a community college’s mission should be: A bridge to a 4-year university? A training ground for vocational workers? A place for your mom to take a pottery course? More to the point, do you think Clemens is fair in his assessment of the task force recommendations?

This post originally appeared on EWA’s now-defunct online community, EdMedia Commons. Old content from EMC will appear in the Ed Beat archives.