Last month Education Reform Now released their report “No Commencement for the Commonwealth” and as usual in the world of public education — the news is not good for black or latino families in Massachusetts.
(This was a perfect cover, because reading yet another analysis about how the system is screwing my kids gave me a damn headache.)
So as a parent, naturally I’ve got questions. A LOT of questions.
With all the controversy over the last several weeks about the UMass system’s easier acceptance process for out of state students than our own Commonwealth kids — I’m confused about who our higher education system is supposed to serve in the first place? And with this new data, it doesn’t seem like kids like mine even have a shot. What are we doing about this?
I mean, why do we even have a public higher education system if it’s not to provide higher education to the children of the Commonwealth, first and foremost, given that the system is subsidized by the taxpayers of Massachusetts? Why am I paying for *another* system that serves some kids well while mine get screwed?
And while I know we have major problems in our K-12 system, finding out we have significant problems with our higher education system in Massachusetts — especially with black and latino students — doesn’t come as a major surprise.
But why isn’t anyone really talking about it?
Why don’t our public colleges and universities have an obligation to address the degree completion crisis we see in the black and latino communities?
What are community colleges and the UMass system doing to actually get these students to the finish line?
Instead of just throwing up their hands and whining about how, “These kids aren’t ready for us!” shouldn’t our higher education system be actively helping to address the issue from their perspective as well?
Usually, the only thing we really hear from our elected officials around higher education is the need to address the “student loan debt” crisis — without addressing issues including the fact that black and latino children, often having been stuck in schools that are underperforming and struggling with the achievement gap, then get shafted AGAIN by paying for additional semesters of remedial courses in the core requisite subjects — adding to their overall bill and making the likelihood of completion even less.
It’s like we can’t find a way to stop screwing black and latino families until the minute they leave the public system.
(I stole this graph from Education Reform Now.)
(This one too.)
Not to mention the fact that UMass system doesn’t even have a universal credit evaluation system for kids earning credit through early college and AP exams (and by the way, according to the report, latino kids are half as likely to even take an AP exam) — let alone a plan to revamp the remedial course program to address the needs of black and latino kids who have been failed by the K-12 system.
It’s just a tragic case of “Who’s on First” with our children stuck in the middle.
And by the way, higher ed folks — you’re also turning me into a liar. You see, parents like me tell our children that if they do the right things and graduate high school, they’ll be ready for success in college — ready to compete in the global economy and have access to a brighter future. Clearly that’s not the case.
The Massachusetts higher education system has been able to remain relatively under the radar when it comes to addressing inequities — but the time has come to start asking these folks to start taking some responsibility and stepping up to the plate.
So where you at, Massachusetts higher ed? Education Reform Now has some suggestions:
Let’s look at these and hear your ideas, too. But the bottom line is this: We’re not letting you off the hook.