CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) — Developmental college courses for students who need a boost are the equivalent of second chances baseball batters get after missing the first pitch.
That’s the rationale with which Dr. Fred Obear, chancellor of the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga, defends the efforts of colleges to help students get up to speed in some subjects.
A ‘strike one and you’re out’ rule would have kept many future stars on the bench forever, Obear wrote in a commentary published by the Omaha World-Herald.
“Such a policy would deny so many the chance to be productive players. Why would we want to encourage that practice in education, where the stakes and the potential are so very much higher?” he wrote.
Developmental courses are described as refreshers for students who may have forgotten some of what they learned in high school.
Obear said college students often need a developmental course because of inadequate high school curriculum and standards, lack of parental support, and students’ laziness or shortsightedness.
“That every high school graduate be fully prepared for college study is a noble goal…not fully attainable, not as long as fallible adults and children are involved,” Obear wrote.
“What, then, will happen to those who aspire, later in the game of life, to a college education and to the personal and economic rewards it can bring? Do we wrap ourselves in 19th century standards and social castes and say, ‘Tough luck, kid, you had your swing at the ball.”‘
Some students will fail regardless of the opportunities placed before them, but many more “cherish the second chances that college and this nation give them,” Obear said.
“Within a short time, they progress to degree-creditable courses and more rigorous programs of study. They become students of advanced and specialized knowledge; they earn degrees; they become more productive and involved citizens, parents and taxpayers.”
Students needing developmental courses are “not stupid, they’re just rusty,” said Bob Levy, UT associate senior vice president.
Contact: Dr. Fred Obear (423-755-4141)