What the fuck, Kansas?

I really hope that the legislature in Kansas is ramping up for a big April Fools joke, because otherwise the shenanigans they’re pulling are the opposite of funny.

In a typical Math 002 class, you might find an 18-year-old freshman sitting next to a 35-year-old mother of two. The freshman might be there because he didn’t score very high on his ACT math section, and the mother because she is returning to school after years away. Both are there for the same reason: to learn the basic algebra necessary to qualify for Math 101, a class required to graduate from the University of Kansas.

Some lawmakers say those students should be working on their math skills elsewhere—at the state’s community colleges, not its universities.

To that end, a bill approved by the Kansas House and on its way to the Senate would bar state funding from going toward remedial courses at public universities.

Snip.

If Math 002 is eliminated, the roughly 900 students who take it every semester might have to straddle enrollment at both KU and a community college to get the help they need. That would “put a burden on students,” said Ingrid Peterson, director of the Kansas Algebra Program at KU.

You’re supposed to empower your citizenry!  That’s your job: to make our lives better!  That is your only fucking job!  Why make education harder?  What’s the point?  We’re already eating the dust of other civilized nations in the education department.  Do our legislators really look at America and say…

"If we just don't care if Americans are uneducated we can save all kinds of money! And probably get re-elected while we're at it."

“You know what wouldn’t help at all for securing a better future?  You know what investment wouldn’t have a positive affect on quite literally every problem facing us? ”

“What’s that?”

“Education.  What’s the point of an informed populace?”

This measure would really impact the non-traditional students (like me), who return to college after a few years in the work force (away from education, so they have time to forget things) to work for a better career.

To people like me, this is what the message from our leaders sounds like.

“Sorry we tanked the economy so that raising a family on entry level pay is tough.  What’s that?  You want to put in tons of your own effort to try and forge a better life for your kids rather than relying on the economy we fucked up?  Sorry, not gonna help you there.   Oh, you just want us to not make it more arduous to go back to school?  About that…”

Or, for the incoming students, how about…

“Oh, public education, for which our government has dedicated an entire department (what with it being the government’s responsibility and all) sucks so bad you need remedial courses in college?  Look kid, you think we became a politicians to be accountable to you guys?  Wait, you’re ok with us nixing funding for remedial courses after we fix public education?  Look, a career in fast food is just some people’s lot in life.  Remember to vote for me!”

Have academic standards, by all means.  But realize that some students, especially in the subject of math, are going to need extra help.  My brother, for instance, is a phenomenal writer (he’s in college for it now and has a stellar GPA) and, frankly, one of the more intelligent people I know.  His ability to write makes my most exceptional work look like it should’ve been written in crayon.  He also was in the army for five years before heading back to college.  That time away from academia didn’t help his math skills.

In college, honing his writing ability, is exactly where he needs to be.  However, he sucks at math.  He’s horrible at it.  This type of legislation impacts tons of people like him who may be brilliant at all manner of subjects, but who may still need tons of help in just one.  Keep your academic standards, but realize that not everybody is going to be great at every subject (or will have studied it recently).  In order for people like my brother to display their perspicacity with other subjects, they are expected to pass math.  Their inability to jump into collegiate algebra does not mean they are not academics or that they should be confined to a community college if they want to be a part of a particular well-respected university program.

Then again, after reading what’s going on in Kansas this week, I suspect their politicians probably do worry about the repercussions of an informed populace.

About JT Eberhard

When not defending the planet from inevitable apocalypse at the rotting hands of the undead, JT is a writer and public speaker about atheism, gay rights, and more. He spent two and a half years with the Secular Student Alliance as their first high school organizer. During that time he built the SSA’s high school program and oversaw the development of groups nationwide. JT is also the co-founder of the popular Skepticon conference and served as the events lead organizer during its first three years.


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