Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Saying Goodbye to Stupid or How a College Adjunct Got Religion
December 17, 2013 was the day I said goodbye to stupid. I walked out of Kishwaukee College in Malta after a semester of harassment and dealing with students who could give a shit about education.
One of my English Composition I classes at Kish was a late start class, meaning it began on September 23rd rather than August 29th. Only ten out of twenty-two students showed up the first day. "What's going on?" I thought to myself.
Two weeks later three students were standing outside of my classroom as I walked in the door. "Are you Mr. Wyman?" one of them asked.
"Yes I am," I replied.
"I'm ______ ______, and I'm in your English class," one of the students said. The other two also introduced themselves.
"No, you're not in my class," I replied. "We started class two weeks ago, and the students have done five writing assignments. You'll never catch up! Where were you?"
"I had some business to take care of in the city," one of the students said.
Yeah, sure you did! I had heard the stories of Chicago Public School students showing up for class in late September and the CPS push to cajole parents into getting their kids show up the day after Labor day (the traditional first day of school in the city), but this was the first time I had seen this debacle live.
There was a student in my other comp. class who, according to his classmates, showed up to class every day reeking of marijuana. The class met at 2:00 p.m. I had allowed the young man to enroll in the class at the beginning of the semester even though the class was full.
When it came time for the argumentative paper--the last major essay in the class--the student plagiarized the paper from the internet. I had been reading his papers all semester so the difference between his argumentative paper and the other papers he had written was glaring. I found the paper he plagiarized on the internet in five minutes. I told him he was going to fail the class.
However, the student went to the dean, persuaded the dean to give him a medical withdrawal, and the student withdrew from the class with a full refund.
Take that, Wyman! You lose, big boy!
Then there was the student in my journalism class at Kish who went to the dean and claimed I had made racist comments about him and that I had censored his newspaper stories. The student had left us in the lurch by not completing two stories for the first issue of the school newspaper. He and the editor-in-chief, the only carry-over from a train wreck of a prior newspaper staff that simply printed college press releases the previous year, had attempted to turn the new newspaper students against me.
I laughed at him. . . . at first.
The dean who had hired me at Kish was on maternity leave so I had to deal with another dean who took the Hispanic student's charges seriously. All I could think of as I sat for hours in this stupid dean's office for hours was how Fremd principal Tom Howard would have thrown the kid out of his office if this had happened at Fremd High School.
But this was not Fremd. This was the new world of education where students have been empowered to make-up accusations against teachers, and deans and department chairs back the students against the teachers. The teachers are wrong; the students are right in this new world!
It's enough to make a teacher pick up his ball and go home. And that's what I did!
This wasn't the first time Wyman got in hot water teaching college. At Dominican University, one of my students wrote on my evaluation, "He told us we were dumber than his community college students."
When the English Department chair at Dominican was prodded by the dean to confront me on the student's comment, I told him it was true.
The chairman said, "Mr. Wyman, we are admitting students from Chicago into Dominican who have scores of 11 on their ACT tests. These students don't need to be told they are stupid."
I guess they already know, I thought to myself.
Imagine, students going to college with an ACT score of 11! Dominican has little remediation for these students, and from what I could see the college is passing them right through the English courses. Heck, the football players at Miami have to have a score of 16 on the ACT.
This wasn't the same Dominican my mom had attended in 1929. "We are a Hispanic serving institution!" the dept. chair said proudly.
Pick up your ball, Jim, and go home.
Colleges like Kishwaukee, Dominican, and Monmouth College are struggling to find warm bodies to fill their desks. Enrollment has dropped so the schools are actively recruiting students from the City of Chicago. Lowering standards is the rule these days. I had students at Monmouth who scored 32 on the ACT and others with 12s. Imagine teaching students in that wide a range.
I had one student at Monmouth who would come in for extra writing help. "You wouldn't believe how bad it is in Chicago schools, Mr. Wyman," he told me. I believe it now, Ozzie!
So I'm sitting here on this cold late spring day getting all my frustration out and wondering what the hell I'm going to do with myself. The radio station gig doing basketball games in Galesburg ran out last week, and I don't think there's anyone pregnant at Fremd so I can't do a maternity leave.
I guess I'll just blog.
But here's a warning to all of you teachers. Be careful what you do and say in the classroom. The world of education is far different in 2014 than it was 30 or 40 years ago.
Stupid has won!