In a recent letter to the editor in the New York Times, Chancellor Zimpher explains her view on the current discussion of remedial education and her support of President Obama.
To the Editor:
“A Better Chance to Succeed” (editorial, March 3) calls for less reliance on remedial education at the college level, but it is shortsighted to place that responsibility solely on the shoulders of community colleges. Instead, we should recognize the need for partnership between K-12 and higher education.
In January, the State University of New York announced its commitment to using this cradle-to-career approach in closing the remediation gap, which costs our community colleges $70 million a year. This means working together to eliminate the need for remediation before students even arrive at one of our campuses.
Communities must join forces to strengthen the curriculum, evaluate proficiency earlier and address those weaknesses with new programs like “summer boot camp.” Once students are enrolled and truly in need of remediation, we will work to achieve the best possible results by improving student advising, standardizing placement policies across the system, and carrying out best practices in enabling students to achieve the skills they need.
And we would be remiss as a public university not to address the financial burden remediation places on students. Twenty percent — or $93 million — of financial aid awarded to our community college students goes toward remedial classes. Re-evaluating existing student aid programs, expanding educational opportunity programs and ensuring cost-effective delivery of remedial courses is a top priority for those carrying out remediation reforms.
All this is to say that President Obama has got it right. Community colleges are indeed perfectly positioned to prepare America’s work force for the newly competitive job market of a global economy. By working within partnerships that span the education pipeline, SUNY stands ready to use its “systemness” in taking that commitment to scale.
NANCY L. ZIMPHER
State University of New York
Albany, March 3, 2012