Throwing stones in glass houses at UNC

uncchA group of retired UNC faculty members has gone public to criticize their former colleagues for not getting in the face of the administration for allowing UNC athletes to be “exploited”:

More than 30 retired faculty are challenging their colleagues at UNC-Chapel Hill to seek answers from the administration about how a long-running academic fraud began and continued to run unchecked for more than a decade.

The retired faculty members include prominent scholars such as history professor William E. Leuchtenburg and religious studies professor Ruel Tyson. In a letter to be published in Friday’s News & Observer, they say the current faculty has been too quiet about the scandal, allowing the administration to engage in failed “public relations” strategies that have so far avoided key questions such as, “(To) what degree and how detrimentally have athletes in revenue sports been exploited, and in what ways have they been neglected or betrayed as students?”

Neglected? Betrayed?  Wow.  Everybody who enrolls at UNC has a high school diploma.  One of the things that came out of the UNC academic scandal was athletes reading at a third grade level.  Why aren’t we raising a fuss about the K-12 public school system that allowed these individuals to GRADUATE while reading at a third grade level?

What about faculty members, pulling in taxpayer-supplied six figure salaries at a state university, passing off coursework in “comparative queer politics” and “the black experience”, “American Indian and Indigenous Studies” and “poverty studies”  as essential to students becoming well-rounded, productive members of society and contributors to the economy? Encouraging students to forego stuff that might actually help them get a job, like business administration for instance, and steering them toward liberal gobbledygook — does that count as neglecting and betraying students?

Talk about a scam! I’d be ashamed to take money from the taxpayers to peddle that nonsense.  Much of the scandal at UNC focuses on athletes being steered toward courses that have little to no merit or coursework. In other words — Easy ‘A’ s.  It ought to concern some of these faculty members that the courses they are teaching are widely viewed as Easy A jokes. 

As I’ve noted previously, I teach business courses at the college level.  I see first-hand the end products of the K-12 system. The typical recent high school grad has critical thinking and writing skills teetering somewhere between non-existent and atrocious.  I get assignments turned in from students that contain texting shorthand.  (Actual example: I lol re Smiths comments n the article.  Lets face it. U R what U R.)  

For those of you not familiar with contemporary texting lingo, I’ll offer a translation:  “I laughed out loud when I read Smith’s comments in the article.  Let’s face it. You are what you are.”

On one occasion, I had a star basketball player, right out of high school, register for one of my courses.  An assistant coach from a major athletic program in the region stopped by to see me after the first class.  Apparently, this athletic program was very interested in getting this kid into their school.  They were running him through our smaller college first, to see if he could get his grades up.  (If the coach was seeking an easy A for this kid, he messed up putting him in my class.  From what I read on those rate-your-professor web sites, I am the furthest thing from an Easy A.) 

I began to notice that this student’s reading and writing skills were, um, “lacking.”  He struggled to read case studies aloud in class.  His writing looked like something you’d see from a first-grader or a foreigner just learning English.  How did he get a high school diploma?  If he had no basketball talent, how could he possibly survive four years of college? How could you expect him — with this skill level — to successfully obtain a degree and become a productive member of society?

At the collegiate level, I can’t do much with him if he never mastered skills that he should have by third grade.  The K-12 system needs to bear some responsibility for this kid and the many others like him passing through their doors and leaving with diplomas they can barely read. 

Be careful throwing around accusations of “exploiting” students for your own selfish, personal gain.  Ignoring the fact that your star player — who helps sell tons of tickets — can barely read and write is just as bad as accepting a big government salary for passing off liberal gobbledygook as an important academic pursuit. At least the athletic department is giving these kids something that they can utilize for their benefit after college.