Friday Reading List: The Great Remedial Scam & Credit Where Credit is Due

Meredith Kolodner, Brad Racino, and Brandon Quester at The Hechinger Report took a hard look at how students are separated in community colleges:

A Hechinger Report/inewsource analysis of California community college data yielded stark results. Only 1 percent of African-American students and 2 percent of Latino students who enrolled in the lowest level of remedial math in 2014 made it through an entry-level college math class within two years (the amount of time it’s supposed to take to earn a full associate’s degree). At many community colleges, a student can start four levels below college level, which means they must pass four math or English classes before they are allowed to attempt a class that earns them credit toward a bachelor’s degree. Although whites and Asians also have poor pass rates in these low-level remedial classes, the inewsource/Hechinger Report analysis found that Latino students are twice as likely as whites to end up in the lowest level of remedial English. African-American students are five times as likely. And in math, the situation is even worse.

The authors go on to explore the reason for this disparate treatment, and they point out that students who enter credit-bearing courses are much more likely to graduate, whatever their level of pre-college preparation. Remedial courses bring lots of money into community colleges, while delivering little in terms of educational results to their enrollees. The students with the least information and preparation are the most susceptible to being scammed.

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Kashana Cauley is in The New York Times, reflecting on the Tuesday vote in Alabama:

Most of Alabama’s white voters did choose Mr. Moore, either despite or because of his support for slavery, the allegations that he had sexually assaulted girls as young as 14 and the fact that he was twice removed as a justice on the state supreme court for disobeying court orders. Alabama’s black voters overwhelmingly chose Mr. Jones, despite numerous obstacles placed in front of them. The voter ID bill, passed in 2011 to undermine “the black power structure,” as a lawmaker had described it, has an outsize impact on black and Latino voters because they are less likely to have the financial resources (for transportation and a fee) and get time off from work to get an ID. Yesterday some black voters reportedly received text messages that told them to report to the wrong polling places.

I appreciate that Cauley highlights both the massive racial differential in electoral preferences, and the radically different obstacles to voting present for black voters. I wrote a little twitter thread on this topic, and the upshot seems to be that the Democratic party should invest way more resources in the leadership of its black members, especially in places where those members constitute such a lopsided proportion of its loyal voters. Despite the obviousness of this, the party often balks at deploying resources in this particular manner because ...

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Anyway, while the American left was thanking black women for their role in Tuesday's electoral win, Brittany Packnett took to The Cut to explain how to put one's money where one's mouth is:

On Wednesday morning, the media erupted with calls of “Thank you!” to Black women for showing up. But as Kamala Harris said, we need to do more than congratulate them. “Let’s address issues that disproportionately affect Black women—like pay disparity, housing & under-representation in elected office,” she tweeted. ‘Tis the season, after all, and supporting black women should be at the top of your list. There are many organizations and causes that could use our support. Give because our power has been proven time and again — despite movements silencing us, funders forgetting us, and voter suppression restricting us. Give because Black women show up to save the country time and again. Here are a few ways you can help.

Packnett shares a trove of resources, including links to organizations that support the leadership of black women. If you're in the holiday spirit, feel free to make some generous donations!

Have a great weekend!