Mary Mitchell of the Sun-Times had some strong words in her column today about a proposal to end the City Colleges of Chicago's open admissions policy. Gery Chico, the president of the city colleges's Board of Trustees, recently floated the idea and Mayor Richard Daley subsequently gave it his endorsement. They claim providing open admissions to remedial education courses costs the city colleges too much -- $30 million annually -- and want to send students in need of these classes to alternative high schools.
Mitchell, herself a former community college student, sees the pitch as tantamount to "tearing students down" who are seeking basic writing, math, and reading skills they didn't get while attending the Chicago Public Schools. Closing the door to students would have a chilling effect, she writes:
The end of open admissions would mean that many of these students could end up being denied access to higher education. If that is our intent, then things are going to get a lot worse before they get better.
Of course, Mayor Daley has run CPS since 1995. Chico was his first pick to head the Board of Education and the mayor renewed Chico's term as board president in 1999. It's more than a little ironic that both men now want to cut off ill-prepared CPS graduates (or dropouts) who want to obtain more skills from institutions that have historically accepted all comers.