The state is working at cross purposes when it changes community college funding structures (“College funding tied to results,” Page A1, Aug. 12) without adjusting related policies in the Department of Transitional Assistance. Linking funding to completed, rather than attempted, credits rewards success for schools whose students have the freedom to choose course loads that dovetail reasonably with work and family responsibilities. Yet some students are denied that choice.
Students coming to school to work themselves off of transitional assistance — something the public would like to see happen — are eligible for day care, transportation, and other types of support if they enroll full time. Yet the best advice I can give an underprepared mother who is returning to school after years away, juggling child care, transportation, and a part-time job, is to begin part time, take a few classes, and do well in those few, building academic skills a step at a time.
Such a student cannot reasonably be expected to immediately handle the same course load as an 18-year-old without children living in a dormitory with cafeteria food. So some students take too many courses, and fail some. If the Department of Transitional Assistance would provide logistical support for part-time study, there would be gains in student success. If we really want to support the success agenda, we need to put all the pieces in place.
The writer is a professor of English for speakers of other languages at Roxbury Community College.