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Some college athletes play like adults, read like 5th-graders


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Some college athletes play like adults, read like 5th-graders

 

 

(CNN) -- Early in her career as a learning specialist, Mary Willingham was in her office when a basketball player at the University of North Carolina walked in looking for help with his classwork.

 

He couldn't read or write.

 

"And I kind of panicked. What do you do with that?" she said, recalling the meeting.

Willingham's job was to help athletes who weren't quite ready academically for the work required at UNC at Chapel Hill, one of the country's top public universities.

 

But she was shocked that one couldn't read. And then she found he was not an anomaly.

Soon, she'd meet a student-athlete who couldn't read multisyllabic words. She had to teach him to sound out Wis-con-sin, as kids do in elementary school.

 

And then another came with this request: "If I could teach him to read well enough so he could read about himself in the news, because that was something really important to him," Willingham said.

 

Student-athletes who can't read well, but play in the money-making collegiate sports of football and basketball, are not a new phenomenon, and they certainly aren't found only at UNC-Chapel Hill.

 


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Actually, not only is this nothing new, it is not just athletes who cannot read.

 

Our area is home to a major University and a Community College that has now grown into a four year degree school.

 

When my oldest daughter was in 11th grade she entered a "dual enrollment" program where she attended the Community College for her courses - she no longer went to her High School.

 

They looked at her records before allowing the dual enrollment to make sure she could read - they even checked to make sure she could read. We were told that about 90% of all incoming students need "remedial reading" and "remedial math" before they can take actual college level courses. Keep in mind, they were talking about incoming HS graduates, not dual enrollees. In fact, most of the dual enrolled HS students in their program were at least one or more years ahead of the incoming graduates.

 

We have a local Brother who is a college professor and he says the same is true at the college - and, like the one in Chapel Hill, the one here is a MAJOR college with very high profile sports teams.

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Yes, I remember a statistic a few years ago that gave the number of students graduating from high school that year that could not read their diplomas! The number was in the thousands! One of the problems is many school boards say that schools can no longer "fail" a student and keep them behind because it's bad for their self-esteem. We must be politically correct! 

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Shocking, really surprising for me.  I teach English language over here in France but mostly work in the private school system.  To hear these things coming from a developed country is so surprising for me...France has a good school system and yes, if you fail your classes you have to repeat the year until you get it right. 

 

Still that said, when I complain to French teachers that students can't understand when I explain English grammar rules they explain that those same students can't write well in their own language either.  But being in college and not knowing how to read AT ALL  is just... well shocking. 

Edited by sunshine
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