Oklahoma City - The principal authors of a state bill to ban remediation at Oklahoma's two premier universities today called it "tragic and appalling" that opponents of the measure apparently have little interest in stemming the state's alarming remediation rate.
The remarks by state Representative Carolyn Coleman, R-Moore, and State Senator Kathleen Wilcoxson, R-OKC, came amid attacks from Senator Keith Leftwich (D-Oklahoma City) that House Bill 1710 would cripple sports programs at the University of Oklahoma and Oklahoma State University.
"It is a shame my Senate colleague's statements solidify the perception that college athletes are not capable of university work," Wilcoxson said.
"I have a suspicion that even the senator would agree that athletes deserve a first-rate education. The fact of the matter is that remediation is not the mission of either OU or OSU. As long as high schools graduate students who are not prepared for the rigors of college and universities admit unprepared college students, we continue to do a disservice to our young people."
Coleman pointed out that an amended bill includes language that would allow OU and OSU to contract with two-year colleges to provide remedial classes.
"It is imperative for us as Oklahomans to take a stand and recognize that college remediation implicitly tells our high schools and middle schools that mediocre instruction is OK, that we'll take care of their failings," Coleman said.
"Well, it's not OK. After 12 years of schooling, our young people deserve to have the skills they need for whatever endeavor they choose."
Wilcoxson added that Oklahoma's community colleges are more equipped to handle remedial classes. In fact, one of their missions is to provide programs for students who lack basic academic skills.
"In the case of OU and OSU, the so-called "safety net" of remediation has turned into nothing short of a pass for common education to keep from doing its job. 55% of our State Budget goes to Education yet nearly 40 percent of Oklahoma's incoming college students are enrolling in some form of remediation. That is a disgrace, but it's also a wake-up call for us that something must be done to provide high school students with a more rigorous and challenging curriculum.
Both Coleman and Wilcoxson urged the Senate Democratic leadership to hear HB 1710 this legislative session.