No one wants to see austerity measures imposed, but the governor and the CSU system might consider this an opportunity to trim the fat from a very specific source. Remedial classes should be eliminated, beginning in 2009.
What is a remedial class? A remedial class is a high school English or math class offered to CSU students in their freshman year of college. Any student who does not pass a CSU basic English and/or math exam, or have a high enough score on a substitute standardized test, must take a remediation class.
If recent years are any guide, eliminating remedial classes and denying admission to students who need remediation would impact well over 50% of prospective freshmen next year. (Typically, nearly 60% of matriculants to the CSU's, must take a remedial math and/or English class, during freshman year, as a condition of admission). By sending a message to students and their high schools that only students who are capable of handling college work will be permitted to enroll, CSU will spur those parties to get better prepared.
In addition to insuring that students enrolling in CSU programs are prepared to do college work from day one, eliminating remedial courses will save CSU a great deal of money.
According to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2004, remedial classes cost CSU $10 million annually. In 2000, CSU announced a plan to cut the number of students needing remediation to 10% by 2007. Had that goal been reached or even approached, CSU could have saved many millions of dollars already.
Whatever the reason that so many students aren't ready for college, the problem is that CSU accepts them anyway. CSU then offers the remedial non-credit high school classes, at great expense to both the universities and students. Students needing remediation are also those students most likely not to graduate and thereby indirectly cost CSU even more dollars in wasted efforts.
Although no one is happy that CSU is under the fiscal gun, this can be a time of opportunity for that system to get back on track by eliminating remedial classes.