I think a lot every day about what the proactive solution is to the problems I see in my job. I don't feel ready to go to the mattresses about it, mostly because it would put the facility where I work under scruntiny. And the academic counselors at the University are not the problem. In the academic support services, I think we try our best to solve these problems. The students show up here with attitudes and lack of preparedness. Whether they belong in college, whether they are prepared for college is irrelevant to us. They are here and we have to help them.
I spend 20 hours every week walking these students through assignments that take the typical freshman under 15 minutes. Extra credit worksheets, film reviews, free-verse poems...these all take my students multiple hours of intense concentration. The problem starts not with the NCAA but far earlier, when these folks are crammed into 35+ student classrooms where teachers replace education with behavior management.
I watched this season's THE WIRE in its entirety and it made me physically sick. The athletically gifted students I work with on a daily basis are fortunate in that they have individual tutoring to catch them up. For each one of my students, 1,000 students with the same lack of educational foundation lingers behind to follow a perpetual circle of poor education leading to crappy jobs leading to low-income poverty conditions which create home environments unproductive for their children's education. I don't even know what to do.
I wrote several papers about my work last year but have been reticent to submit them to journals or publications. After I read "The Ballad of Big Mike" in the New York Times two weeks ago, I was irate. The story of Mike is the story of each of my students. The New York Times dropped the tale when Mike arrives at Ole Miss, places him in the hands of tutors like me and leads the public to believe he is ok now because he is in college. Perhaps after graduation I will pick up the story of Big Mike and follow him around to math class and show how decidedly not ok he is once he hits the world of higher education.