Wednesday, November 26, 2008
Portland Community College: What a racket!
My wife, Maty, is an immigrant from Burkina Faso. She is currently working as a nursing assistant and studying to obtain certification from the Oregon State Board of Nursing. The course required for certification is challenging: there is a lot of study of anatomy and medical terminology and procedure. It is doubly hard for Maty, since she must study in English which is not her first (or even second or third) language. Maty speaks four languages.
Maty, like most immigrants is not afraid of hard work and she is a very determined woman. So, despite the daunting challenges involved, last summer she enrolled in a Certified Nursing Assistant course at Portland Community College (PCC). The classes are always full, and one has to enroll right away to be sure to have a seat.
Well, let no one say that the sharks at PCC don't know how to leverage a legitimate community need to squeeze money out of the local populace that they supposedly serve.
The classes are so crowded that there is no individual instruction. There are lectures. Period. Students are constantly reminded that they are lucky to have been included in the class and the instructors pedagogical techniques are heavy-handed, to say the least. While she was enrolled in the class, Maty was informed that missing a class, regardless of the reason, would require that she attend a make-up session at a cost of $79. This, of course, was in addition to the $650 tuition fee. As a result, Maty attended one session while she was suffering a fever and severe headache. I took her to the doctor immediately after class, where she was diagnosed with streptococcal pharyngitis (strep throat). She suffered through a day long class session because she felt we couldn't afford the 79 bucks for the make-up class!
After two weeks of classes, the instructors administered a preliminary competence exam. Maty had been studying diligently and doing her very best. But she did not score high enough on the test and was expelled from the class. It was a terrible emotional blow to her.
Well, just to add insult to injury, we are now receiving threatening letters from PCC, demanding that we pay the $650 tuition. Got that? They want us to pay for a class from which they expelled my wife! I called to talk to them, because I do feel that we should pay for the first couple weeks of the class. It is reasonable. But I'll be damned if we're going to pay full price for an inferior class, with inferior instructors that could not be bothered to help their students succeed.
As proof that Maty, given halfway decent instruction, could succeed, she has since passed a certification course at another institution, which provided the instruction for free on condition that she work there for 6 months.
Earlier this month, I cast what I believed to be a principled vote in favor of Measure 26-95 which will issue bonds to expand and update PCC's "educational facilities." Now I feel like a sucker.
Well, dear reader, here's my take: Don't suffer under the illusion that Portland Community College exists to serve the community. Like any other parasitic entity, it is interested in sustaining itself, growing, leeching off its host.
What a racket!