By Dave Matlow
David Levinson: facing 21st century educational dilemma. (CLICK TO ENLARGE) Dave Matlow for WestportNow.com
Westporter David Levinson knows first hand what happens when schools don’t adequately prepare their students for college.
As president of Norwalk Community College, the “under-prepared student” is a problem he faces every day, he told the Westport Rotary Club today.
“At NCC, 70 percent of those admitted need to take at least one sub-college-level course to prepare them for college level studies,” Levinson said.
This burdens the taxpayer twice, he explained. The first time is when a resident pays local taxes for high school education.
The second time is when a resident pays taxes that support colleges which then have to channel resources into teaching sub-college-level courses.
“There is an achievement gap,” Levinson said. “Only 34 percent of white students entering NCC are prepared to perform at the college level.
“Even more alarming, only 18 percent of Hispanic and 9 percent of African-Americans are prepared.”
Levinson said the achievement gap is related to an equation consisting of underperforming schools, under-financed schools and family influence.
“The great bulk of work we face at a community college is bringing students up to college-level capabilities,” he said.
Although NCC has resources many other community colleges don’t, Levinson said the cost of preparing under-prepared students for the 21st century is daunting.
”Fifty-five percent of our students receive financial aid,” he said.
“To put this into perspective, NCC is among the 10 most financially endowed community colleges in the country. So the problem extends well beyond our own challenges.”