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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Academic Redshirting raises crucial issues

Last Monday, April 2, President Kington wrote an op-ed in the Baltimore Sun entitled “Academic redshirting: Give them a little more time,” highlighting a failure by institutions of higher education to recruit “promising students from underperforming or dysfunctional K-12 schools,” despite efforts by America’s 50 wealthiest colleges and universities to do just that.

Kington suggests implementing an academic redshirt program similar to that of the NCAA, which allows student athletes to delay their competitive eligibility while still training and attending classes in order to become “more competitive” overall. Following Kington’s logic, academic redshirting would give students from underperforming high schools one year in which to bridge gaps in their preparatory education before pursuing an undergraduate degree.

In theory, we agree with Kington’s suggestion that higher education institutions take action to better accommodate students’ transitions from public high schools that inadequately prepare them for college. Kington lays out several pathways for this educational foundation: a prep school model, an academy model and a community college model. These proposals, although still general, sound both interesting and encouraging and we hope that Kington will bring this discussion to the campus at large. We are eager to hear more details, both about the various parameters for identifying these students and the programs to be potentially developed to meet their needs. Who are the students this program seeks to target?

What are they supposed to achieve during this “redshirt” year? Additionally, we suggest that the education classes available to current students be expanded to include domestic educational policy, perhaps as a part of the policy studies concentration. Furthermore, as we have seen by the success of this week’s Africa symposium, a symposium on education would be fruitful.

As an institution that is committed social justice with considerable resources, Grinnell should explore every possible avenue to address educational disparity. Striving to include students from a broad variety of educational backgrounds is a crucial step in this direction, as Kington has identified. This college’s focus on addressing issues of educational inequality should by no means end with admissions.

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