Oh, Goody, A New Oxford American Website

Why is she so angry?

Regular readers of this site know of my dismissive feelings for The Oxford American, a superannuated literary journal published out of the University of Central Arkansas. The “Southern Magazine of Good Writing,” whatever that means, is much-celebrated but rarely read, and for some reason that just really gets on my nerves. It probably gets on yours, too, you just won’t admit it.

And now, thanks to the OA’s redesigned website that launched today, you have an entirely new avenue through which you can not be reading it.

Or, as one of my e-mail correspondents put it this morning, “what everyone needs…a website that no one will read for a magazine that no one reads.” How mean! And also hilarious. Thank you, correspondent, for letting me know that I’m not alone in my inexplicable hatred for this completely unnecessary publication.

UPDATE: The Oxford American’s tiny legion of fans does not like my bad-mouthing of their beloved publication, no they do not. (Hm, that page apparently disappeared off Twitter for some reason. But never fear! I got a screenshot. No wonder I am so hated!):

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26 thoughts on “Oh, Goody, A New Oxford American Website

  • June 15, 2009 at 6:55 pm
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    You’re just a total asshole. I happen to be a subscriber and I’ll have you’ll know I have read, uh, some articles since I started my subscription about four years ago. And plus, it just really looks good on my coffee table and when people see it, they say things like, ” that’s a cool magazine,uh, … isn’t it ?” And one of these days when they make the articles readable, I’m gonna read some more of them. In the meantime, I’m sure the new president of UCA will want to continue spending almost a million dollars a year to have a cool magazine that has never made money.

    PS. They don’t even have good pictures. For an actual good magazine about the South, see “Garden and Gun.”

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  • June 15, 2009 at 9:49 pm
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    David,

    I couldn’t agree more with nemo, except I have a different reason to put you on my fecal scroll. I thought you were pullin’ one of those famous Kinkade reverse psychology tricks. You know, “hey, this is awful don’t read it” just to get me to read it. Well, I read it, or at least I tried to. Now I’ve got a freakin’ migraine! Do you have any idea what the copay is for a SubQ Imitrex injection is?…… Well, do you?

    I am super-pissed! And as soon as the aura leaves and I regain full vision, I’m going to find out if Vickery had ANYTHING to do with this for his consulting fees. If he did, I’m not following him on Twitter any more! EVER!

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  • June 15, 2009 at 11:51 pm
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    David,

    You sound like an idiot. Your “argument” carries no weight. To paraphrase: “I hate a celebrated magazine because no one reads it.” What is that? Do you have access to their subscription lists and sales records? Have YOU read the magazine? If you have, I’d hope to god you would be able to come up with a more substantial opinion than that. One based on evidence, facts, or the like. Since you mention none of that here, I am forced to conclude you haven’t read the magazine. Riddle me this: if you haven’t read the magazine, how do you expect to effectively criticize it, to boast (and that’s what you are doing) an “inexplicable hatred for this completely unnecessary publication” without looking like a fool? Unnecessary, eh? I wonder how many “hits” your blog gets?

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  • June 16, 2009 at 3:22 am
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    It’s true, siiigh! I am an idiot and no one reads this terrible blog! In fact, it turns out that nemo and DumbArkie are the last remaining readers of The Arkansas Project. So as soon as I can get rid of them and prove that I am unable to sustain a viable readership, I should be eligible to be taken under the protective wing of a state university and to have anonymous wealthy donors write six-figure checks to support me in style. I’m given to understand that it’s a can’t-miss publishing model.
    D.

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  • June 16, 2009 at 9:10 am
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    I’m only hangin’ around ’cause you owe my daughter, DumbArkette, a pie. Not a summer pie, like Key Lime, but something that clearly says autumn, like Cinnamon Apple. As soon as you fulfill that obligation, nemo can have it all, I’m outta here! (Thinking to self…I wonder if Blake needs a flunky?)

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  • June 16, 2009 at 9:37 am
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    If I could read, I wouldn’t read this blog or the Oxford American.

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  • June 16, 2009 at 9:54 am
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    Oh yeah…I forgot that running a small, independent print publications is highly lucrative. That’s why there are so many! Sorry, you are saying it’s not? Oh…since it’s a poor non-profit it should just die, instead of contributing significantly, talentedly, inspiringly, to the areas of Southern art, literature, and culture. Boy, those things are so unnecessary! (I mean, they are understood completely and correctly, I mean right? People never have preconceived notions about them. Southern stereotypes? What’s that! Definitely nothing pervasive. I’m just sittin’ here with ma shotgun’ sippin’ mint juleps waitin’ in cut offs and flannel for sum trespasser to shoot and curse to high heavens in my thick, highly intelligible Southern drawl.) People sure do get there fill of intellectual stimulation, eyes glazed over at the TV and the internet! Everyone knows those mediums are jam-packed FULL of value. And corporate publications! I LOVE hearing just one point of view. Makes it so I don’t have to think!

    I’d rather not read previously unpublished work by our Southern literary greats. The material should have been lost to the ages, never to be seen! I also don’t think the OA should be giving world-class publishing experience to UCA work-study students and other interns. I mean, it’s not like they don’t have other opportunities, right? Everyone can fly out to New York and get and internship there!

    So yes, I don’t see why anyone would think the OA was worth saving, especially since the last time it crumbled financially was due not to lack of readership, but to an embezzlement scandal. Totally their fault!

    I see that you neglected to acknowledge my accusation that you haven’t read the magazine. I just don’t see how you can expect to have people take you seriously when you are criticizing a publication you haven’t even opened. If you were suggesting defensible claims, here, I would have substituted my sarcasm with something a bit more…open to discussion.

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  • June 16, 2009 at 10:32 am
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    Heavens, such a lengthy and vociferous response, siiigh. If the Oxford American needs that kind of defense against the criticisms of a third-rate political gossip blogger, it must be in even worse straits than I imagined. No one takes me seriously, except apparently you, whose sanctimonious humorlessness must make you an ideal OA reader.

    Of course I’ve read this absurd little magazine from time to time. Regularly? God no, and I’ll confess to having stopped looking at the print edition a couple of years back, because even my capacity for masochism knows its limits. I checked the content available online yesterday to determine that, yes, it remains as inessential as ever. So if that’s your most powerful accusation, as you seem to believe it to be, I’m afraid it’s on rather shaky ground.

    And I smell a rat in your suggestion that the OA is “needed” to combat tired Southern stereotypes. Based on what I’ve seen, the OA’s game is simply to replace one stereotype with another stereotype, one of gauzy, heavily sentimentalized, literary gentility. It’s a vision of “fine Southern livin” that is every bit as absurd as that of the toothless hillbilly, which you parody here with some skill.

    And really, I have no real beef with some of the other things you suggest are benefits, such as the offering of previously unpublished works by Southern literary greats. That’s all good and fine, but it could just as easily be accomplished on the web, at much less expense and trouble, than through a costly and perennially failing print property that was anachronistic when it was launched 20 years ago.
    D.

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  • June 16, 2009 at 11:39 am
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    The OA is published by someone from New York city. That fact along removes it from being considered a “Southern Magazine of Good Writing”.

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  • June 16, 2009 at 12:12 pm
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    The publisher has nothing to do with the content of the magazine. Besides, he lives in Little Rock now, a transplant!

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  • June 16, 2009 at 12:20 pm
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    Both the editor and the publisher are liberal Yankees…I see a problem with that.

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  • June 16, 2009 at 12:21 pm
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    My real question is how Southern is their Featured Writer of the Month, Christina Hernandez? No, not because she is Hispanic, but because of this:

    “THE OA: Mira struggles with her identity and at one point says that she doesn’t know where her “home” is. Her Panamanian friend, Danilo, says home “is where you feel most like you belong.” Where is “home” for you?

    CH: This is the second time in my life I’ve been asked this question and I don’t think I’m any closer to being able to answer it now than the first time. I’ve lived in Delaware, Florida, Virginia, Indiana, Iowa, Texas, and Illinois. I’ve spent extended portions of my life in Panama. And yet, where is home? Is it where I live now? But I’ve only been here for three years. It doesn’t feel any more like home than any place I’ve been. Is it where I primarily grew up and where my parents still live? But when I go back there, I hardly recognize it anymore. The best I can do is to say that home for me is with my family—my husband and my daughter. When I’m with them, I feel at home.”

    So she blew through a couple of Southern states in her early life, lived “extended portions” of her life in Panama, and now resides in Chicago. I’m just not seeing the Southern flavor here. Maybe the product doesn’t match the tag line.

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  • June 16, 2009 at 12:24 pm
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    Or how about this little gem!!!

    From Oxford American:
    Of Jonathan Rosenbaum, Jean-Luc Godard says, “I think there is a very good film critic in the United States today, a successor of James Agee, and that is Jonathan Rosenbaum. He’s one of the best. We don’t have writers like him in France today.” I shared this quote in my current editorial in the magazine—but it’s a fascinating comment that bears repeating.

    From Wikipedia:
    Regarding Rosenbaum, French New Wave director Jean-Luc Godard said: “I think there is a very good film critic in the United States today, a successor of James Agee, and that is Jonathan Rosenbaum. He’s one of the best; we don’t have writers like him in France today. He’s like André Bazin.”[3]

    I guess it does bear repeating!

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  • June 16, 2009 at 1:03 pm
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    DumbArkie,
    In a related story, Jean-Luc Godard is apparently still alive.
    D.

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  • June 16, 2009 at 1:41 pm
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    Thank God for the Arkansas Project and its very intelligent readers. Maybe you could have these smart-asses read the OA for us each time an issue comes out (when and if it does) and interpret it for us dumb asses. Mark it: new president will shut it down.

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  • June 16, 2009 at 1:50 pm
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    It is funny that Mr. Kinkade finds this magazine so unimportant and uniformative that he took the time out of his life to address its new website. You say in one response that access to the inforamtion in the magazine “could just as easily be accomplished on the web, at much less expense and trouble.” Your article includes and introduction on why you hate the magazine but the main idea of your article is to criticize their new website. As your introduction says we already know how you feel about the magazine and the article moves forward to attacking the website. Two poins, one if the magazine is so terrible why would the University of Arkansas press print it, why does it have a national following, why do semi-respected bloggers decide to wrtie articles over it. Second point, one reason you have crticized the magazine is because it could pass on the same information online and when it makes and attempt to do so, you quickly write an article to crticize that move. I think you understand how many people like the magazine and it frustrats you because you have a different opinion. But for you to say people don’t read it, that is ridiculous and for you to criticize it for doing something you suggested, that is even more ridiculous. You and your readers of this blog, which carries no particular accolades, obviously feel the print is unreadable, you give an opinion and they follow you because of your opinion, but for you to citicize another print without any proof or pragmatic reasoning dosen’t make your assessment valid. Also, without any reasoning it makes it hard for anyone to take into consideration your point of view. Even if some people agree with you, why would you take so much of your time to address this magazine if you hate it so much. You don’t have enough pull to stop it’s national attention and isn’t their other issues that are more important to you than a magazine that has more recognition then this particular blog site. Some people may Perceive this as a hint of envy on your part. I don’t read the magazine myself, but due to it’s recognition I’m sure that they have respectable material. I also don’t really read this blog, I am an intern here at the AG’s office in the public affairs dept and one of my task each day is to cover Arkansas news on these blog sites, so don’t think I am out after you either. It just seems a little odd that you want to attack something like the Oxford American, when they seem to be doing well right now. They may have had their financial troubles in the pass, but truthfully which hard print magaazine or newspaper hasn’t recently. Should they all stop and just blog with us?

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  • June 16, 2009 at 1:57 pm
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    Thank you, John. That was almost completely incomprehensible. Please give my warmest regards to Attorney General McDaniel and the whole gang there in the office.
    D.

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  • June 16, 2009 at 2:17 pm
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    Thaks I will, Sorry if that was hard for you to understand and for the grammar. I have to write in a hurry, have a lot to do. In short why attack college students, like myself, for furthering their education and developing their writing skills. They may want to be columnist like Mr. Kinkade or work for a magazine. Engaging in this project and Reviving a nationally respected publication is great for UCA and I think we should be encouraging them to do well and congratulating them on their success instead of criticizing thier work. I’ve read your some other Kinkade articles and they seem to be informative but, I cannot condone unfair criticism of hard working students and faculty.

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  • June 16, 2009 at 6:13 pm
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    John Sanson,

    Do you think the standards for admission to college might be a little too low these days?

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  • June 17, 2009 at 2:29 pm
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    I don’t think so at all. When were the standards higher? I think that the stadardize testing and the totality of high school performance is the best way to determine admission. Some people would argue that the process is harder for the underprivleged students who can learn to perform at the collegiate level. If you were refering to these individuals that print this magazine then you must not remember how difficult university studies are and how hard it is to find time to study and engage in Extracurricular activities. These students don’t only deserve to be at UCA they deserve recognition for the work they are doing to further their education.

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  • June 17, 2009 at 9:45 pm
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    John,

    The standards have never been lower. Look at remediation rates now versus 30, 40, or 50 years ago. They’re well over 50% in four of the state universities (77% in community colleges). In other words, more than 50% of Arkansas’ college students aren’t ready for college work!

    And you can bet your bottom lottery dollar that it’s about to go even higher as pressure is put on high school counselors to get EVERY kid, deserving or not, capable or not, into college and help burn through Passailaigue’s new mountain of cash.

    Back in the day, you went to college because you were ready for college. Now, NOT dropping out of high school is all you need to be eligible for college (and a pile of free money.)

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  • June 19, 2009 at 3:00 pm
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    Well DumbArkie, when is the last time you applied for University courses? What were the requirements of entry to a university? I know did it 3 years ago, they check you high school performance and standardized test scores, each university states admission requirements in their university handbook. You are trying to use remediation rates to show that entry to universities are easier. There is no connection of remediation rates to entrance requirements. First if you take remedial classes you are not in any university studies program at any university. 2nd there are prerequisites to college work, if you don’t score high enough on standardize test in a subject, if you don’t have an equivalent course to transfer in replace of a subject, or if you don’t pass a standardized test that the University provides then you have to take remedial courses to get into university studies in that subject. This also applies to Community colleges. Most importantly you have to pay for the remedial classes as if they were credited hours and there is no scholarship money givin to remedial students only grants and loans. So universities aren’t just letting students in that can’t do the work. The students either meet the requirements to enter into university studies or take remedial courses that they have to pay for. If you can’t cut it you can’t pass. This is also good for lottery money because it will allow each kid to have a chance and if they can’t cut it then they drop and no more money goes to them it goes to other students that are passing or entering college. You need to look into the process of the universities. They clearly lay all of this information out in their University Handbook, college is not a cake walk and they offer remedial courses to at least give people a chance. This isn’t high school, if you can’t pass you don’t just go to remedial class for free you pay for every hour of knowledge you get and if you can’t cut it even the school has a process to get you out (academic probation and then academic suspension). Again the admission process is no easier now than it was years ago. They just offer courses now that will give more people a chance to learn.

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  • June 19, 2009 at 8:05 pm
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    John,
    I can only make one of the following two conclusions from your muddled and verbose single-paragraph rambling that covers several topics and truly addresses none.

    1)You were busy when you wrote it (as in your apology above.)
    2)Your English professors had very bad graduate assistants.

    So as not to disparage the graduate assistants, I will assume that you were EXTREMELY busy.

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  • June 22, 2009 at 10:05 am
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    Great assumption I was at work, that is the only time I write on Blogs. This is a blog not an essay contest if you can’t undestand what is said than I can’t help you or you don’t have a college degree to understand the process I was trying to describe. Point is Each college has a very detailed cirriculum and it is laid out in their student handbook. Remedial classes aren’t considered college credit and for you to use remediation rates to criticize standards for admission is just idiotic. You say “The standards have never been lower. Look at remediation rates now versus 30, 40, or 50 years ago.” How does that mean that admission standards are lower. Remedial classes aren’t considered part of University studies. They are classes you have to pay for to get into University studies. Nothing to do with low admission. If you do bad on a standardized test or don’t have any prerequisites credits to enter into University cirriculum them you take remedial classes. If you pass remedial classes with an A, you get 0 credit hrs. So how does this hurt college admission standards. Standards are the same as they always were. You also said “And you can bet your bottom lottery dollar that it’s about to go even higher as pressure is put on high school counselors to get EVERY kid, deserving or not, capable or not, into college and help burn through Passailaigue’s new mountain of cash.” Anyone can apply to college. I need you to name someone who dosen’t deserve to apply and who are you to say that someone dosen’t deserve to try to recieve a higher education. You also say counselors will try hard to get kids that aren’t capable into college. The college has a handbook to let everyone know in writing what capable is. You either meet the requirements or you don’t. If you aren’t then you fail out of the university. Again who are you to say that a kid isn’t capable to learn, many students begin taking remedial classes and go on to graduate college with honors or a good GPA. I guess my point was, you don’t understand university admission and therefore have no room to criticize. Pick up one unviersity handbook and tell me I’m wrong. You can’t. Also stop trying to follow Mr. Kinkade and bailing out on the debate by criticizing my writing skills. I was a political science major not english and Microsoft word is a wonderful tool for writing papers. THERE IS NO VALIDITY OR RATIONALE BEHIND YOUR REMARKS ON LOW COLLEGE ADMISSION STANDARDS. YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT THE ADMISSION PROCESS FOR UNIVERSITIES.

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  • June 25, 2009 at 8:30 am
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    Geez John,

    I guess I owe you a couple of apologies. The first apology is for the delay in responding to your gross mischaracterization of my statements. You see, I just returned from Fayetteville after helping a near and dear family member go through, quite coincidentally, the whole freshmen orientation process at the University of Arkansas. You’ll be happy (or maybe not) to learn that he requires no remediation and qualifies for the honors program. Additionally, he was able to test out of several hours of freshman-level courses because he was more than prepared for college, but I digress.

    Second, I apologize for taking such a cheap and easy shot at your writing skills as I was unaware that you reserve your best writing for “essay contest(s).” While not knowing that you are a “political science major not english(sic),” it was rather presumptuous of me to assume that you should want to use good writing skills to persuade others. My bad.

    John, you asked the question “When were the standards higher?” I answered it. You just simply don’t like the answer and have decided to twist and distort what I’ve said and offer no statistics of your own. You throw out red herrings and build up straw man arguments such as saying that I think some people shouldn’t be allowed to apply. Balderdash and poppycock! That is absolutely incorrect. I never said that anyone should be kept from applying. Please don’t put words in my mouth. You also keep saying that students in remediation don’t get college credit. Of course they don’t. I never said they do. Stick to the point John, which is your question “When were the standards higher?”

    Remediation rates are a major challenge for colleges. The lowering or raising of admission standards are an integral factor in determining remediation rates. While the last couple of years have seen a minor drop in Arkansas’ remediation rates, only time will tell if this is a trend. Don’t take my word for these facts. Read this article http://www.arktimes.com/Articles/print.aspx?ArticleID=8dac2f22-5e4f-4d5d-9cff-a1397a45ec8e

    or google this book “Handbook of College Reading and Study Strategy Research.”

    Or does this do anything for you? A tad bit dated, but still relevant: “The latest figures show that almost all colleges and universities (98 percent) allow students to take remedial courses at the same time as college-level courses; some 23 percent give college-level credit for catch-up courses, thus providing the appearance – not the reality – of core courses.” Source: Wallin, Jeffrey ‘Colleges should change course.’ USA TODAY, 20 September 1996 [National Center for Educational Statistics ]

    Or maybe you’d like to read what happened at CUNY. They stiffened their enrollment requirements by doing away with most of their remedial classes. Do you still see no link between admission requirements and remediation? http://www.highereducation.org/crosstalk/ct0205/news0205-cuny.shtml

    Let’s look at credentials for a moment, John. Unless you’re holding out on us, the entirety of your experience in college admissions is completely anecdotal in that you applied and were accepted three years ago. As for me, the past several years I have worked and continue to work in the field of education, including several semesters as an adjunct professor at an Arkansas community college, where I have seen remediation in action. Also, you question whether or not I have a degree. Yes John, I do and I am currently working on dual masters’ degrees.

    Now, if my credentials are not sufficient for you, or if the above links are not to your liking, I accepted your challenge and I offer you the following from page 30 of the University of Arkansas CATALOG OF STUDIES 2009-2010 CD or here on page two http://catalogofstudies.uark.edu/0910-04-Orientation.pdf . It states:

    “Arkansas State Requirements for Developmental Course Placement
    Arkansas law specifies that all first-time entering freshmen enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program will be placed in either college-level credit courses in English and mathematics or remedial courses in English composition, reading, and mathematics on the basis of their scores on specified tests.”

    John, what part of “enrolled in a bachelor’s degree program” is so hard for you to understand? You can be enrolled in a degree program and by state law the college must place students, if necessary, in remedial classes based on their scores. That’s Arkansas law! Remedial students are admitted into bachelor degree programs. What other proof do you need? I guess challenging me to look at a handbook wasn’t such a good idea for making your case, but there it is.

    You also said that you “think that the stadardize(sic) testing and the totality of high school performance is the best way to determine admission.” If those were the only criteria for admission to college, no remedial students would be accepted into college. So, by your own words, you don’t think remedial students should be allowed to enter college. Why would you say such a mean and hateful thing to remedial students and then pretend to defend them? Why do you apparently dislike remedial students to the point that you would say that they “are not in any university studies program at any university” when they clearly are as stated in the U of A Catalog?

    By the way, how can you speak of remedial students as if they’re not real students accepted to the college or university? Try telling them they are “not in any university studies program at any university,” whatever that means. Why do you want to discriminate and segregate these students? They are real students in real degree programs. Sometimes they are admitted conditionally and others are fully admitted but blocked from enrolling in certain courses until they have completed their remediation, but they are admitted nonetheless, as per Arkansas law cited above. By your theory, more than 50% of the freshmen walking around the average Arkansas university campus are “not in any university studies program at any university.” Really?

    For the record John, since you like to distort and twist my words, I do think it is wonderful when people try to better themselves through education. I have helped many remedial students try to do this. How many remedial students have you helped get into college, huh? How many have come back to you to tell you “thanks” for helping them? Unfortunately, I am often saddened to hear of and from many of them who drop out before the first semester is over. I tell them to keep studying and reading on their own and that maybe it just wasn’t the right time for them, but don’t lose hope.

    John, you challenged me to stop “bailing out on the debate.” I was unaware that this was a debate. You’ve offered no facts, just screaming at me using all caps. Screaming doesn’t make your point more valid. Yelling is a sure sign that you haven’t a decent argument. That would never fly in the world of debate. It’s also just bad Internet etiquette.

    The facts are what they are. Most of today’s remedial students would not have been admitted to a college or university 30, 40, or 50 years ago without lowering, bending, adjusting, modifying, etc. the admission requirements and increasing the number of available remedial classes.

    So John, I’m going to, as they say on TV just before the commercial, leave you with the last word. Get mad, twist my words, put words in my mouth, change the topic, SCREAM AT ME WITH WHOLE PARAGRAPHS IN ALL CAPS all you want. I’ve answered your question and offered proof and real-life experiences, while you’ve figuratively stomped your feet and said college is hard, don’t be mean to us. The floor is yours sir, but there will be no reply from me because much like my well fed cat that instinctively plays for a while with an injured mouse and then suddenly walks away, I am bored with this “debate” in which I am the only one who is required provide facts.

    Oh, and believe me or not, I do wish you much success in furthering your education and in whatever you decide as a career choice. An educated America is a better America.

    (DumbArkie thinking to himself: Kinkade is going to be pissed that this comment is longer than his ArDemGaz article on the Tea Party that I’m almost finished reading……..Now I want to find that jackass Bill in Sheridan who asked “Do you think the standards for admission to college might be a little too low these days?” Thanks a lot Bill!)

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