Mainstreaming Basic Writers: Politics and Pedagogies of Access

Mainstreaming Basic Writers: Politics and Pedagogies of Access

Mainstreaming Basic Writers: Politics and Pedagogies of Access

Mainstreaming Basic Writers: Politics and Pedagogies of Access

Synopsis

At a time when various political and administrative bodies are calling for the dissolution of basic writing instruction on four-year college campuses, the need for information concerning the options available to university decision makers has become more and more pressing. A wide range of professional judgments surrounding this situation exits. Mainstreaming Basic Writers: Politics and Pedagogies of Access presents a range of positions taken in response to these recent challenges and offers alternative configurations for writing instruction that attempt to do justice to both students' needs and administrative constraints. Chapter authors include, for the most part, professionals entrusted with the role of advocating for a student population often described as "underprepared," "in need of remediation," and "at risk." Throughout the volume, contributors discuss current institutional developments and describe curricular designs that instructors searching for innovative ways to meet the needs of their heterogenous student populations will find helpful as models of college writing program curricula and administration. This book's focus is to give a fair representation of some of the more noted perspectives from nationally recognized scholars and administrators working in the field of basic writing. This presentation of key positions on the issue of mainstreaming basic writers at the college level is an important resource for all writing program administrators, composition and rhetoric students and scholars, and university decision makers from provosts to deans to department chairs.

Excerpt

This is the right time for this book. This is apparent from the controversy about the best way to meet the needs of those who have been designated basic writers. (The ways in which they have been “designated” raises another issue worthy of serious discussion and debate.) Although, as Gerri McNenny points out in the Introduction to this volume, this issue has been “on the table” since 1992, there is a new urgency to examine the role of basic writing programs and their relationship to mainstreaming issues. As McNenny notes, the arguments for and against mainstreaming are “complicated by the socio-historical moment that we find ourselves in.” the question may not turn out to be whether mainstreaming is the best option for basic writers, but whether it may he the case that it is the only option provided to these students, given the moves being made toward the elimination of basic writing classes in many 4-year colleges and university systems.

The complexities in our students' lives are clearly mirrored in the complexities of placement and instruction so prominently delineated in this collection. Students' socioeconomic and educational histories place a growing number of individuals at risk of being denied any higher education at all as political and institutional forces move to restrict or eliminate access to 4-year colleges and universities. Community colleges are increasingly the site where students must quickly obtain the “skills” necessary to pass the required placement tests for entry into 4-year colleges, while simultaneously, instructors at the community colleges are being overwhelmed by gigantic class sizes and teaching loads.

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