I recommend you check out the essay submitted to the Ann Arbor News ‘Other Voices’ column by Michigan English professor Randall Tessier. He’s responding to the News investigation and offers that Carty & team didn’t offer a fair voice to the challenge of how to truly evaluate students, given that teaching methods are evolving. Tessier suggests that many academics feel that to truly judge performance in the classroom, weight should be placed upon the progress of a student during the course. In such a model, “less gifted” students are rewarded for attendance, effort and ultimately for improvement.
Tessier offers a few examples of recent student athletes that excelled in his classes despite being destined for a professional sports contract. He points the reader to this article in the Michigan Daily on Chad Kolarik as the hockey star mentions the influence his English class. And on Jake Long, Tessier calls the NFL-bound OT “a flat-out great student – smart, conscientious and dedicated.”
Finally he offers up a great story on former stand-out M defenseman Jack Johnson, now with the L.A. Kings:
Too many students look at the pursuit of a degree as simply a way to make money. Seeing how Johnson addressed his university experience taught them a lesson about the value of an education that I could never impart. Although he was drafted by the pros in 2005, Johnson elected to stay in school. In 2006, however, the possibility of injury and the offer of instant playing time and a multiyear, multimillion-dollar contract made it impossible for him to hold out. At the time, he was in my English. 225 class (Argumentative Writing). It was late winter with about three weeks left in the semester. He came to me and said, “Dr. Tessier, I have to report to the L.A. Kings for their last six games, but I want to finish up here so I can continue my education next year on the West Coast. If you’ll allow me to work on my papers for the week and a half in L.A., I’ll return to class with my completed essays and be in class for the last week.” Even though Jack was set for life financially, he was of a mindset that a degree was something with an intangible value that can’t be measured with a monetary yardstick. The students were blown away.
You can read the full submission here.