Three strikes, and you should already be out

The new 'three strikes rule' allows students to repeat a class three, instead of four times.

Many things have historically come in threes, like the Three Wise Men, the three-point basket, and even the Three Musketeers.

In Santa Monica College, as well as other community colleges across California, there is another “three” that is staking its claim.

The “three strikes rule” is a policy that says students will not be allowed to repeat a class more than three times—unless due to major unforeseen circumstances—down from the previous limit of four. It is set to be fully implemented statewide for the summer 2012 session.

What kind of serious student, barring truly uncontrollable circumstances, really needs to take a class that many times?

Students attend community colleges to learn new trades, rehash old skills, and transfer to 4-year universities; not to give half-hearted efforts and dwell in the same classes repeatedly. When students are taking withdrawals (W’s) repeatedly and retaking classes due to making a D or an F, this keeps new students out of these classes.

“Students take these classes and then drop them. For students who want the classes, it’s no good,” says Eric Fahour, a Santa Monica College sophomore.

SMC’s policy also allows students to sign up for a class then take a W; sign up for the same class again, and if they make a D or an F, they can retake it again. On top of that, if they retake it a third time and take another W, they can still apply for a waiver to take the class a fourth time. The grade that they receive that fourth time then wipes out the other two W’s and the previous unwanted grade.

That scenario is a complete and utter joke. Santa Monica College is a place of higher learning, not pre-school. At least it only allows a student to retake a class for a better grade once.

Is allowing students who obviously aren’t giving maximum effort to repeat classes really necessary?

We must applaud the California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office (CCCCO) for stepping up and making a change, even if their overriding reason was due to the state’s budget woes.

The July 2011 CCCCO Board agenda cites “reduced system capacity and increased enrollment demand” as the paramount reason for reducing the amount of times a particular course can be repeated.

Why is the number even as high as three? We live in a results-oriented society; do-overs aren’t handed out nearly as easily in real life as our community colleges are allowing.

The CCCCO should take out that third strike, knocking the limit down to two. Take the safety blanket away from those who think they can slack off from classes as they please. College isn’t for everyone; by decreasing the room for lazy students and not allowing them to repeat classes over and over, we up the ante for success among community colleges all across the state.

As students are being kept out of classes due to some of their unmotivated peers, their careers are taking a hit. These students repeating so many classes are actually taking money out of the pockets of other students who care and who are ready to make a difference in the workforce and in the world.