Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Great Mormon Grade Grab.

Sample Pamphlet from the BYU Online High School Courses Program.

For those of you who have not yet seen the movie The Blind Side - and if you haven't, for the love of all things holy, don't - you're at least familiar with the story, yes? Poor black kid from a broken home is taken in by a rich white family in Memphis, becomes a football star and a model human being, and was a first round draft pick by the Bodymore, Murdaland Ravens in the draft a couple of years back. And if you've seen the movie, then congratulations, because you witnessed one of the more not-so-subtly racist family movies ever put to film. To sum it up: white people = holier than thou saviors and rich, black people = dumb, smelly, poor and addicted to drugs. Even Oher himself refused to see the movie based on its portrayal of him as someone who was not only poorly educated, but acted like his initial grasping of the game of football was akin to a nun grasping how to make bathtub moonshine. But I digress - I just really, really wasn't a fan of the movie, nor Sandra Bullock's RIDICULOUSLY absurd performance.

Back to the point though, a couple of the major issues raised during the movie, by the NCAA no less, were: Why did the family take Oher in? Was it because they were genuine samaritans... or was it because they were huge Ole Miss boosters and saw this as an opportunity to bolster their football team? And, if this was the case, how did a kid that was apparently starting his high school education on such an uneven playing field remain eligible and gain admission to a major university?

As to the first question, I don't really have an answer except that any of us who wouldn't kidnap a gifted athlete and train him up to be a GP killing machine shouldn't call themselves a fan - why do you think WWHD moved into an apartment by himself recently? Circling back to how terrible the movie is, do you know how they answered the question of why he chose Ole Miss? Because his tutor told him that at Tennessee, the other school he was seriously considering, there were ghosts living in the stadium. I swear to god that happened. Sandra Bullock won an Oscar for this, mind you, although it would certainly appear that karma caught up to her soon afterwards in the form of a tattoo'd hooker.

The second question, though, runs a bit deeper. Superficially, Oher qualified at Ole Miss because Ole Miss' admissions standards are somewhere between that of Kilgore College and Texas Tech. And as I suggested above, the family hired a tutor to get Oher back on track academically... or at least enough to meet the high admissions standards of an SEC institution. However, there's an even bigger reason why Oher was able to be accepted to college and, believe it or not, it's someone we've grown to hate over the past few years. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Michael Oher's second favorite college football team, the BYU Cougars!

Apparently Oher did not do as well in school as the movie would have you believe by the end. In fact, he had several F's his senior year which, had they not been replaced, would've likely kept him out of college football by default. But, rather than having to take a real, legitimate summer school class, Oher decided to enroll in BYU's online high school courses which include such complicated curriculum as, and I'm quoting the book here, 'BYU "Character Education" courses that merely required Oher to "read a few brief passages from famous works ... and then answer five questions about it." They also offered a correspondence chemistry class with a "virtual lab" which, to give you an idea, would be like a med school giving you an exit exam where you just played the game "operation." Sounds challenging, eh? I mean, at least I had to listen to a few old jazz records to pass Rock to Bach.

The "Great Mormon Grade Grab," as author Michael Lewis dubbed it, may be old news to some of you if you have read the book, which apparently makes significant mention of it, and although the movie casually glosses over this, with the NCAA recently forcing the school to abandon the program, it becomes more newsworthy. As it turns out, this is how quite a few underachieving student athletes made the jump from not doing their homework in high school to not doing their homework in college. Considering Harvey Unga wasn't smart enough to not get caught banging away at his girlfriend, I'm willing to bet he was one of the program's honor students.

First off, if you're a star athlete worthy of a Division I college scholarship, your coaches in high school are going to figure out a way to help you pass. It's probably not PC of me to say that, but I went to high school with a handful of kids who went on to play D-1 football, as I'm sure many of you did, and it's not pushing the envelope saying that they didn't exactly do their part in enhancing the whole 'student-teacher relationship.' So the fact that you need this program in the first place should probably raise a few red flags about your overall intelligence and attitude.

But beyond that, from a moral standpoint, how does this really help these kids out? Chances are, even if they end up playing football at a major university, they're not going to make a life out of playing football. Best case scenario, a typical student athlete gets their four years of eligibility and, hopefully, a college degree out of the deal and moves on to a career in some other field. But with this program, you're basically saying, "Don't worry about your grades kid, just concentrate on football and, when it comes time to fill out that college application, you can read the Cliff Notes to Moby Dick and fill in the gaps." Sure, it's a temporary stop gap and accomplishes an immediate goal, but when they get to college and the temptations and distractions are multiplied a thousand fold, not to mention an even tougher sports/academics balance to maintain, chances are they'll end up pulling a James Battle and be out on the street having gained nothing.

If I really wanted to keep getting into it, this would pretty much turn into a lecture on education reform which is not something I'm really that interested in getting into, but you can see what BYU has done here, no? They're preaching that they're helping inner city kids "rise up" from their situation and become eligible to go to college, when what they're really doing is teaching them that being just educated enough is a-OK. Then, unless they're able to go on to the NFL, these kids more than likely never complete college, or at least have a hell of a time doing so. In other words, they're keeping them suppressed while telling themselves they're helping them rise up.

That this should surprise me considering my rant against against Aryan U from a few weeks back is ironic, as is the fact that these are the Cougars we're referring to regarding a failed educational system. Honestly, I'm not sure what makes this such a hot button topic to me other than BYU football hate. Maybe I'm still mad my mom made me take all of those AP classes in high school. ::polishes National Merit Scholar Award:: Maybe I'm mad that getting accepted into college actually meant I had to scholastically compete for my acceptances.

Or maybe I'm just all too aware that, without BYU's help, I could have that hour and a half that I wasted watching The Blind Side back.


Bumblebeetuna said...

Uh- I believe you are mistaken on Sandra Bullock's quailty of performance. Definately deserving of an Oscar. I mean that AUTHENTIC southern accent pretty much sums it up...amazing.

LT4heisman said...

I'd drink her bath water

Bodenman said...

Excellent work.

Scientology > Mormon

Lyle Lanley said...

I didn't see The Blind Side, but if it's anything like her sex scene with Detective John Spartan in Demolition Man, I'm guessing it would give me both an epileptic seizure AND a boner.

Rabble Rouser said...

Two things:

#1) People who live in glass houses shouldn't throw stones (How exactly did Dwight Smith get into TCU?)

#2) In the book "Meat Market" by Bruce Feldman which chronicles a calendar year of Coach Ogreron recruiting at Ole Miss in 06'-07') Coach O mentions the BYU courses many times, saying that it was a major trick that they used at USC, and that not many knew about it. But as soon as it got out it would spread like wild fire. Guess he was right.

Sir Wesley Willis said...

#1. shhhhhhhh

#2. haven't read that one either, but regardless, it's a pretty big slap in the face to the admissions process, no?

VikingFrog said...

I got gum on my seat.... gum.