The City Colleges of Chicago
"Last Chance U" is also the college of
first choice for many citizens of Chicago
Reeling off references and citations from Thomas Aquinas, St. Augustine, the Bible
and the Koran, as well as historical information about various religions, with a
few jokes thrown in for good measure, Gibson pointed out that many of the students'
beliefs came from later writings and interpretations. He taught them terms: omnipotent,
omniscient, theist, deist and henotheist. At the end of the hour-and-twenty-minute
class, he summed up his point: "To simply say God exists or doesn't is rather
naive." To argue the existence of God, he said, you have to consider all of
the questions he had introduced.
That was a new concept for Nazni Bangai, a 20-year-old Sikh Indian American studying
computer programming. Nazni was too shy to contribute to the class discussion, because
she said most people had never heard of the Sikh religion. But after class she acknowledged
she never had thought about those questions, and said she planned to discuss them
with her mother that night.
That's the kind of thing Jeffrey Gibson likes to hear. He knows that few of his students
actually will graduate from Truman, but he considers himself successful if he sees
his students engaged in a discussion after class, or if they take the time to ask
him questions. Last year, fewer than ten percent of the school's 2,756 students who
were enrolled in the college credit program earned associate degrees; another 459
earned one-year certificates.
The statistics generated by all seven of the City Colleges of Chicago appear even
more dismal: of 48,684 students enrolled in credit programs, only 1,931 -- less than
five percent -- earned two- year degrees last year; 1,041 others completed a one-year
advanced certificate. During the previous fall, only 2,082 former City Colleges students
-- also less than five percent of the district's total credit enrollment -- transferred
to four-year schools in Illinois. The district does not keep figures on students
who transfer out of state.
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