Pecos Bill: a strange name for a college? Perhaps, but the commitent of our institution to an entirely democratic form of higher education leaves one with no less an appropriate choice. The tremendous growth in community colleges throughout the United States and, in fact, the world, has focused attention on our modern-day churche of postsecondary salvation.
There was a time when it was thought that higher education was not for the many, but the community colleges have changed all that. And in the forefront of the movement a small, humble institution, situated in the plains of west Texas, has become a leader - its name now synonymous with innovation and compreensiveness. Pecos Bill Community College, in Lois, Texas, was formed only seven years ago when five mobile homes were formed into a circle on the outskirts of this small community and I stepped sniffed the air (a gas leak was forming the time) and said "It is good."
"We looked at the land and breathed the air
and we said 'It is good.'"
[Illustration by Jose Trevino]
Pecos Bill is a college without walls. In fact, it is also without floors, ceilings, windows, and parking lots. The school is committed to novative educational practice and will implement any program, at any time, for any reason --the ultimate goal in innovation. Though by no means a school oriented toward athletics, it has manged to support a fine Roller Derby team and each year someone from Passaic, N.J., is invited occupy the Joanie Weston Chair of Physics.
Many ask how such an institution has suceeded where so many have failed. The answer, quite simply, is leadership. At PBJC we have initiated policies which have proven to support and stimulate the development of this truly unique educational institution. Many have heard and read of the West Texas Junior College teacher draft and the fame of Graphotherapy (P.B.J.C.'s approach to English Composition) is widespread, but the ultimate creation is my personal brainchild which provides what ay be the final solution Remedial-Developmental-Compensatory-PreVocational Studies. we have looked at this matter with a fresh perspective and determined that tradional programs came at the problem from the wrong direction. Instead of bottom-up thinking, we realized the need for a top-down approach. It's impossible to raise the academic level of unprepared community and junior college students. Though many have tried, none have succeeded. But if you look around the evidence is clear. we cannot do much to help the slow learner, but there's a mound of evidence that we know how to impede the fast one. We have been dealing with the wrong group! Rather than raise the abilities of the poorer students, we simply need to impede the progress of the faster ones.
So that's what we did. the High Achiever Remedial Approach into the curriculum. The usual tests were administered and the "good" students were placed in special classes. Instructors mumbled, gave exams that bore little resemblence to what they said or what was in the teext and generally disregarded students. The universities had set the standards here long ago. The success of the experiment was nearly complete. (Strangeky enough, some students still excell and so we are conducting studies to find out why and how we can stop it.)
A very popular program at Pecos Bill is the Associate Degree in Faith Healing. All credits transfer to Oral Roberts University, but those studnts who terminate after two years are only allowed to lay on one hand. Rather than the traditional sheepskin, gr~d! uates of the program are each presented with a brightly painted, horse-drawn wagon; ten empty Mason jars, and a dog that drinks and performs summersaults.
Another program established by the college
in response to the community's needs is Porno Shop Management. Students are taught the art of surreptitious sales and receive intensive training in the lesser-known details of the First Amendment.
Finally, a most recent addition to the list of offerings, Massage Parlour Technology (or as Dr. Wombat, Professor of English Literature is fond of saying, "there's the rub") has proven to be very popular, and self-sustaining, as the income from the operation of the lab is sufficient to cover the salaries of all of the full-time faculty and a few part-timers as well.
What lies in the future? Who knows? But you can be sure that Pecos Bill Junior College will be on the slicing edge, nestled in our research ab here in Lois, Terxas where we are the eyes and ears of community and junior colleges throughout the U.S., waiting patiently for the next rough beast, its hour come round at last, to come slouching towards Lois to be born. And that's what higher education is all about...isn't it?