Oh pshaw. I wasn't pulling a No True Scotsman on you. I just didn't have all the information. The only guilt I will claim is assumption that anyone who only attends a class long enough to not have their Pell Grants taken away is not majoring in that field. Even there I am not so sure. Of the many programming classes I have taken, any of the intro level ones would always have a decent share of people who just need the 1 programming credit for some other degree. Their engagement level was similar to the 1/3 who stopped coming to your classes.
I will also contend that your statement "The answer is simple: There will be more smart students at community colleges who probably would have gone to a better 4-year school if community college wasn't "free"." is not proven by the rest of your post. You don't know that for certain and seem to be pushing an agenda. You were fine up until that point. I don't think experience is wasted, especially when a young academic might still be trying to figure out what to do with their life.