@ OP (who happens to be LB): I really hope I'm misreading your last post. Please tell me you didn't burn this shot on some freshmen toss away. I may have a chip on my shoulder, especially in regards to teachers, but you really have a chance here to draw attention to a severe issue. This burn hurts a bit...
It's not a toss-away article, it will be "for real". I'm not going all-out for something I don't think is important.
As you said, it is a real issue and deserves real attention.
It is a real issue and deserves attention, just not from an undergraduate student's essay.
And looking for examples of bad practices is original research (to prove it exists and/or to sample its likelihood), which you must quantify and judge to your reader (your professor).
Your purpose (as given) is to argue a point of view. Find people who agree with you to back up your claims and dispute or disprove counter-claims. Remember, an argumentative essay is a persuasive essay targeted at people who disagree with you (such as your English Comp professor, who may find it unlikely that any of his peers could be so misinformed).
I've noticed a similar thing; that while the most in demand programming skills are in the area of web application development, students in universities learn little or, most likely, no practical web application technologies.
The idea is that teaching the fundamentals of programming equips students to learn whatever is required of them in the future. I think the same reasoning goes to excuse teaching outdated programming practices in languages such as C++.
What they are trying to teach is not the modern best practices of a specific language, but the algorithms and design patterns that may be applicable to many domains, as well as developing the general through process that goes into thinking about these things.
This all boils down to the idea of teaching computer science vs software engineering. Most people do not do work as computer scientists, but rather as high level developers or administrators.
They spend their time learning new technologies and getting good at those technologies, but computer science is more theoretical, and language independent at it's chore; more math than engineering.
Technology is constantly changing. If you teach modern practices to beginners, by the time they are in the field, those practices are outdated anyways. The real skill they concentrate on is how to think/analyze and how to problem solve; the things that don't expire.
So the catch is that teaching a specific technology is not the goal of the course, so modern practice in a specific language is irrelevant to the purpose.
The problem is that, why cannot they achieve their language independent conceptual criterion while also using modern technology and practice? The answer is probably because most people qualified to teach learned C++ long ago and are not developers; they are not keeping up to date. The problem is that the people who are up to date on the technology are the people actively developing, but they are obviously most likely not teaching students, and might not be qualified to teach the theory, proofs, algorithms, etc, anyways.
Let me point to the issue of scale. Many industrial systems consist of millions of lines of code, whereas a student can graduate with honors from top CS programs without ever writing a program larger than 1,000 lines. All major industrial projects involve several people whereas many CS programs value individual work to the point of discouraging teamwork.
I agree with that view too because it is sadly true. Very few colleges stress teamwork or stress teamwork where it isn't needed. For example, when I did my degree, the only time we did teams (of four people in the class) was the senior project (that was a total cluster on that -- I was supposed to be the programmer on the team, but last minute they changed me to the 3D modeller and then decided they were going to use stock models from Torque before I even had the ones done and didn't let me have any say on either decision). Even before I went to DeVry I did a year and a half at IVY Tech locally and the only team course they had was Public Speaking (I hate speeches).