By Bleah B. Patterson
A course being added to the core has caused quite a stir among the Alamo Colleges.
EDUC 1300, Learning Framework, is scheduled to be added to the core in fall 2014 if the Texas Higher Education Board approves the change.
Faculty have pushed back at the district’s implementation of the course at the direction of Chancellor Bruce Leslie.
The Northwest Vista College Faculty Senate sent a letter dated Jan. 29 to the THECB petitioning the agency to reject the change.
To make room for the course in the 42-hour core curriculum, the additional humanities requirement will be eliminated.
“The current six-hour humanities requirement is one of the few areas of the core curriculum where a diversity of choices still exists for students,” Craig Coroneos, NVC humanities professor, said. “Whether it is a Mexican-American literature course or a course in world civilizations, we feel that preserving a strong humanities component in the core helps enable students to become better critical thinkers, citizens of the world and to lead more fulfilling lives,” he said.
Coroneos said he feels slighted and is worrying about the district’s decision not to include faculty in the decision-making and what will happen next.
“Faculty from across the independently accredited colleges worked hard to develop a cross-college curriculum review process,” he said. “We are disappointed to see this process completely ignored during the current attempt by district administration to revise the core.”
Dr. Thomas E. Billimek, psychology and sociology chair, said he fears that this blatant breach of procedure will endanger this college’s upcoming reaffirmation of accreditation.
EDUC 1300, Learning Framework, researches psychological learning theory and ways to improve motivation and cognition in students, according to the eCatalog course description.
The course will focus on “factors that impact learning, and application of learning strategies” but is also planned as the venue for adding training in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.”
The district has so far spent $700,000 on training and materials.
Faculty and staff are being trained first in the self-help book published in 1989 that has become a worldwide phenomenon, with more than 25 million copies sold.
This program is intended to train participants for seven weeks, however, it is now being taught to faculty in a much shorter period.
In 1999, grade schools around the country began picking up Covey’s book to train their educators, beginning in North Carolina.
Today Northside Independent School District uses Covey’s fundamental ideas to build these habits in their students.
Coroneos worries that this could be another step in dumbing down the educational system in what he calls “synergy.”
“When I heard of the proposal to replace three of the humanities core credits with a course emphasizing Covey’s ‘7 Habits,’ I instantly thought about how my grade school children might react should they ever attend one of the Alamo Colleges after having 13 years of Covey,” Coroneos said.
“I’m not sure if the adopting of the values by both NISD and Alamo Colleges is a planned ‘synergy’ or the result of a lack of communication in the so-called ‘K-16’ pipeline.”
Though the brainchild of NVC President Jacqueline Claunch, Coroneos said she never intended for the course to be forced on faculty and students this way.
The integral purpose of EDUC 1300 was to give students the option to take a course that would enhance their leadership skills. The intent was never to require students to take the course, but to provide it apart from a degree plan.
The office of the president of Northwest Vista College said Claunch, who tendered her resignation Jan. 29, is out of town until Saturday and unavailable for comment.
A Town Hall meeting will be held on the core curriculum change at 4 p.m. Monday in Room 208 of the Nursing Allied Health Complex.