Cost of Covey training increases to $3.5 million, according to a town hall presentation.
Correction: A quote with an idiom referring to a “woodpile” was incorrectly attributed to Faculty Senate Secretary Lisa Black. A member of the town hall audience said it.
By Bleah B. Patterson
In Monday’s town hall meeting called by this college’s Faculty Senate, a slide presentation detailed the history of a core change that has faculty across the district protesting.
The presentation provided fuel to the faculty fire.
Included was the widespread announcement that the Alamo Colleges will serve as a guinea pig for Franklin Covey Co., to expand its market from K-12 into higher education.
Representatives of Franklin Covey met twice in the fall with the Student Academic Success Council, co-chaired by Dr. Robert Vela, vice president for academic and student success, and Dr. Cynthia Mendiola-Perez, associate vice chancellor for student and program development.
The district is collaborating with Franklin Covey, the company behind “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen Covey and its extensive line of training and planning materials.
Covey intends to release a textbook specifically for EDUC 1300, Learning Framework, that will be required for every student taking the course.
“I can’t help but think that there’s a skunk in the woodpile when I hear all of this information,” Faculty Senate Secretary Lisa Black said.
Beginning in fall 2014, the Covey Training and Counseling Institute will be using the Alamo Colleges course EDUC 1300 as a model to market to other institutions implementing similar courses, Chancellor Bruce Leslie wrote in a response to a protest from Northwest Vista College faculty.
Throughout a two-year discussion, faculty members across the district have opposed implementing the course in the core curriculum in place of a humanities class, but the NVC protest centered on Leslie’s circumventing the normal process.
In the meeting Monday, senate President Dawn Elmore said, “Everyone in here has been Covey-ized. Covey is all about process. If you expect our students to follow the process, then, we, too, must follow the process.”
She continued, “How can we not have an intelligent dialogue just because we may not agree?”
Writing center Director Jane Focht-Hansen was among the nearly 100 people in attendance.
“Where’s the evidence?” she asked, “I want to see evidence that this will be successful for college students. I want to know this will work.”
“That’s because there isn’t (any),” Elmore responded.
During this conversation, NVC Faculty Senate member Neil Lewis turned to NVC humanities Instructor Carlos Lopez to say “assimilation.”
He referred to numerous decisions Leslie has presented to the board of trustees since his arrival in November 2006 that are aimed at forcing five individual colleges into one.
Under Leslie, the five colleges now share common course descriptions, developmental education offerings, degree plans unless unique to a college, and core curriculum.
Sharing student learning outcomes and textbook selections are in progress.
“The burden of proof needs to be on the other side,” English and reading Chair Mike Burton said. “We need to know if it’s successful, and unfortunately, that evidence doesn’t exist.”
The presentation also indicated a five-fold increase to $3.5 million in the amount the college district has spent so far on Covey training materials.
Black questioned the level of forethought put into the core change decision. “It’s like whiplash around here; I feel like I need to be wearing a neck brace.”
English Professor Alex Bernal said, “The chancellor is so insistent that employers want students with leadership skills and that they don’t need English and history students, but every employer I’ve ever met is looking for critical thinkers and people with reading skills — at least any employer I’ve ever met, in my limited experience.”