Assessments director to College Council: Limiting humanities exposure smacks of racism.
By Bleah B. Patterson
During Tuesday’s College Council meeting, President Robert Zeigler said it isn’t the course being added to the core curriculum that’s causing a rift between district officials and faculty, but the lack of process followed during implementation of the course.
EDUC 1300, Learning Framework, is being added to the core curriculum in place of a second humanities course beginning in the fall.
“The college position at SAC was that we thought the course was important,” Zeigler said. “We thought it would be helpful to students, but we thought the course ought to be outside of the core, in the 18 hours they take outside the core … there were differences of opinion on that. The chancellor (Dr. Bruce Leslie) thought that it ought to be in the core.”
Faculty maintain they had no voice in the decision-making concerning curriculum.
The Super Senate and the five Faculty Senates of the district are circulating a letter of protest to Leslie. It was sent Wednesday at 5 p.m.
In a response to the Northwest Vista College Faculty Senate, the chancellor wrote that the decision was made by the PVC, shorthand for presidents and vice chancellors, because if not made quickly, the change could not be implemented until fall 2015.
Zeigler said he did not think it was appropriate to sign a letter from the Super Senate, and instead said he would gather the college executive team to review the issue and send a response to Leslie and, eventually, to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.
“The executive team, shares the faculty’s concern about the process,” Zeigler said. “We think that if we’re going to have principles of operation and we’re going to have values then we ought to also live by the same values and the same rules. Essentially, that is our position with which we will frame the response and let you (Faculty Senate) see what we come up with. We already have a draft written that I will circulate to the CET team.”
If the chancellor does not respond within a reasonable amount of time, the Super Senate and the executive team will approach the Coordinating Board with their letters, Zeigler said.
The Northwest Vista Faculty Senate sent a protest Jan 29 directly to the Coordinating Board and were chastised by the chancellor for not following procedure.
Elmore stressed that time is of the essence because the Coordinating Board will be making its final decision by Feb. 28 and will announce it on March 1.
“I want to give the chancellor a chance to respond before approaching the board,” Zeigler said. “It doesn’t need to be six months, but a reasonable amount of time.”
Adolph Lopez, director of assessments, spoke up to tell College Council that he worries with three out of the five Alamo Colleges serving minorities, there may be racism involved in the core change decision.
“It smells like racism to me. If it looks like a rat and smells like a rat, it is a rat, and it looks and smells as if we’re being discriminated against,” he said.
This college and Palo Alto College are designated as Hispanic-serving institutions by the U.S. Department of Education and St. Philip’s College is designated for serving black students. Both of these designations qualify the colleges for federal grants targeted to increasing success rates of minority students.
While a group of faculty was consulted on particular learning outcomes for a hypothetical course, they was no faculty input in the direct decision to implement the course, Zeigler said.
Dr. Robert Vela, vice president of academic and student success, co-chaired the Student Academic Success Council tasked with developing learning outcomes for the course and for student development courses.
“No discussions were made about who would teach EDUC 1300, how many hours it would be, where it would be placed in the core, or even what it would be categorized with,” Vela said to College Council. “The only thing discussed were the student learning outcomes, and that was the extent of the faculty involvement.”
Vela continued, “Our charge was not to make those recommendations. Dr. (Jo-Carol) Fabianke asked me and Cynthia Mendiola-Perez (associate vice chancellor for student success) to coordinate a cross-college team to work on student learning outcomes for SDEV and the new Learning Framework course.
“We made this very clear to the group that our position at that point was not to deal with the where-it-lives, or who-does-this or who-does-that,” he said. “Our mission was to develop those SLOs because they’re two distinct curriculums. One is SDEV, one (Learning Framework) is more meta-cognition, more theory. It was very clearly two different courses.”
In the process of developing student learning outcomes for the course, Vela’s team wanted to embed Covey’s principles outlined in “Seven Habits of Highly Effective People.”
“As a result, Covey came in and said, ‘we’ll help you facilitate this discussion,’” Vela said.
There were no designated discipline-oriented faculty present to represent the colleges, Vela said. “And we have yet to see the final product. We still need to look at it and see if it makes sense.”
Fine arts Chair Jeff Hunt said, “I don’t think that the faculty at large believe that was enough input.”
“And I agree,” Zeigler said. “And that’s the real issue.”
“What I’m wondering is if that’s what Dr. Leslie is using that committee as saying there was faculty involvement,” Hunt said.
“That’s exactly what he was talking about,” Vela said.
Zeigler said, “It seems to me that in this case, there were concerns of expediting this. That the concern about going through the process, we wouldn’t get it done in time. Surely, we can find ways to follow policy and procedure and still expedite things that need to be expedited … still having time for discussion.”
Vela said, “I think the problem that we’re facing right now is that we don’t have a mechanism, whether it’s a policy, procedure or a process with which we can expedite these types of things.”