The rush to implement leaves “a lot of ifs.”
By Bleah Patterson
During the Feb. 11 College Council meeting, this college’s president, Dr. Robert Zeigler, echoed faculty districtwide voicing concerns about the process used to implement the controversial implementation of EDUC 1300, Learning Framework, replacing three humanities hours with a student development course.
Zeigler said he worried that the decision was made so quickly the proper faculty were not consulted and the implementation may be sloppy.
District officials have said if the implementation was not rushed to meet a deadline from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, implementation would have to be postponed a full year.
Faculty were shocked to learn Chancellor Bruce Leslie had submitted the proposal to the Coordinating Board without their input, and the proposal had been approved.
The Super Senate, a representative body of the senates at four of the colleges, sent a petition to the Coordinating Board complaining the chancellor had violated procedures in cutting faculty out of the decision.
More than two weeks after Zeigler voiced his concern, English, reading and education Chair Mike Burton and Northwest Vista College’s humanities Chair Charles Hinkley are seeing the evidence of this as they prepare their fall 2014 schedules.
Schedule building began Feb. 14 and will continue through March 23 to prepare for fall registration April 7.
NVC is preparing for 80 sections of EDUC 1300, but Hinkley said faculty members worry there won’t be enough qualified faculty.
Dr. Jo-Carol Fabianke, vice chancellor for academic success, said anyone with 18 hours in education or psychology can teach the class. “That may be extended to counselors, and some, but not all, of our current Student Development (SDEV) 0370 instructors will be able to teach the course,” she said.
SDEV 0370, Foundations for College Learning, still will be required for students with fewer than 15 hours who require remediation in two areas.
Fabianke said students in certificate programs won’t need either SDEV 0370 or EDUC 1300.
“Certificate courses will strongly recommend either a Learning Framework course or an SDEV course depending on individual student requirements, but they won’t be required,” she said.
Only students beginning a degree in fall 2014 will be affected.
“We still have a lot of if’s,” Fabianke said. “It’s all been talked about but not finalized.”
Burton said the problem is that no matter how many hours students come to the Alamo Colleges with, they would still have to take EDUC 1300 to earn an associate degree. He also worries about the toll it will take on humanities, philosophy and literature enrollment.
“Enrollment is basically nudging downward,” Burton said. “It is a continuing process that just keeps looking more and more bleak.”
Since the 2009 core change that broadened the second humanities requirement from only sophomore literature to world cultures, foreign languages and philosophy courses, English sections have been reduced from 366 sections to 238.
This college still hasn’t decided on how many sections of EDUC 1300 to offer.“One number thrown around was 140 sections,” Burton said. “But that’s the problem, we don’t know. We haven’t even seen the course. We are completely in the dark.”
Currently, instructors allowed to teach the course need 18 hours in education or psychology.
District is considering making exceptions to that rule, letting humanities, philosophy, English, and foreign language instructors teach the course since these will most likely be the departments losing sections.
Fabianke said some student development instructors would be able to teach the course.
Hinkley said, “My worry is: Are the people teaching these courses really going to be qualified? They’re already making all of these exceptions instead of just taking it slow and making sure they’re prepared before they start this thing.
“It just looks like they’re using this course to start us on a downward spiral to becoming vocational schools,” he said.
Burton voiced a similar concern. “We send kids to good universities, to Rice, Amherst and Columbia. What happens now? If we take away academic rigor, we’re also limiting their aspirations. We used to be a trampoline, causing people to jump higher.”
Many questions remain, but one question won’t go away.
“This is Mickey Mouse, not academics,” Hinkley said. “There is no degree in Covey, and it’s better that way. It doesn’t make sense to any of us, and we’re wondering what the chancellor’s true motivations are.”