Fall schedules readied with Coordinating Board’s approval of EDUC 1300

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Faculty aren’t backing down in opposition of the core change.

By Bleah B. Patterson

Yesterday, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approved a core change that will replace three hours of humanities in the core curriculum with a student development course, EDUC 1300, Learning Framework.

THECB communicated the approval via email.

Despite great faculty resistance, Rex Peebles, THECB assistant commissioner of workforce, academic affairs, sent an email Tuesday, to this college’s Faculty Senate President Dawn Elmore in response to a Super Senate letter and petition.

In the email, Peebles explained the decision would be made based on the course itself, and not the process by which it was proposed.

“I have reviewed the documentation carefully … particularly the core submission process documentation. I believe I understand the disparate positions of the Faculty Senates and the Chancellor and the grounds for disagreement regarding the process … The inclusion or exclusion is based on whether the course meets one or more of the Foundation Component Area Definitions and addresses the applicable core objectives,” he wrote.

Now each college will work feverishly to finalize schedules for the hundreds of sections that need to be added across the district to ensure fall 2014 implementation.

Gary Ergish, Northeast Lakeview College vice president for academic success, said,  “It was requested by the district that we start out with 10 sections,” he said.

They will be starting out slow, since the only students who will need to take this course are those enrolling in degree plans for the first time, Ergish said.

Students who have already begun their degree plans will not need to take the course unless they change their plan in the fall.

Students have until the end of the Summer 2 session to change degree plans without being required to take the course.

“Now we have a boom in enrollment, we might need to adjust those numbers,” Ergish said. “We are also looking at offering anywhere from 25 to 30 sections in the spring.”

The bigger problem may be finding enough qualified instructors; a master’s degree in education is required to teach the course.

Alternatively, a master’s degree in another discipline with 18 hours of education will suffice.

While psychology instructors also are qualified to teach the course, Ergish said Northeast Lakeview’s primary focus is education.

Dr. Thomas Billimek, chair of psychology and sociology at this college, said Feb. 11 at a college council meeting, he would not approve any of the faculty in his department to teach EDUC 1300, because he strongly believes the course is not in students best interest.

Palo Alto College’s administration meets today to discuss implementation.

“As of right now, we’re looking at 40 sections, but that’s really the only thing we know,” said Yolanda Reyna, chair of student development at the South Side college.

This college is planning 125 sections and Northwest Vista College is anticipating 80 sections.

To make room for the additional course in the core, eight beginning creative arts classes were denied inclusion in the core for 2014.

Antonio “Tony” Villanueva, chair of behavioral sciences at Palo Alto said his faculty members are not happy about this and will not stop fighting.

“Humanities are too important,” Villanueva said. “It should not be able to be replaced like this.”

Villanueva said humanities are in no way comparable to EDUC 1300, “It’s not just a job, humanities complements math and science. It’s what brings everything together,” he said.

Belinda Roman, economics professor at Palo Alto, said she doesn’t agree that this core change is going to produce the most attractive student in the workforce.

“In business, we’d like students to have as broad a perspective as possible. This course will be limiting perspective, while humanities broadens it,” Roman said.

“Higher education isn’t just about literature or art; it’s about humans,” she said. “It’s sensitive the humanity in a big way. It instills morality and ethics into students, and if you ask me, that’s exactly what we need in business. Not ‘soft skills’.”

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