Trustee Kingsbery sounds off on degree plan debacle

Posted just now over at Trustee Clint Kingsbery’s Facebook page is an explanation of the degree plan debacle (as it was explained to him by Chancellor Leslie) along with Clint’s thoughts and questions. Please visit his page and leave comments and questions so that can continue to explore this issue. Here is his post:

Clint Kingsbery ACCD Trustee District 8
29 minutes ago

A number of folks have been contacting me about the degree situation that was recently announced and covered by Fox News. I’ll take this opportunity to share with you what I know of it.

I first became aware of the situation shortly before my town hall at NVC, though the details were sparse and I personally had zero information on it. I thought it was a misunderstanding of the “Pathways” program we had been hearing about, and no one else brought it up.

It was only this past week that things exploded into full bloom. The coverage from Fox News and the letters that went out really fleshed out the situation. It obviously demanded some attention and I needed some details. I had a meeting with Chancellor Leslie on Friday afternoon, shortly before the letter went out from Jo-Carol Fabianki, and I asked about the situation. I got a light description of what was going on, but essentially our hands were tied by SACS. Allow me to explain:

A number of years ago THECB cut the number of hours required for an Associates degree. Intentionally or not, this ultimately gave us too few hours to actually have our degrees qualify as majors. We had yet to comply to this change until very recently (thus the memo). If we did not comply, we would risk our accreditation from SACS as we would have been going against the standard set by THECB.

So, rather than risk the accreditation of all the colleges, we had to fall into place and remove the term “majors” from the degrees, making them the generic degrees.

Now that’s what I understand from the situation. I do think that the message was significantly miscommunicated, and I expressed as such in my meeting. The whole thing should have been expressed to incoming students, rather than them finding out a few weeks into the semester. I also fail to see the positive spin on this. It feels like we were forced into this. Why not point out that the issue is with THECB and not ACCD.

What I’d like to explore is a way to ensure that students who concentrate in a particular field have that communicated on the degree in some way. Certainly we can find a way to do that, and give students a sense of accomplishment in their degree, rather than a generic degree.

I was reading this article published by the ranger

http://www.theranger.org/2014/09/22/generic-degrees-awarded-in-lieu-of-specified-major/

and I found a number of things to be quite worrisome. It wasn’t until nearly the end of the piece when it was pointed out that this change really comes down to the accreditation issue, but it feels like it spends the majority of the time trying to justify this change as something positive. I just don’t see it personally.

“The generic A.A. or A.S. degree allows an adviser and student to select courses that are aligned with the degree plans of senior institutions “as opposed to a set plan that may or may not apply to that particular institution,” he said.”

Which is great, but what about those who do not intend to transfer to a 4-year institution? There are a number of details on this I still need to get information on.

So where does that leave us? I’m going to be checking into this. I want to see if other community colleges in Texas have the same requirements and situation, or if we’re unique in this regard. If the other schools in Texas are under these same rules, I don’t see how we can get around it, but if not, then there will be some very important discussions as to why not.

Rest assured, it is my absolute goal to ensure that students get the highest quality of education with our schools. This issue is a monster, and must be dealt with swiftly and with good facts and information. I do not want to jump to conclusions too quickly without considering all of the information that is out there. If you are aware of the issues I portrayed above and would like to elaborate on them more thoroughly, please feel free to contact me: 210-872-8305. Just text or leave a VM if I don’t answer.

Thank you all for your support.

One comment

  1. Thank you Mr. Kingsbery for looking into this matter promptly and with an objective and clear head. Once again our administration did made policy decisions without consulation of the faculty, students, and now even board members. It seems like the Chancellor’s mandate to improve District communications is ignored. It is amazing to me that individuals who have never taught a single class (or individuals who’ve forgotten what it is like to teach in a classroom) fail to communicate with individuals who make a personal an financial commitment to a quality education. Our president’s comment that who stated that the purpose of an AA is “not to get a job” is shooting himself if the foot and belittling all community colleges. There are many employers who look at an AA with a major (or two) as a person who has expertise and therefore is better qualitifed. Please keep us up to date and informed. Good job.

What do you think?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s