After this week’s Board meeting revelations we couldn’t help but draw parallels to the misinformation campaign waged by Fox News.
We also received a report that at today’s “Pizza with the President” Dr. Vela regurgitated the same misinformation re: SACSCOC as the driving force behind the degree change. If this is true, then we hope The Ranger calls him on it as hard as the Board did to Fabianke.
Texas Public Radio: Alamo Colleges Students Voice ‘Generic’ Degree Concerns to Board; Trustees Seem to Hear Their Voice
Express-News: Anger erupts at Alamo Colleges over diploma change
Trustee Clint Kingsbery: October 30 post via Facebook
The Ranger: Students, public protest against transfer degrees
The Ranger, again: Trustees hash it out over transfer degrees
It’s troubling that Vice Chancellor Jo-Carol Fabianke is still using the twin spectres of THECB and SACS accreditation as a reason why we’re making this change. Communications from both of those organizations fail to address this issue specifically, instead leaving it up to the District’s “interpretation.” We’re glad to hear Trustee Alderete express concern over this misinformation.
Also troubling is college and District administration’s inability to clearly explain just HOW getting rid of OUR degrees will equal a higher rate of course transfer to other institutions. As one student mentioned at the Board meeting, students can already request and get course substitutions under the current degree system. So why do this at all? Why run an experiment on our students that has caused nothing but ill will and anger and suspicion?
If the Alamo Colleges were an actual corporation, someone would be getting FIRED for this bad rollout. The mismanagement of the degree plan issue has hurt our brand. And it’s the students who suffer and the Board of Trustees who will be held accountable come election time. The Chancellor and PVC go about their merry way with absolutely ZERO accountability.
What will the Board do? What CAN the Board do? We’re sure that they are angry and frustrated, too. We’ll see what happens in the coming weeks and months. Students have found their voice and they won’t shut up about this. Good. Students first. It’s the Alamo Way.
Last night’s Board meeting was a real barn burner! See the video here. Citizens to be Heard starts at minute 30 and lasts for a little over an hour. 20 people signed up to speak. It was a mix of student groups, single students, graduates, concerned parents, grandparents, community members and faculty. The Board discussion regarding transfer degrees begins at the 2hr 52 minute mark.
We’ll post highlights later tonight. We’re also hoping to get a copy of some of the speeches, so if you have copies or know someone who has copies please send them our way: firstname.lastname@example.org
- PAC Student Leadership Coalition. Putting “community” back into our community colleges.
- Enedina Kikuyu. What an awesome advocate for the students, the colleges and the community.
- Trustee Gene Sprague interrupts a student speaker to deny he said what he said (see post below from The Ranger)
- Student speaker: “PAC President Mike Flores. You let us down.”
- Trustee Yvonne Katz gets called on her “old farts” comment from that Insider Higher Ed article.
- Real stats on student transfer rates are nowhere near 80% quoted by administrators.
- Student speaker: “TWO DOLLARS AND 13 CENTS AN HOUR AS A WAITRESS AND YOU WANT TO TELL ME MY COLLEGE DEGREE DOESN’T MATTER?!?”
- Someone in the audience told Trustee Zarate to quit surfing on his computer during the presentations. “You’re being very disrespectful to the students, sir.”
- Student speaker: “I feel like this is heading towards a standardized diploma and degree….like a high school degree. Is this change for the market? Or will this really be beneficial to us?”
- Community leader and mother of SAC student reminds Trustee Alderete how good she is at getting people elected. “I’m really good at getting people out to vote, right, Mr. Alderete?”
- 69 year old SAC graduate and mother: “We’ve always had a transfer degree plan! This is not new! When you tell us “that’s the real world” I agree. THIS is the real world. THIS is OUR community college.”
- Recent nursing graduate: “I’ve already graduated, this doesn’t affect me, but I’m here because this is VERY upsetting to me. What value does it have to y’all in taking away our degrees?”
- Student presenter: “I don’t want my kids coming here because y’all are doing underhanded stuff!”
- Student presenter: “”The administrators don’t know what’s going on. How will removing my degree help me transfer? HOW? As a student, I know what I want. I know what I need. I don’t need you, the administrators, telling me what’s best for me. I can talk to the advisors myself about substituting classes so they’ll transfer. You don’t have to take away majors to do that.”
- Student and service member quotes Covey 7 Habits back at the Chancellor.
- Local college administrator: “Am I confident that the process of this decision has been respectful and inclusive of the 60,000 students I’ve been elected to serve? Inclusive of faculty members and advisors of those who work with students closely on a daily basis? Have I asked what matters to students? Have I considered putting myself in their shoes? If you answered NO to any questions, can you honestly support removing degrees from our programs?”
- Craig Coroneos, NVC faculty member: “THECB and SACS have nothing to do with this decision. Let’s talk about being “data-informed.” This is an idea, an experiment, and our students are guinea pigs. Declaring a major and having a specific goal — research studies show that THIS MATTERS FOR STUDENT SUCCESS. According to the SA Police Academy web site: applicants who have an AA in criminal justice have a better shot at being accepted.
- Student presenter: “I will get a career with my AA. I won’t transfer to a 4 year institution. So…..that degree doesn’t matter?!? I want that specified concentration on my degree. It matters to ME.”
Take a listen here. The comment section looks a little lonely. Won’t you add your thoughts?
You don’t want to miss the Board meeting down at Sheridan tonight. Students are madder than hell and for good reason. They’ll be presenting tonight during Citizens to be Heard on this whole degree debacle. And who is fanning the flames? Trustee Sprague. Yikes.
From our friends at PAC AAUP:
“Sure universities will like that you’ve gotten that degree, but other than that, someone who just gets an AA or AS and tries to enter the workforce is essentially in the same category as the drop out. And if you don’t like how that sounds, I’m sorry, but that’s the real world. The concentration is really just to make students feel better and carries no real value.” (Trustee Gene Sprague, The Ranger, Oct 27, 2014) (http://issuu.com/theranger/docs/combined_pdfs10-27-14/1?e=1182678/9861331)
Same category as the drop out? Then why isn’t the rest of the country just dropping all AA and AS degrees? Then what’s the point in having AA and AS degrees at all? Maybe to some, it DOES matter.
“Just to make students feel better and carries no real value.” Is that all that we are doing when some students choose to declare a major in AA Humanities or AA Mexican American studies or AA in Psychology?
The data seems to suggest that an Associates Degree matters. See the table below.
Earnings and unemployment rates by educational attainment
Earnings and unemployment rates by educational attainment
Unemployment rate in 2013 (Percent)
Median weekly earnings
Some college, no degree
High school diploma
Less than a high school diploma
|Note: Data are for persons age 25 and over. Earnings are for full-time wage and salary workers.
Source: Current Population Survey, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
These education categories reflect only the highest level of education attained. They do not take into account completion of training programs in the form of apprenticeships and other on-the-job training, which may also influence earnings and unemployment rates. For more information on training, see: http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_education_summary.htm and http://www.bls.gov/emp/ep_table_education_by_train.htm.
BLS has some data on the employment status of the civilian noninstitutional population 25 years and over by educational attainment, sex, race, and Hispanic origin online.
The Census Bureau also has some data on educational attainment online.
Last Modified Date: March 24, 2014
The Board of Trustees committee meetings take place tonight down at Sheridan. This is where the real action happens. What’s on the agenda?
6pm – Student Success Committee – there will be a presentation about “majors” – note the last slide which glosses over student concerns.
7:30pm – Building, Grounds, Site Selection Committee – take a look at the hastily thrown together ppt from ITS – could we get a little more information on each slide and fewer blurry graphics?
8:30pm – Policy and Long Range Planning Committee – a whole lot of policy revisions
9:30pm – Audit, Budget, Finance Committee – tuition and fee changes for some specialized courses, online tutoring services and money money money
Watch online here.
Our old friend the Lumina Foundation is pushing right along with it’s goal for “graduating” more students via competency-based education. Check out their Degree Qualifications Profile. It lists the competencies required for an associate, bachelor’s and master’s level degree in any field. Pair this with “direct assessments” provided by organizations like CAEL and you can do a complete end-run around the slow, clunky, traditional “seat time” model of our local colleges.
But wait, there’s more!
With the Department of Education loosening the rules on how federal student aid money can be spent…well, follow the money. Students can now use those federal student aid dollars to pay for CAEL assessments instead of taking college courses. Just to make sure you understand: FEDERAL STUDENT AID MONEY WILL BYPASS OUR LOCAL COLLEGES AND GO STRAIGHT INTO THE POCKETS OF CAEL.
Oh, and did we mention that Chancellor Bruce Leslie is the treasurer for CAEL? Did we also mention that the District has a sole-source contract with CAEL for their employee training and student assessment services? We did.
See this recent NPR story for more on competency-based education. This is the hot topic in higher ed, y’all. Study up.