PAC students have been busy this week and have the ink to prove it:
- Alamo Colleges Students Plan to Protest Degree Changes (Fox 29)
- Major Woes: Students at Alamo Colleges Raise Their Voices Against Degree Changes (TPR)
- Students protest new degree policy at Alamo Colleges (KSAT)
Texas Public Radio also did a story where Vice Chancellor Jo-Carol Fabianke again raised the spectre of SACS accreditation as one of the reasons why the change was made:
Another factor playing into this is a cultural shift in degree awards for schools under the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, which awards accreditation.
“In Southern Association we know that there are more and more schools going toward what we are talking about, which is trying to ensure that we guiding students towards classes that are going to count,” says Fabianke.
As we reported in our last post, this change has nothing to do with accreditation. Administrators keep talking in circles hoping faculty and students get tired enough to eventually just shut up and agree.
Going back to the recent Inside Higher Ed article for a moment – there’s another comment which caught our eye. From commenter “therestofthestory”:
This decision to go with only AA and AS programs was made three years ago by the request of the one college that has yet to be accredited to make their SACS assessment process cleaner. A second college made the change in 2012 based on an understanding that all of the five would also be doing it. But they wanted to see how SACS would respond first. New outcomes and new assessment were written. Since SACS agreed that the majors were insubstantial at best, there was no substantial change. It went through with no issues. The problem arose when the degrees still read that they were graduating with majors, but SACS is being told there are no majors. Bad discrepancy during an reaffirmation cycle, which three of the five are currently in. Since the colleges all have to be doing the same thing because of the BANNER system (they are not singularly accredited, but share a common enrollment system in which everything is mirrored), everyone had to have majors on their diplomas or give them up. The administrators at the college level have been aware of this transition for at least 2 years, so it’s really just an example of poor communication and a lack of transparency and trust in a system that does excellent work educating students. I wish these institutions made headlines for their exceptional teaching instead.
Does this ring true to anyone else out there? If so, then are administrators just trying to spin this mistake as something positive like “helping students transfer credits?”
Another issue brought up in the comments by “Hannah”:
The other issue has to do with scholarship applications which often require a declared major. This move will impact community college students earning those scholarships, particularly transfer students, as well as students in STEM programs, Phi Theta Kappa, and other honors students.
Decisions made at the top without shared governance – involving faculty, staff and students – have resulted in a massive failure in District and College leadership.