We received permission to repost Trustee Clint Kingsbery’s most recent Facebook post. Please do come to the Board meeting at Sheridan on Tuesday night, 6pm.
Call to Action:
Friends, I’m reaching out to get as many in the community to our scheduled board meeting.
Tuesday Dec. 16th at 6:00
201 W. Sheridan
We are addressing the removal of Majors from diplomas and transcripts and potentially replacing them with “Transfer Major”.
I’ve spoken with many who are concerned that this change will negatively impact our students. In fact, I’ve not heard any arguments for this change and how it’s being implemented. I’ve been posting updates on this issue for some time now, and I’m sure my position on this matter is quite clear. I was voted onto the board to represent my constituents. I serve the community, and in this matter, I feel we’ve rushed headlong into something that will hurt the community.
Below is a notice I’ve been posting to let the community know the situation. I want some feedback, but more than anything I want people to come to the board meeting and stand with others in voicing their concerns about this change.
Please let me know your opinion as well, I tried to be thorough and address the arguments that have been presented. Please share this with anyone who lives in Bexar county, as they are all affected by this change, and should be aware of what is happening.
The Alamo colleges are removing Majors from degrees, and the community barely knows this.
In April of 2014 (during my campaign) the PVC (Presidents and Vice-Chancellors) passed an initiative to essentially remove academic majors from the diploma and transcripts. The board never voted on the issue as it was presented as a technical issue that did not warrant the board’s involvement. The issue was mostly forgotten and didn’t show up again until Fox News covered it on Sept. 18th in an evening segment.
This was the very first time I’d heard of the issue, but it was an early story with little details. This led to a deeper look into the change that had happened and how it would ultimately affect our students and the community as a whole.
Through efforts of those directly connected to the issues, as well as those of a few other board members, we’ve made some very worrisome discoveries in regard to this change. Students who registered for the first time with us in Fall of 2014 were under the new catalog, which had changed in April with little notice. All students who graduate under that catalog will not receive a degree with a major in their respective field (with regard to an A.A. or A.S. degree). What students will now receive is simply an A.A. or A.S. with no major attached. A student who would normally be able to get an A.S. degree in mathematics will now get only an A.S. degree, for example.
The transcript calls these degrees “Transfer Majors,” which were designed to ease in the transfer process from a 2-year institution to a 4-year institution. However, this is done with a sacrifice to the content of the programs the students are trying to get a degree in. It was asked whether this new degree would have the same level of rigor as the traditional degree. The response was that the new degree would transfer more easily, but there was no direct response to the question. I believe this is due to how the transfer degrees work.
Students at Alamo Colleges take 42 core hours and 18 concentration hours in their specific field of study. This constitutes the 60 hours required for an associate’s degree. The idea behind the transfer major is that students will take the 42 hour core and then take what would essentially be a few courses in the field of study and filled in with transferable electives. This means that, yes, the hours will probably transfer to the school of choice (assuming the student worked with a competent adviser who ensured the classes would be accepted), but they won’t necessarily enhance the student’s understanding of the subject matter or work toward the baccalaureate degree.
So what does this mean to the average taxpayer? The Alamo Colleges is a taxing entity, and therefore, you support our school with your property taxes as well as whatever contribution we receive from the state. This change is taking a reasonably valuable associate’s degree and devaluing it to the point of a transfer degree. When I imagine sending my son off to school at some point in the future, I expect him to get a degree for the money and time spent, not a degree that works only as a transfer document. I would simply have him take only 42 hours and get out of there without the degree if that were the case. Unfortunately, that thought process will hurt the colleges significantly as a portion of our funds are tied to graduation rates. Ironically, I’m told this entire change is geared to increase graduation rather than the more obvious effect of people not wanting to waste their time on classes that may transfer, but don’t build into their major.
A scenario that was presented to me and made a good point about the whole thing was this:
As an employer looking to hire someone, given the choice between 2 potential candidates, one who has an AA in business, and another who has an AA with transfer major in business, who would you choose? I suspect you would pick the candidate who has an actual degree in business. That is unacceptable. We should be offering out students the best possible value for the money that is spent to get a degree. To have it watered down is ridiculous.
Concerning transfer, we have maintained a good relationship with the local colleges through 2+2 programs and other initiatives that ensure that many of our students classes transfer to the 4-year universities. The idea that the transfer major will actually improve transferability is borne of a misconception that we are having difficulties in getting our courses transferred to the universities.
The irony is that the Alamo colleges already has a program available for students that suits this very need and does so without sacrificing Majors for all of our AA and AS students. Even worse, these changes could possible hurt the accreditation of 3 colleges that are currently working on their review process. Though nothing concrete, I’ve heard from reliable sources that this could very easily cause some serious problems with SACSCOC (our accreditation firm). I’m still waiting to get confirmation, but the fact that it has been brought up is concerning enough, considering we’re still working to get Northeast Lakeview College accredited.
Once again, we’re seeing those who are in positions of leadership, wielding their power irresponsibly, and not working with the community they serve to ensure the best for our students. Even if the program were the best path, the lack of transparency, lack of public engagement, and the lack of board involvement is very concerning.
Thank you very much for looking this over and sharing the information. I’m hoping to get people involved in this decision from the community, as it’s happening with minimal community input.
Please pass along this information to everyone, and try to bring a presence to fight these outlandish changes:
When: December 16th at 6:00 pm.
Where: At our downtown office at 201 W. Sheridan St.
I’m hoping you can gather a number of people to come and sign up for Citizens to be Heard to offer your own opinions on the matter and express concern over the change. Sign ups start at 5:00 pm and ends at 5:55 pm.