Month: September 2015

“Don’t give them choices. Tell them what the hell to do!”

A stirring quote from our old friend Bill Hammond, head of the Texas Association of Business. Here’s more from the TCCTA Blog:


“Don’t Give Them Choices”

Posted: 21 Sep 2015 02:57 PM PDT

The Texas Association of Business recently hosted an event to highlight the Coordinating Board’s sixty-thirty Texas plan—to have sixty percent of young adults with post secondary degrees or certificates, by 2030. Right now, it’s under 40 percent. The event was covered by KXAN TV in Austin.

You can access the entire plan here. Here’s a recent piece on the subject by Enrique Rangel, published in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal.

Bill Hammond, who heads the TAB, gave up some choice quotes on one component of the effort to get more students through the educational pipeline:

CEO Bill Hammond says the key is getting students to leave college with marketable skills that will get them jobs.

“They don’t wind up taking the courses they need as freshman and then they get to their senior year and they can’t get into them. Structure. Don’t give them choices. Tell them what the hell to do,” said Hammond.

You may remember Mr. Hammond as the chief person responsible for posting billboards a few years ago, criticizing low graduation rates at local community colleges. He is an important figure at the Capitol.

No one wants college students to rattle around on campus directionless for years, and there are few human specimens more confused than the typical 18-year old college freshman. However, as we know, the core curriculum limits choices already, in the sense that certain courses are required, and some get left out, due most recently to mandated caps on classes that do not fall within stipulated fields of study.

The college experience traditionally involves experimentation and exploration. How many of us decided as teenagers that we wanted to teach at a community college? If you ask around, it is rare to find individuals who knew their chosen path at a tender age. Besides, education should prepare you for many paths.

Ironically, the present push for more conformity runs counter to another prevalent trend in higher education—inserting market forces and consumerism into the culture. Free markets purportedly offer customers more options, not the other way around.

Such policies, of necessity, involve balance and compromise. But we may be leaning too far in one direction, marching efficiently to the cookie cutter.

Leslie lowers the boom: elimination of majors as a District policy

We haven’t posted anything since the summer and we apologize for that. What we have been doing is talking to a lot of people and gathering a ton of information. We’ll be posting about various issues over the next week or so but the most pressing item is the elimination of majors at ALL the Alamo Colleges. This time around Chancellor Bruce Leslie is asking the Board of Trustees to vote on the elimination of majors as a District policy at the next regular Board meeting. And once it is District policy? The option to offer majors at each independently accredited college is gone.

Here’s more from our colleagues at PAC AAUP:

The price of not listening to students and faculty when crafting Board policy can have significant adverse effects on students. The policy proposal to remove Majors serves as a clear example. Some students and faculty had already brought this to my attention but it was made supremely clear when I was provided with a link to the many scholarships and funds available specifically to students who are enrolled in discipline-specific degrees (that is, Majors).

Many scholarships awarded to freshman and sophomore students are specific to Majors.  In other words, they need to have declared a MAJOR in order to apply and, in most cases, need to be enrolled in a bonafide discipline-specific degree program.  Millions of dollars are dispersed to economically disadvantaged students on the basis of 1) need and 2) declared major.

Yet, the wisdom of the Alamo Colleges District is to REMOVE majors.  And now they are recommending to the Alamo Colleges Board of Directors that ALL colleges (PAC, SAC, NVC, SPC, NLC) MUST abide by a proposed policy to remove majors across the District.   Why?  Allegedly, because it will make it easier to transfer students and increase completion rates.  Yet, not a shred of evidence has been provided to prove that this will happen.  Faculty across the district have serious doubts.

In fact, it may even have damaging effects on students efforts to 1) obtain scholarship funds and 2) have a competitive degree when seeking employment.  Yet Bruce Leslie has said to the Board of Directors:

If you complete only your AA and AS degree [and not pursue a BS/BA degree]  “you don’t have a lot to offer an employer.”  (statement made at Sept 8 Subcommittee meeting of the Board of Directors) 

There is not a shred of evidence across all the community college research institutes across the country to support this.   How is this good for our students?

Thanks a lot Dr. Leslie!  First, it’s not true.  Second, you just invalidated 2 years of hard-earned college credit by our students.  With that logic, why even have community colleges?

Have they done their due diligence to figure out how many students (and how much money) will be deprived of scholarships funds if they remove majors?  Do they have hard data to prove that students will not be affected?  I have not seen any data (they usually brush it off with a simple sentence, “Oh, we checked and it won’t affect them.”  But no one gets to see the information they claim to have reviewed. )

My concern:

If majors are permanently removed from Palo Alto College, will students be kept from qualifying from scholarship money?

If they are, are we going to face a class action lawsuit from students (especially minority students) who feel could not apply for a scholarship because they could not declare a major?

The cost of not listening to students, faculty and the community could be staggering.  We’re already paying $58 million dollars for the Crystal Palace (new District administration building) without public input and have spent MILLIONS of dollars on Covey’s 7 Habits training that is required for ALL faculty and staff to complete.  Covey’s 7 Habits was sole sourced and not reviewed by faculty–and most faculty are saying that it was a waste of their time and contributes minimally to their teaching effectiveness.

Feel free to browse through the websites below.  They take you to the many scholarships available nationwide specifically for students who have declared a MAJOR.

Folks,  I can only do so much in advocating for our students.  The Faculty Senate at PAC has unanimously asserted that removing majors would be a big mistake.

A community college is about the community.  We need the community to help students reclaim what they deserve:  pride and ownership of their college.  Which means, having the option to declare a major that is important to them.  But they cannot win this without your help.  PAC AAUP supports the students.    They need ALL of our help!

I’d like to thank the readers (faculty, students and community groups) who provide me with this valuable information.  I disseminate this information in hopes that you do something with this information.  Without you, the readers, I wouldn’t have much to write about.  So keep sending me your thoughts/ideas/information.

Tony Villanueva

PAC AAUP President

Scholarships By Major

Scholarships By Major