“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


NVC faculty to Chancellor Leslie: Four Questions

At January’s Board of Trustees meeting, Dr. Mike Settles from San Antonio College was the lone speaker during Citizens to Be Heard:

Our colleagues at PAC AAUP summarized the following from his address:
  • “The most productive employees are happy employees.  Dr. Leslie has said that it is not his job to make employees happy.”
  • “Faculty morale is at the lowest it has ever been.”
  • “Dr Leslie has been untruthful in….” [several items are mentioned]
  • Regarding the management of money:  “Smaller amount of money goes to instruction and more and more to District.”
  • “Texas A&M University spends 3.6% of its budget on administration.  According to the SAC Ranger [Alamo Colleges] is spending 34% of our budget on administration.”
Please watch.  His remarks begin at 22:30.

On February 3, Chancellor Bruce Leslie responded to Dr. Settles by pounding out a 9 page screed which begins:

Dear Board of Trustees,
In response to the comments made by Alamo Colleges – San Antonio College faculty member, Dr. Mike Settles, at the Regular meeting of the Board of Trustees on January 20, 2015, and in an effort to promote transparency and responsiveness, I offer the following fact-based points for your consideration…

Please read the full response from Dr. Leslie. It’s a doozy chock full of cherry-picked data.

So on February 25, the NVC faculty senate and NVC AAUP chapter sent a 7 page response to Dr. Leslie and the Board of Trustees which begins:
We faculty at Northwest Vista College have read your response to the concerns raised by Dr. Settles during the December, 2014 Board of Trustees meeting. As public servants at a public institution founded upon the principle of shared governance, we have an obligation to not only develop curriculum and teach our students, but to advocate for adequate classroom resources to accomplish these ends effectively.
With these goals in mind, we are concerned that the “fact-based” claims in your letter, particularly about the budget, seem quite at odds with what we are experiencing at this college. Our average class size has grown to such a degree that our full-time instructors are teaching the equivalent of an extra section of students, for virtually the same pay. At the same time, we have seen too heavy a reliance on part-time faculty to such a degree that it has begun to get the attention of our accrediting agency.
From the perspective of our students, this could mean less interaction with the instructor, a shift to less “grading intensive” (i.e. less academically rigorous) work, and an increased likelihood that their instructors will be contingent adjuncts, not required to hold office hours and likely working at one or more other institutions (See CCSSE data chart below). Given the disconnect between your budget data and our daily experience with students on campus, we wish to pose a few questions to you in the spirit of a principle you embrace: “Seek first to understand…”
Four big questions are then posed:
1. How do you explain the dramatic drop in Instructional Expenditures per FTE student from 2008-2012 at Northwest Vista College, and where did this money go during these years?
2. Are our administrative costs really not growing as District administration has burgeoned?
3. Are you and the Board aware of the negative impact these budget cuts to “Instructional Expenditures” have had on our students?
4. Are you aware that your policies are putting the fiscal viability of the colleges and District in jeopardy by increasing the administrative overhead at the District while pursuing policies that have actually led to enrollment decreases and thus reduced state funding?
Here is NVC’s full response, complete with graphs. This is an absolute MUST READ for everyone in the community as this is only a snapshot of the larger havoc Dr. Leslie’s poor leadership has heaped upon the Alamo Colleges.


SAC AAUP Spring Membership Drive

Why join AAUP?

Joining the AAUP says that you’re concerned about academic freedom, and about the way that basic freedom protects your teaching and research. It says that participating in faculty governance is important to you, and that you are concerned about career issues, tenure, and the overuse of contingent faculty. By joining, faculty members, academic professionals, and graduate students help to shape the future of our profession and proclaim their dedication to the education community. In addition, there are many practical benefits–discounts, insurance programs, financial incentives–available to AAUP members.

What does the SAC AAUP chapter do?

Shared governance at the Alamo Colleges has drastically eroded in the last few years. Committee recommendations are regularly ignored, decisions affecting the college community are often top-down, and grievances and concerns are not taken seriously. A list of advocacy issues are available on our website: http://sacaaup.org

Because it exists independently from the college, SAC AAUP can organize full-time AND adjunct faculty in a way that current institutional organizations cannot. AAUP chapters at SAC, SPC, PAC and NVC are working with other organizations in San Antonio to shed light on administrative self-interest and deception as well as aggressively pursue grievances with the assistance of the national office.

SAC AAUP chapter membership requires two things:

  1. Membership at the national level (http://www.aaup.org/AAUP/involved/join/)
  2. Payment of local chapter dues

National AAUP membership costs are based on a sliding scale according to salary. SAC AAUP chapter dues are $25 a year, due each Spring semester.

Ready to join SAC AAUP?

Email us at sacaaup@gmail.com stating your intent to join and we will make it so! Additionally, a new member reception will be held at SAC on:

  • Day: Monday, February 16, 2015
  • Time: 3:15pm-5pm
  • Place: MLC 208 (library classroom)

You may bring your chapter dues of $25 during that time.