As I fear we will not have time to hear all of the stories people are preparing for the next Senate meeting, here is one that is occurring in real time. No solution yet, just another blow to actual education. Please pass this on to any senators I might have missed.
The Creative Arts has been suffering from terrible decisions regarding repeatability regulations for some time. In part due to these regulations, and in part due to directives from our own administration to shrink our course offerings, a large number of our courses have been eliminated from the catalog in the past few years. Most of these courses have been courses that cater to our non-transfer bound students. Ironically, they have been many of our most popular classes, always well attended. They have been eliminated as the college is trying to push our life long learners into Community Education, even though our Community Education program is virtually non-functional, and we have no Community Education classes for them. We’ve been trying various work arounds to serve our community, but in the end, we have suffered the elimination of a great number of courses and many of our students have been forced to look elsewhere for art classes.
In late fall 2015, the Art Department received the administration’s “recommendations” on the final draft of the fall 2016 schedule of classes. They had made a number of errors, as well as deliberate changes such as block scheduling and elimination of more classes.
Jamie Dagdigian and I met with Michael to discuss the draft schedule. Michael said he would have the typos and mistakes corrected, and that our objections to the deliberate changes made sense and he would bring them to Kirin. We were hopeful.
The mistakes were corrected, but the changes stood, every one of them. There was not one single compromise made. It was as if our objections had never been voiced.
As usual, the winter break came and we accepted our fate.
Our final schedule, with all of the administration’s changes, was submitted on time in mid February. We didn’t expect any additional changes, but we were wrong. Late Wednesday March 2, Michael told John Anderson that a section of our entry-level Drawing and Composition class would be eliminated from our already pared down schedule. I was told about this on Thursday. This was the first time that our entry-level classes were being targeted. This is the first time that we were told that these decisions would now be based on retention of students during and at the completion of the semester. While we’ve had low numbers in the evening section of this class for awhile, the class always reaches the magic number of 15, and our evening students must have this class to transfer and to get a degree from MPC. Additionally, this is the class that grabs students and fosters an interest in art. Without this class, we will, within a very short time, lose our night program, as it is an advisory for everything else that we offer. Students who take Drawing and Comp are well prepared for all of our other classes. Without it, they have a much more difficult road to success.
When I heard about the elimination of this class, I met with Jamie Dagdigian, John Anderson and Gary Quinonez. We came up with a compromise. We asked Michael to offer Sketch, an abbreviated version of the drawing class, which is half the unit value, VERY popular as a summer and early spring offering, and while not the full Drawing and Comp curriculum, can serve as preparation for our other classes and is transferable. Michael’s response was to ask Kirin. Her response was to possibly offer it in Spring 2017,but not in fall 2016, as we’d now missed the deadline for the fall schedule. Apparently that deadline was the very day that we were told of the class elimination.
I don’t know the manner in which the English Department was notified of the decimation of their course offerings, but this is simply slimy. Rectifying their own errors in a way that offers those fixes as compromise, holding meetings that give us hope, ignoring the outcomes of those meetings and then handing out edicts the night before a deadline imposed by them. Eliminating entry-level classes virtually assures the loss of students in the rest of the program. This practice not only disrespects faculty expertise and institutional memory, but seems like a deliberate effort to shrink certain departments, departments that don’t have the ability, by the nature of thier courses and course delivery, to pack a lecture hall.
There is a reason that many of our departments such as Art and English are large, with a variety of course offerings. MPC has always responded to the needs of our unique community. We have been an educational beacon in this community for decades. If these practices continue, within a few semesters, we will have fewer courses in the Arts and Humanities than Carmel High School.