Math Meeting Update #1

Theresa Carlton, our math reporter, was kind enough to share this summary of the Math Faculty’s mandatory meeting last Wednesday:

John Squires, Chair of the Math Department at Chattanooga State Community College, formerly the Chair of the Math Department at Cleveland State Community College (both in Tennessee), gave a full day presentation on the National Center for Academic Transformation (NCAT) redesign guidelines and the Emporium Model redesign that he established for Cleveland State CC.  The faculty were reserved, quiet and respectful during the first hour of his presentation. Then, Mr. Squires opened the floor for questions.  Being the strong, well-informed faculty body that we are at CCC, poor Mr. Squires found himself peppered with questions about his Emporium redesign, before he even had a chance to give his presentation on it.  He addressed the questions with many “we’ll talk about that later” comments.

Michael Maltenfort of Truman College asked the question that we have all been wondering, “Would you recommend moving the developmental courses out of the hands of the full-time faculty [and into pre-credit] with this redesign?”  Mr. Squires responded that the redesign “does not work without the full-time faculty” and he would not recommend handing these courses over entirely to adjunct faculty.  As the day wore on, Mr. Squires became increasingly frustrated as our faculty brought up Union issues and teaching load requirements.  At one point, Angela Henderson, who was with us the entire day, stood up and said that she would be happy to address these questions at the end of Mr. Squires’ presentation.  This of course, never happened, but the thought was there.

After lunch, in some random, haphazard way, we were put into groups and assigned different classrooms to gather and answer a series of questions:  Would we be willing to begin the redesign with a blank slate rather than simply adopting a pre-existing redesign model? What are some of the problems with the developmental math courses? What are some possible solutions?  I think there were more questions, but given that we only had about 10 minutes to address them, we did not get that far.  We reassembled to share our answers, and then the meeting ended.

So, what am I not telling you?  Well, Keith McCoy (current Faculty Council President and Wright College Math faculty) has taken a position working at the district, beginning, I believe, at the end of this semester.  I had a private chat with Keith in which I learned that the district does not want to use the Emporium model for CCC.  This has to do with Union issues as well as lack of space and computers.  So why was Mr. Squires our guest speaker? Your guess is a good as mine.  What was the point of the meeting? To get us thinking about redesigning our developmental math classes.  As of right now, there is no plan in place, no timeline, no rules.  Basically, the district wants us to “do something”, they don’t care what, as long as it is something kind of dramatic, as opposed to just tweaking what we currently do.  Another faculty member, who spoke with Dr. Lopez, was told the exact same thing.

So, now for my opinion:

Getting the Math Faculty together to discuss developmental math, the problems, the curriculum, and possible solutions is a great idea.  However, we did not get any time to actually do this.  The presentation by John Squires, I felt, was pointless.  An Emporium model of developmental math is not something that we want, nor is it something that is feasible for the City Colleges.  There seemed to be a lot of confusion among the faculty, since administration never made clear the purpose, goals and expected outcomes of this meeting.  Are we supposed to try to adopt the Emporium Model? Are we supposed to come up with our own model? Does each college have to do the same thing, or does our autonomy still hold in this circumstance?  Is there a timeline for this? What purpose did the speaker hold?  Angela Henderson did say that she would answer questions, but then never did, even though the speaker ended 30 minutes early.  Administrative feedback was given to individual faculty, but never to the entire group, so many left not knowing what to do next.

In fact, none of us understood why it was necessary to miss a day of classes for a meeting, that, in all honesty, was a waste of time and money.  The administration would have been better off asking each department separately for ideas on how to improve the developmental math courses, and then after compiling the ideas and distributing them to us to review, they could have brought the faculty together to ask questions, debate, share, and perhaps do something productive.

Discuss.

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