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Postpone sweeping changes to Cal State classes, national faculty group says

California State University at San Marcos. Rennett Stowe / Flickr Creative Commons

The American Association of University Professors has joined California State University faculty in their criticism of sweeping changes to classes ordered last year by Chancellor Tim White.

“[W]e urge you to hold the executive orders in abeyance, as requested by [CSU’s Academic Senate], and to allow the faculty to exercise primary responsibility in the curricular decisions implicated by the executive orders,” said AAUP Associate Secretary Hans-Joerg Tiede in a letter sent last week to White.

Last year the chancellor issued two executive orders to overhaul classes. The most sweeping of the two compels the campuses to do away with remedial classes taken by thousands of new students each year. The chancellor’s office said it disagrees with the association and plans to have the changes in place this fall.

That’s when new students deemed to need remedial classes will have the new classes to choose from. The national association and CSU faculty said that’s not enough time for professors at each campus to come up with a replacement.

“Essentially [students] are being guinea pigs in an experiment that we are forced to execute and it’s not clear to me what’s being proposed is any better than what we had,” said Cal State Northridge math professor Michael Neubauer.

He said the new classes are covering some of the same material covered by the remedial classes but that material hasn’t earned students college credits in the past. That’s a disservice to the students, he said.

“The advisors on campus have not been briefed on all of this and advising starts in April for freshmen so we’re in a tough spot here,” Neubauer said.

The opposition to White’s overhauls is the strongest pushback CSU administration has received against any of a series of proposals to improve retention of students and shorten the time students spend earning their degrees.

Many Cal State Northridge faculty have pledged not to help carry out the changes, in part because of the tight deadline and also because professors said they were not consulted enough. Chancellor White’s office said it consulted faculty.

Not all campuses are fighting the changes.

“We are on track and I must give the entire credit to the faculty. They have been really working hard in the past few years,” said Veena Prabhu, a business professor at CSU Los Angeles who is also the chair of the Academic Senate.