February 2013 Issue
January 31, 2013

PSC protests curriculum changes

Author: Darryl McGrath
Source: NYSUT United

NYSUT members at the City University of New York have launched a national petition drive in their continued protest against "Pathways," CUNY's planned revisions to its general education curriculum.

The Professional Staff Congress, which represents more than 25,000 faculty and staff and is led by President Barbara Bowen, has worked tirelessly for months to heighten awareness about problems with Pathways.

"Pathways will deliver a minimal curriculum for CUNY's working class students," Bowen said. "This is an attempt to move students through the system more quickly even as budgets are cut — by reducing academic requirements."

Pathways will eliminate university-wide science lab requirements, limit foreign language requirements and reduce faculty time with students in English composition classes, all measures the PSC says the administration is using to soft-peddle the real purpose behind Pathways: It would be a cheaper way for CUNY to operate than the current general education curriculum. Pathways is scheduled to begin next fall.

CUNY administration has presented the program as a way to ease transfer within the university system and as a faster track to graduation. The PSC, however, says the new general education standards will dilute and devalue a CUNY degree and will, in fact, make it more difficult for CUNY students to transfer to other colleges outside the CUNY system.

Calling the program an "austerity education for an austerity economy," Bowen says the PSC is determined to stop the administration's threats and intimidation against faculty who oppose the plan.

"Forty years of public policy focused on access to college is being replaced by a single-minded demand for increased graduation rates, whatever the cost in academic quality," Bowen said.