DCCCD shaves its core curriculum for 2014

By Justin David Tate

The Dallas County Community College District is changing its core curriculum.

By fall 2014, the core will downsize from 47 to 42 credit hours, following a mandate from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board.

On Oct. 30, groups of faculty members and administrators from multiple disciplines met and presented their cases as to why their discipline should remain in the core.

While Mathematics, Science, Government and History will retain their current requirements in the core, Speech, English and Physical Education have become a major point of contention.

The current core that has been in place since 2009 includes a choice of either Speech 1311 or Speech 1315 for one of two Communication component areas. English 1301 and 1302 took the second component area for a total of nine credit hours in the Communication tier.

The new core will combine the Communication tiers, decreasing the total hours from nine to six.

One area, known as the Component Area Option, consists of six credit hours that are up for grabs for whichever discipline can make the best argument as to why their classes should remain in the core.

Communication is making the argument that either Speech or English 1302 should occupy three of those credits.

“Oral and written communication skills are an unavoidable by-product of life,” English professor Larissa Pierce-Washington said. “Without both, one cannot be in power.”

Pierce-Washington and fellow English professor Amber Pagel presented a case that suggested ways to retain the Speech and English components in their entirety.

In order to be considered for the Component Area Option, a class must meet a minimum of three of the Core Objectives.

Speech communication professor Mark Burks made the argument that Speech 1311 and 1315 more than fit the description.

Burks identified Speech as essential for instilling critical thinking skills as well as oral and written communication skills, three of the core objectives.

While Communication is in danger of losing a portion of its classes from the core, Physical Education could be eliminated in its entirety from the core.

In making his case for physical education, instructor Bob Flickner read the following testimonial from a student whose life was changed after relearning healthy eating and exercise habits.

“‘At the beginning of this course, I felt it was a little overkill. But now I feel this is the most important course that I’ve taken. I only get one life, one body and I need to take care of it.,” Flickner read.

Executive Dean of Academic Enrichment Liz Nichols made sure to let everyone know that no final decisions have been made about which classes will make it into the coveted Component Area Option slots.

History professor Matt Hinckley, who heads Eastfield’s core curriculum coordinating board, was part of the 2009 group that helped whittle the core’s 52 credit hours to 48.

He helped spearhead the process of getting instructors’ input and has been an advocate for making their voices heard in various listening exchanges before the core deadline of Feb. 1, 2013.

“[The coordinating board] fundamentally endorses the good work that is done by the core 2009 group,  but as far as what’s in, what’s out and where it fits, we have not decided,” Hinckley said. “We are waiting for the final draft of the discipline plan, with the final discipline plans to be submitted by Feb. 1. So these series of listening exchanges [should be] a rough draft editing session.”

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