Our fight against Pathways continues. The closer we get to the implementation of Pathways, the greater has become the opposition to this meretricious overhaul of the largest urban university in the nation. Under the guise of concern for our students, the Board will foist on the University a hodgepodge of courses and requirements that have no resemblance to a coherent, truly transferable degree program. Pathways will produce liberal arts degrees without study of history, without a second language, without laboratory experience. I ask those who [voice] support [for] Pathways, or who do not yet oppose it: “Would you send your children to a college whose academic program resembled Pathways?”
Pathways is especially dangerous to community colleges. It ignores the mission of community colleges to provide access and support to students not yet ready for the senior colleges. While providing a “pathway” to early transfer out of the community colleges for the better-prepared students, Pathways has stripped away additional class hours for students requiring developmental work. Pathways will cause the community colleges to empty out, not with graduates, but with transferees and dropouts. The full transfer function of the community colleges is being replaced by the promotion of training for narrowly defined occupations whose prospects are, at best, speculative.
The Wrong Path
Pathways (like the lamentable CUNYfirst) is a business model, not an academic model. Where in Pathways is there any sense of education for citizenship? For equal standing of all? For the sharing of a common core not only of skills, but of knowledge? There are some truly objectionable assumptions embedded in Pathways – for example, that our students are disinterested or undeserving of educational options.
CUNY students deserve a transferable degree. They also need a degree that articulates widely and provides access to masters and doctoral programs. Yet last year when members of the Council of Faculty Governance Leaders told Chancellor Matthew Goldstein that Pathways science courses would not be transferable to many colleges outside of CUNY, his response was that the inability of these courses to transfer was perhaps not such a bad thing, since it would discourage these students from leaving CUNY.
Pathways will create an academic ghetto separating CUNY from SUNY and private-colleges. While taking to heart our responsibility to ensure our students the smoothest path to graduation, we must defend their right to a quality education that will have full standing at other colleges.
“Transfer” has always been a pretext for a master plan to curtail faculty authority over curriculum and effectively end faculty governance. Hostos Community College recently labored through a two-year accreditation-renewal process, based on many, many hours of inquiry and discussion from faculty, professional staff and administration. The recommendations/outcomes of this onerous-yet-fruitful process bear no resemblance whatsoever to the contorted profile of Pathways. So a vast amount of honest work in the accreditation process leading to a more effective community college is being replaced by an educational Walmart.
Stand for Change
We are all college graduates. We have a union contract, many of us have tenure; most critical of all, we have our professional integrity and consciences. I have faith (a faith based on experience and reason) that the contradictions of Pathways will become ever more apparent as Pathways becomes manifest, and that the clearly stated opposition of faculty will ultimately force a change. In the interim, a botched process is replacing the enthusiasm of innovation; enhanced collegiality forged by collaboration is being replaced with damaged relationships and compromised governance. It is our obligation to speak the truth and, by joining with others, to oppose, modify and ultimately reverse Pathways.