Monday, February 13, 2012


OPEN LETTER TO DR. LILY TERCERO

Dr. Lily Tercero
President Texas Southmost College,

UPDATE:  President Obama just stated his administration will provide funding to community colleges needing to retool to meet current job demands in terms of training.  Can our Trustees see the opportunity to seek federal funding for a robotics training program?
HOW TO BUILD INSTRUCTION AT A  COMMUNITY COLLEGE

A community college is not a university. A community college has a mandate to prepare students for the university, provide job training, and continuing education. Its instructors should rise or fall on their ability to teach, and not on research, or publish or perish.

A community college classroom is smaller in size than a university classroom. A community college instructor teaches more than their subject matter. They also teach how to learn and test in a university environment. A community college instructor must assume the students do not know how to take notes, write essay exams, engage in critical thinking, or prepare for exams. A good instructor incorporates each of these things into their instruction. I did it as a government instructor without compromising the quality of instruction, so I know it can be done.

NEW INSTRUCTORS

The job market at this time has thousands of PhDs unemployed looking for work.  There is no reason for TSC to hire any of the instructors from UTB.  These instructors had no problem throwing the students under the bus to satisfy Juliet Garcia's agenda.  These instructors have already proven they cannot teach community college students.  If TSC hires these instructors all it will do in guarantee the students will continue to fail.

There must be a commitment to building a new mentality towards instruction.  TSC must insure all Department Chairs can bring to the table this new mentality.  During the interview process the new Department Chairs must be able to prove an understanding between teaching at a community college and university.  The prospective Department Chairs must prove that they are committed to only hiring instructors who understand the difference between a community college and university.  They must understand they will be judged on their ability to teach and nothing else.  They must understand they will be judged on their ability to teach our students while considering the limitations created by a failed local school district.  If TSC just hires the same people who already failed our students, then TSC will be known as Juliet Garcia 2.0 Failure.

MEDICAL TRAINING PROGRAM

The current program as configured under Juliet Garcia has as its sole purpose to bilk students out of their financial aid while producing virtually no results for the students.  Yes, a handful of students move forward, but the vast majority drop out upon learning there was never really a place at the table for them.  Many are saddled with student loans they cannot pay.

FINDING A SOLUTION

TSC should be able to predict the needs of the community in terms of hiring in the medical fields.  Based on this number TSC should be able to device a number which tells  them how many students can be admitted to the program without admitting everyone for no other reason than being able to raise money.  This number will include a presumption of a percentage of dropouts, but nothing like we currently have.  It is unethical and cruel to tell students they are going to get job training when you know full well that only a small number of the students entering the program after the prerequisites will ever be allowed to move forward.

Medical Terminology is a joke course and must be replaced.  It is a disgrace that the students who pass are buying the exams from students who already took the course, and then study the answers.  The students who cannot buy the exams are failing.  The current configuration of the course promotes cheating.  This in unacceptable.

A valid teaching technique which is actually used by the Bar Review instructors is to use old tests to teach the prospective lawyers the material on the Bar Exam.  There is nothing wrong with providing students a study sheet with 150 multiple choice study questions wherein they have to use their books and lectures to learn the material.  The test  then uses 100 of the questions.  They still have to study the 150 questions and answers.  This method would actually teach the material to the students, while putting everyone on an equal playing field.

COMPUTER TRAINING

How is it possible that high school students who took the same course in high school and passed with an A are getting an F at UTB?  Part of the problem involves having university professors teaching freshman courses.  Most could not care one way or the other about freshman courses.  In fact in some cases it is considered punishment to have to teach freshman.

The book being used by UTB basically teaches nothing.  In fact the instructors teach nothing.  They have chosen a book which appears translated from maybe Chinese.  At times it makes no sense.  I have taken test questions from the package to Microsoft technicians and they have told me that many of the questions have no correct answer, or in some cases the question claims the Microsoft program can do things it cannot do.

The computer science instructors should be  testing through application and not through some multiple choice exam.  Just because someone can guess the correct answer in a multiple choice exam does not mean they understand how to use the program.  When I learned Fortran and Basic I learned through trial an error.  This is how you learn computer programming and use of preprogrammed programs.  UTB is not doing this. TSC must do it or risk the continuation of the policy of failure.

TSC must ban the use by instructors of prepared tests which come with textbooks.  First of all, in the social sciences, I absolutely oppose the use of multiple choice exams.  While in law school full time, (BTW, I did law school in 2 1/2 years, not 3) and working for a law firm part time, I taught 2 courses in American Government every semester.  I only gave essay exams.  While preparing for my own finals I would be grading upwards of 150 comprehensive essay final exams.  I do not want to hear it is too much work.  If the instructor thinks it is too much work, let them go work elsewhere.

Instructors must prepare their own exams which are geared to what they taught.  An exam must highlight the most important material taught in the classroom, and not what some far off tech put into prepared multiple choice tests provided with the textbook.

On the textbook issue, again, the new Department Chairs must commit to hiring instructors who will work as a  team to create a free on line textbook for their subject matter.  Other than laziness, there is no reason why this is not an option.

SOCIAL SCIENCES

Social sciences have many purposes.  In the greater sense in terms of preparing our students for the university and workforce, social sciences should be the place where our students are taught to write.

I will repeat the key to this:

 A community college instructor teaches more than their subject matter. They also teach how to learn and test in a university environment. A community college instructor must assume the students do not know how to take notes, write essay exams, engage in critical thinking, or prepare for exams. A good instructor incorporates each of these things into their instruction.

In the area of social sciences if the instructors are required to do as I suggest, then our students will be ready for the university.  As you know Dr. Tercero, no professor at the university is going to teach this.  Our students must be ready to take notes, write essays, engage in critical thinking, and prepare for exams.

In these two letters I have outlined  the basics in how to build a community college from the bottom up.  The TSC trustees have provided you an opportunity to create a model which could be seen as the model for all successful community colleges.

I such as the people of the TSC taxing authority wish you the best in your endeavors. 

Sincerely,

Bobby WC

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent Suggestions!

BobbyWC said...

I am posting this in two places so it gets read. Ramiro Garza's campaign has responded to a post about the role a congressman has in terms of a state medical school.

Here is his post.

"My role has been advocating for funds from the legislature to fund programs and initiatives tied to the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC). As executive director of the Edinburg EDC, I was the liaison (2000-2009) with the UT Health Science Center collaborating jointly with UTPA, UTB and Harlingen officials to promote new funding for the RAHC. As you recall, the RAHC was a concept created by the State Legislature as a first step to build a full fledge medical school with three major components - Medical Education (Harlingen), Medical Research (Edinburg) and Public Health (Brownsville). For my part, I directly assisted UTHSC to attain funds from the City of Edinburg Medical Advisory Fund of $1 million that contributed to the construction of the Biomedical Research Facility that is now housed in Edinburg on the campus of UTPA. Unfortunately, there has not been enough funds to fully fund all the pro grams to realize a full fledge medical school. I know it is not a federal issue but I believe that as a Congressman, one should collaborate with the State to advocate for this to become a reality as it will not only help us meet our growing demand for doctors, but it will serve as en economic engine for the region – creating jobs and economic opportunities.


Ramiro"

The BV will always post a professional response from any candidate concerned with a BV post or that of one of its readers.


Bobby WC

Anonymous said...

You failed to mention the problem of Dual Enrollment with the college. When high school teachers receive the proper training to execute a Dual Enrollment class at the level of the college the program is beneficial to the students both fiancial and academic. However, when the program is created to increase enrollment for the college and obtain additional funds for the college based on student enrollment, the program fails to meet the needs of the student. Which has been the case for the Dual Enrollment program for UTB-TSC with the school district.