July 23, 2024

LETTER TO THE EDITOR Save the square pegs


“Get through that round hole.” The boss says. “We can’t, we are square pegs.” The welding instructors reply. “Get through the round hole. We will not allow square pegs here anymore.” Says the boss. “Sorry, but our students are square pegs too. We just can’t do it.” Reply the instructors. Boss: “Nobody is leaving until you t through that round hole.” Instruc- tors: “We refuse to commit annihilation upon your command.” That is not the actual conversation, but it sure seems like it.

A few months ago USU announced “We are revolutionizing the education model for career and technical education”, which is a great sound-bite but potentially full of mischief. Revolution can be good and revolution can be bad. As faculty, one of our responsibilities is to make sure it turns out “good” for our students. In fact USU policy, like most other university policy, gives faculty the responsibility and authority over the curriculum and instructional methods. Consequently, the above simulated conversation is less about rejecting the boss’s commands and more about our duty to our students.

As the details of this revolution come forward, we were informed that our students will not be allowed to take general education courses. In other words, they cannot take ENGL 1010 or MATH 1050 or any of the other readily transferrable courses that form the expected core of the college experience. This is a big problem for many welding students because they plan for a 4-year degree and take classes toward an AAS in welding and an AS degree simultaneously. It is also a problem for the welding faculty because we believe in the power of education and would not purposely restrict our students from broadening their knowledge or associating with students and faculty from other disciplines.

The reciprocal to restricting CTE students from taking gen-ed courses is that Arts & Sciences students would not be allowed to take CTE courses, according to administration’s plan. This forced academic segregation is harmful to students and has potentially larger social implications.

Welding students can bene t from a broader experience such as taking history or geography or political science AND Arts & Science students can bene t from taking a welding course, if they so choose. It just seems obvious.

Although faculty should have authority in this situation, and the welding faculty have clearly expressed that we intend to keep our traditional curriculum and teaching methods, the university president can overrule the policy. The last we heard from Eastern administrators on the subject is “the changes will be made without further discussion.” Thus, USU administration apparently intends to force this change and they have been using Utah Senate Bill 232 as an excuse to do so. Senate Bill 232 does NOT say that every CTE program must t a prescribed model, what it actually says is that USU will “provide for open-en- try, open-exit competency-based career and technical education programs”. Several CTE programs voluntarily do so because it makes sense for their program; which also makes USU compliant with the legislation. The same legislation requires transferability to other state institutions, which is severely weakened by administration’s plan.

What can you do? Please “Save the Square Pegs”. Let USU administration know that square pegs belong here too and they should not sacrifice a world-class program just because it does not t their round hole. Lon Youngberg PCTE Professor Welding Program