District board rules amendment would add to general education unit requirements

The vote for whether or not to approve the addition of three general education units to the requirement for an associate degree was tabled by the Los Angeles Community College District.

The LACCD Board of Trustees was scheduled to vote on the matter during a meeting at L.A. Mission College on Wednesday, May 13.

“The foundation of an associate degree is general education,” said Elizabeth Atondo, articulation officer at Pierce College.

Most of the community colleges represented at the meeting were in favor of the amendment. The LACCD is on the lower end when it comes to its 18 required general education units for an associate degree.

“We looked at Pasadena, College of the Canyons and Moorpark, and everyone is more than 21 [units],” Atondo said. “So 21 is minimal. It’s a third of an associate degree. It’s so reasonable and students should want it.”

This change would only affect new students, and continuing students would only be required to take 18 general education units. The district is trying to keep up with this movement as well as meet the needs of the colleges in the best way for them.

This issue brought many staff and faculty members from L.A. Trade Tech College to speak on behalf of the school and its students.

L.A. Trade Tech College is unique because 70 percent of the college’s students are enrolled in career technical education (CTE) programs and the other 30 percent are pursuing academic degrees.

Pierce College is made up of around 60 percent of students pursuing an academic degree and 40 percent moving toward a CTE certificate, according to Kathleen Burke, Pierce’s president.

Faculty members of Trade Tech iterated that this increase in general education units may be right for some colleges, but not for theirs.

“We are not asking that anybody eliminate what they are asking to do,” said Carole Anderson a representative with the American Federation of Teachers union. “If they think this is the right thing for them to do for their students, then God bless them. But we know what’s right for our students.”

Larry Pogoler, a professor at Trade Tech, said that the increase in units will cause more harm than good for his students.

“There are actually units being pushed out of our major coursework,” Pogoler said. “At Trade Tech, we believe that this has created an exceptional and compelling circumstance.”

Section 6201.14 of the Board Rule subsection B on general education requirement states, “Developing and implementing a specific philosophy of General Education is a responsibility of each college, since each must be sensitive to the unique educational needs and learning environment of its students.”

Trade Tech seeks to keep its campus’ general education unit requirement at 18 because they say it is unnecessary for most of the students in a CTE program and it is just another obstacle for students who are in an academic degree program.

District Academic President Don Gauthier favors the unit increase and believes that the board must rely on the faculty experts when making a decision.

“They have a choice. They can decide that this is going to have a big impact and they can say no. They can also decide to agree with us and there is no issue,” Gauthier said.

The board of trustees will review the newly acquired information and testimonies before putting it to vote.

Additional reporting by Katerina Chryssafis.