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My Letter to La Voz in Support of Math Dept.

NOTE: The following article was written by De Anza faculty member John Perry of the Department of Computer Information Systems.


Why De Anza Math Marchers Are "Wack"

I have been an instructor in the Computer Information Systems Department at De Anza for 15 years. The first five years, from 1989-1994 were the "salad days" -- six or seven real wizards per class, excellent attendance, diligence even among mediocre students, and few behavioral problems.

Then something happened. I do not know what it was, or is, but it is so palpable that Faculty are talking about it in hushed tones behind closed doors because it is so "politically incorrect". That "something" is that student performance AND behavioral standards are in stark decline.

Frankly, I blame part of this problem on student reviews of Fac? ulty as a point of leverage for or against Faculty. Many students are not even aware of the benefits of a highly rigorous and demanding instructor until they reach advanced courses or even the job market. Personally, I cannot tell you how many students have come back to me months or years after a course I have taught to thank me for being such a "hard ass".

Just as children don't get to "rate" their parents and submit it to the State of California for the obvious reason that parents have lived longer, experienced more, and use this wisdom of acquired expe? rience to guide their children -- even if it means they don't get to be the "hip" mom or dad in the neighborhood. The wisdom of student ratings of Faculty rests on a shaky ground and becomes a mere popular? ity contest.

There is no denying that, just as there are good and bad parents, there are good and bad teachers. However, a college teacher is not there to correct slackers or carry out other pseudo-parental roles. They are there to teach. I can well imagine that Math instructors themselves are finding the skill levels of students alarmingly poor -- and possibly their behavioral standards as well.

If students feel cheated, let them do the research to look at average grades from the 1970s and 1980s and see if they sing the same tune. As it is, I am in TOTAL solidarity with the Math Department and their resolute stand on minimal levels of student competency. The students who find the Math Department 'wack' ought to look at the true source of the problem by holding up a mirror.

I implore Ann Leskinen to uphold her Department's standards and not give an inch on this matter. Another regrettable aspect of all of this is that I can also well imagine that student allegations of "lack of care" amongst Math Faculty means that Faculty members aren't giving poor students tons of individual time in classes of size 40 or 50. If these same students came from a FAMILY of 40 or 50, they would under? stand without an explanation. Why not now?

De Anza Faculty would do well to stop the erosion of academic standards by standing fast with their Math Department colleagues. A lot is at stake.

John Perry
Department of Computer Information Systems

Posted by jocalo@a... on 2/25/04; 3:59:15 PM Discuss (1 response)
 Updated Wednesday, February 25, 2004 at 3:59:15 PM by Dan Mitchell -
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