An open letter to the Board of Education from Lane writing instructors

An open letter to the Board of Education from Lane writing instructors

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As you certainly know, as of this fall the maximum capacity for writing classes at Lane has been increased by four students, with no consideration given to the effect of this change on student success. We are writing to urge you in the strongest terms to return the maximum size of our classes to their previous levels.

This overload policy is even worse for students than it is for instructors. The increase in the student-teacher ratio damages the reputation and standing of the college locally and nationally, and could even become an issue in accreditation. It has already damaged our ability to respond to students’ individual situations as they try to get into a class they need. These overloaded classes make it impossible for us to adequately address many Lane students’ lack of academic experience and preparation. Student success, retention, and completion will all suffer as a result.

Under these conditions instructors cannot teach to the level of excellence we strive for, and we cannot fulfill the state-mandated course outcomes, which require process writing and have stringent requirements as to the length and number of essays our students must write.

In writing courses we know that increasing the number of students means less time for reading and commenting on essays, less time for conferences with students, and less time to address individual student needs. Although the effects may vary across departments, it is clear that all students are harmed by a policy focused on attrition and budgets at the cost of providing an effective learning environment. In harsh contrast to Lane’s ill-conceived increase in writing course caps, the University of Oregon has chosen to reduce class size in composition this year. This disparity has the potential to threaten our articulation agreements with UO.

Like most other instructors on campus, we love what we do, which is why we have always worked diligently, but this overload flies in the face of overwhelming evidence that class size has a significant impact on effective teaching and successful learning.

The English faculty whose names you see below believe that the only appropriate course of action will be to roll back our class maximums to pre-overload levels. When the course assignments for winter quarter roll out, we hope to find that you have supported our request. Doing so will protect the integrity of LCC instructor work and the well-being of students. We hope that you will do the same for our colleagues in other departments who have likewise absorbed damaging increases in maximum class capacity.

We want to give you this very clear message that the numbers need to be rolled back to avert further harm and to allow time for thoughtful deliberation to resolve this issue. Student success is what we all desire, and there is no doubt that class size is a key factor in achieving it. Let us all work together to refocus on this goal in a prompt and united way.


English Faculty, Lane Community College

Aryn Bartley, Amy Beasley, David Bockoven, Merry Caston, Jose Chaves, Joshua Daniels, Will Fleming, Kate Ghiselin, Jeffery Harrison, Sandy Brown Jensen, Polina Kroik, Sarah Lushia, Michael McDonald, Anne McGrail, Siskanna Naynaha, Cecelia Rosenow, Timothy Shaner, Russell Shitabata, Michael Skupsky, Barbara Sullivan, Kate Sullivan, Gail Stevenson, Gina Szabady, Eileen Thompson, Eliot Treichel, Lynn Tullis, Lynn Untz, Drew Viles, Jennifer VonAmmon, Carol Watt, Susan Williams, Ken Zimmerman

 

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