Teachers are the lifeblood of Lane. What they do impacts student success more than anything else. Without them, we might as well all pack up and go home.
According to at least 32 teachers, their jobs have been made difficult because class sizes have increased, and they are upset. To overburden teachers is to weaken the college’s most important asset. It’s not the right way to treat them, and it sure doesn’t do anything for student success. Students who need personal attention should have ample access to teachers, and when teachers are overloaded, their time is limited.
At the close of the Board of Education meeting on Nov. 4, board chairman Pat Albright spoke about his own experience as a teacher, acknowledging that for teaching to be effective, class sizes need to be appropriate.
“Balancing issues is preventing us from doing what we know is right,” Albright said.
Those issues must be addressed of course. However, Albright’s candor indicates that if class sizes have indeed increased, the college has chosen to manage those issues at the expense of effective teaching.
In edition seven of The Torch we published a letter presented to the board signed by the 32 teachers in question. In it they write, “Under these conditions instructors cannot teach to the level of excellence we strive for and we cannot fulfill the state mandated course outcomes . . .” These teachers represent just one department.
The Torch invited the college administration to respond to the letter. A response has not been received to date.
Registration for winter term is currently under way, and so The Torch considers this matter pressing. Solid data is needed. We need to know how many classes are affected and by how much. If the class sizes are too great, Lane cannot, in all good conscience, proceed in doing what it knows to be wrong.
As college president Mary Spilde offered during the discussion, analysis of the matter was not yet complete at the time of the board meeting. Spilde added that the college can’t unilaterally change a bargaining agreement.
The immediate task at hand, therefore, is to get the facts out in the open. If the facts indicate that classes are too large, then the college needs to plow into that bureaucratic reality and undo the bargaining agreement that allows for increased class sizes as soon as possible.