The future path of CUNY students: No mas foreign languages per favore

YAISY MENDOZA Special to the AmNews | 12/20/2012, 1:51 p.m.
The battle over Pathways, a controversial initiative allowing students to transfer a Common Core--or general-education--credit...
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The battle over Pathways, a controversial initiative allowing students to transfer a Common Core--or general-education--credit among CUNY colleges keeps getting hotter.

The Common Core consists of 30 credits that all CUNY undergraduate schools will share. Additionally, all associate-degree students who transfer to baccalaureate degree programs will be required to complete 12 College-Option general-education credits.

The Board of Trustees of the City University of New York accepted the resolution to create this transfer system in June 2011, and the initiative will be implemented in fall 2013. In late October of this year, the York College Senate also voted to approve CUNY Pathways. In the case of York College, 12 credits (Required Core) will cover English, math and sciences, and 18 credits (Flexible Core) will combine courses in five areas, such as world cultural and global issues, U.S. experience and diversity, creative expression, individual and society, and scientific world.

Astoria Dones, a sophomore nursing student at York, said if she wanted to go to 10 different CUNY Schools, each one of them should take all her credits. "No matter what they [credits] came from, as long they came from any CUNY School," Dones said. "CUNY only cares about money."

While the administration argues that having a Common Core among CUNY campuses will help transferring students to complete their degree without delays, several CUNY professors disagree with Pathways' implementation, saying that it will diminish the quality of CUNY education, including foreign-language learning.

That is because foreign languages are not included in the Common Core. In a letter explaining the initiative, the chair of the Pathways Task Force, Michelle Anderson, wrote that the Steering Committee declined to require foreign languages study because all CUNY campuses don't uniformly require them in their general education curricula, and including foreign languages in the required core would decrease

flexibility for the campuses. However, she also wrote that the committee won't prevent a college from requiring up to two courses in foreign languages as part of a student's first 30 credits of general education, which is currently a common requirement.

"Foreign languages are currently not a requirement in the CUNY Pathways curriculum but are offered as one of the options at the Flexible Core level for World Cultures and Global Issues," said Fabiola Salek, chair of the foreign languages department at York and the vice president of the CUNY Council on World Language Study.

Fabiola added that the requirement currently is from zero to eight credits, but under Pathways, York non-transfer students will be required to take zero to six credits in foreign languages as a part of the college option. On the other hand, students still can place out and thus be exempt from taking a foreign language.

"The majority of the senior colleges recognize the value of foreign languages," Salek said. "York is one of those colleges."

Nacilia McCarthy, a Jamaican international transfer student majoring in communication technology at CUNY, agreed that Pathways is a great idea.

"People from foreign countries learn English, and even if they don't know how to speak well, they can read it, they can write it," McCarthy said. "We need to have a second language, but it should definitively [at the Flexible Core]."