(Update) Senator: Professors need to stop being so picky

Tellin' it to the profs

Check out how one state senator has sounded off on professors:

In offering a Senate companion bill to the House’s HF717 mandating the 100 percent transfer of credits among MnSCU schools, Sen. Michael Jungbauer (R-East Bethel) told the Senate higher education committee yesterday that professors are just standing in the way.

The problem? He suggested they think classes from other institutions just don’t measure up to theirs:

I have to hear from teachers, ‘You don’t understand. My class is much different from the others.’  I’m tired of hearing it. Hey, calculus is calculus. They say, ‘My syllabus is intellectual property.’ Well, not if you’re teaching from someone else’s book.”

Jungbauer laid out his beefs with the state system in which, 15 or so years after its founding, students still have problems getting their credits transferred from one MnSCU school to another. (The latest figure I’ve heard is somewhere in the low-90 percent range.)

He said it’s easier to have MnSCU credits accepted at universities in surrounding states — especially in Wisconsin — than it is in Minnesota.

“I find it very troubling that we don’t have an interlocking system. I think it’s pretty common-sensical. If (students) didn’t get a good grade or show mastery, I have no problem with (credits not transferring). But it costs students lot of money just because some professor says his class is different. It’s not right.”

He said his concern was over the mostly introductory general education classes that most students take their first two years of college. He acknowledged that upper-level classes and some tech courses, however, might be difficult to transfer because of their specialized nature — especially when a professor has written the book being used in the class.

Sen. Sandy Pappas (DFL-St. Paul) suggested changing the language in the bill so that it targets only general ed classes.

After some questions by senators, Jungbauer said he had overlooked one element — the calculation of transfer credits when one course isn’t as long as another, doesn’t meet as frequently or is not as intensive as another.

He said he could agree to allow exceptions in the bill, but didn’t think professors should have full reign:

I don’t think teachers should be allowed (to make so many exceptions). They’re very protective, and that’s what’s part of the problem. (Senate committee) members can discuss the hows and wheres of exceptions.

He agreed with Sen. John Pederson (R-St. Cloud) that transfer problems contributed to the need for some students to take six years to get their degrees.

Note: In addition to the issues brought up in the House discussion of this matter, critics of Jungbauer’s bill said MnSCU has already made a lot of progress in transfers. Inter Faculty Organization President Don Larsson later called the bill “unnecessary,” and said he feared that if it became law it would derail the progress the system has made.