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Proposed District General Education Changes

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Photo credit: Lisa Burke

Palomar College is revamping the associate degree General Education (GE) requirements in order to streamline and align requirements for transfer to four-year universities. The changes will take effect fall 2025.

If certain classes will not be required for an associate degree, then those classes’ departments may contract or be discontinued.

Three meetings were held over two days to explain and obtain feedback on the newly suggested changes to the requirements needed to obtain an associate degree at Palomar College. The GE subcommittee members, English as a second language (ESL) professor Vickie Mellos, and media studies professor and faculty president Wendy Nelson, presented the details of the changes. These changes will make the local or district more closely aligned with the state requirements.

Members of the faculty whose departments are affected by the changes, students, and other interested parties were invited to give feedback in the open to the public forum.

These new state GE requirements may become the district requirements. The significant changes would be to eliminate the Health and Fitness, and American History and Institutions/California Government requirements.

Some of the state changes will be replacing the current California GE requirement’s Area A through E, with Area 1 through 6. It is mostly a name change since there was significant overlap in the current and future requirements. Among the differences was the elimination of Area E: Lifelong Learning and Self-Development, and adding language to Area 3, formerly Area C.

The main issue the changes are meant to solve is students taking more than 60 units to graduate. “There might be some students who… don’t mind accumulating units and taking longer to graduate. However, there are others who want or need to finish as soon as possible… so we want to help those students graduate in a timely manner and achieve their goals.”, Mellos said via email.

The demographics of community colleges are different from four-year universities. Tina Barlolong, Palomar’s Career Center co-director and veteran’s counselor, described how the students she serves have needs and goals that differ from other students. They may have already fulfilled a health requirement with their physical training obtained in the military.

Head coach of Palomar’s baseball team, Ben Adams, was representing health and kinesiology at the meeting and highlighted that other community colleges have made the proposed changes, but their students’ graduation rates did not change. He expressed dissatisfaction to the proposed changes and said they were presented as a foregone conclusion.

Marina Parenti, adjunct history professor, noted that eliminating her department’s requirement will affect the ability to obtain tenure and employment.

Parenti said the most pressing concern in eliminating the history requirement was, “…oversimplifying complex historical narratives and neglecting nuanced perspectives that are essential for a comprehensive understanding of the past and social justice history.”

This streamlining will “undermine” the ability of “…interpreting motives, context and consequence of human actions… by reducing history to a mere checklist of facts, devoid of depth and richness that make it meaningful,” Parenti said.

Palomar history professor Catherine Christensen Gwin likened the streamlining process to a “consumerist model.” Relevant to the lack of historical knowledge she recounts asking her class who won the Civil War. “And I have stared at a sea of blank faces. And so, the thought of sending those students into the world… is really concerning,” Gwin said.

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Proposed District General Education Changes