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Faculty and staff at the City University of New York have launched a national petition calling for high-quality education at the university and a moratorium on implementing a new, watered-down general education curriculum called Pathways.

Thousands of CUNY educators have spoken out in opposition to the new curriculum, which was enacted by the CUNY Board of Trustees and is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2013. The Professional Staff Congress, the AFT union representing 22,000 faculty and staff at CUNY, has protested in particular the manner in which the curriculum is being implemented. Yet, instead of addressing faculty concerns about Pathways, the administration is barreling ahead, says the PSC, threatening departments that do not comply with reprisals, and doing CUNY students a great disservice. The petition is sponsored by both the PSC and the CUNY University Faculty Senate. It condemns the attempt to impose an "austerity" curriculum, and calls for an end to the threats and intimidation of faculty and a stop to implementing Pathways until "an atmosphere free of coercion is established and academically sound alternatives can be considered."

In a letter seeking broad condemnation of CUNY's actions, PSC president Barbara Bowen (an AFT vice president) and UFS chair Terrence Martell put the events in national context: "This is a watershed moment for higher education," they write. "The 'reform' agenda that brought relentless testing and widespread privatization to K-12 schools has surfaced in higher education. Forty years of public policy focused on access to college is being replaced by a single-minded demand for increased graduation rates—whatever the cost in academic quality."

Sign the petition and share it with a wider audience. [Barbara McKenna]

January 25, 2013