SB904 effectively removes Florida’s university and college faculty from their role in determining which courses qualify for credit toward a degree from a Florida university or college.
The vote was postponed until Wednesday (4/24). This gives those concerned just enough time to call senators’ offices and make a difference in what senators are hearing from constituents on this bill. If we all do our work, we can stop SB 904.
What you can do
Call your senator*
Before 5pm on Tuesday 4/23 make a phone to call your senator and leave a short, polite message (one or two sentences) to register your opinion. (We recommend you use your personal phone to place this call.
Example Script: My name is …, and I live in the senator’s district. Please ask the senator to vote NO on SB 904.
Senator Rob Bradley: (850) 487-5007 (Alachua, Clay, Bradford Counties)
Find the phone number for other senators at: http://www.flsenate.gov/Senators/Find
* Call, do not email — emails may not be tabulated in time to change a senator’s position.
See “Taking on Accreditors and Faculty” on Inside Higher Ed”, April 11, 2013, for an article that brought national attention to how radical this bill is. Read more about a similar proposal in California here.
A list of problems with SB904 follows:
- SB 904 takes away decision-making for the curriculum from universities and colleges and gives it to an official in Tallahassee (the SUS Chancellor for the universities and the Commissioner of Education for the colleges).
- Universities and colleges risk losing SACS’s accreditation with this change, and students will not have the value of their degrees recognized as a credential for employment or graduate studies.
- The 2013 Florida Legislature is already faced with rescinding the 2012 law, which reduces general education hours from 36 to 30, in order to protect accreditation from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. If SB 904 is passed, the 2014 Legislature will again be faced with rescinding a law in order to protect SAC’s accreditation.
- SB 904 invites commercial vendors (private companies) to design and offer to students on-line courses. The tests could be computer-graded, and universities and colleges would be required to accept this work for credit toward a degree.
- The courses offered by for-profit vendors are not equivalent to the high-quality on-line courses Florida offers to students now. Florida is a model for the country in developing successful on-line courses.
- Extensive research at UF, UCF, and USF, among others, shows that these courses can only be equivalent to classroom-based courses if students have one hour per week of face-to-face contact with an instructor. The instructor interacts with students, answers all questions for everyone in the course to hear, asks more questions, and offers encouragement to pursue topics.
- Students need to have their work personally evaluated by an instructor, receive feedback, and make suggestions — not be evaluated on the basis of computer-graded tests.
- Students cannot get recommendations from a computer for employment or for graduate work. The future prospects of students are undermined when commercial vendors rely on computer-grading to evaluate. Florida universities and colleges do not reduce on-line course work to this bare minimum.