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Bilingual program might switch departments, causes faculty concerns

Bilingual program might switch departments, causes faculty concerns - The Mesquite Online News - Texas A&M University-San Antonio

The Texas A&M University-San Antonio campus entrance at the intersection of University Way and Jaguar Parkway on Feb. 16, 2022. Photo by Amber Esparza

As the bilingual education program considers switching departments, a chair and the program coordinator say they just want to do what’s best for students.

As of now, there is no set date for the possible change. 

Currently, two bilingual faculty members requested to move to the Department of Curriculum and Instruction, said interim department Chair Robin Robinson Kapavik. Three bilingual faculty members requested to stay in the department of educator and leadership preparation. All five faculty members collaborated to create a new bilingual degree plan, according to Kapavik.

Meanwhile, the Faculty Senate has expressed concerns about the change.

Though it may seem students are at the core of this decision, there is more faculty concern than anything else, said James Finley, who chairs an ad hoc committee formed in fall 2021 by the Faculty Senate to investigate the change of the bilingual program.

“There is evidence of infringement upon the principles and practice of shared governance and academic freedom,” the senate’s ad hoc committee said in its report.

The committee is composed of three Faculty Senate senators, Daniel Delgado, from the Department of Social Sciences; Leonard Love, Faculty Senate vice president; and Finley.

Right now, the degrees and faculty members are housed in two separate departments. The bilingual education program offers two “bilingual generalist” specializations as part of a Bachelor of Science in Interdisciplinary Studies — grades EC-6 and grades 4-8. The degrees are part of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction. 

However, bilingual education faculty work under Educator and Leadership Preparation.

By making this switch, both faculty and programs would fall under the same department.

“Whatever the final decision is, I support the decision faculty makes,” Kapavik said. “I just want folks to feel good about what they’re doing here to support our students. Our student success, no matter what certification they get, is always at the forefront of everything we do.”

Esther Garza, associate professor of bilingual education, said the pandemic delayed decisions about the departmental switch, with discussions still ongoing.

“All we can share is that everything that we are engaging with is always to center what’s best for our students,” Garza said.

She said the administration has been supportive.

“I just think as a program we continue evolving, and our main priority is our students and their success,” Garza said.

A follow-up story will report on the committee’s findings on what they categorized as a “hasty” change within the bilingual education program.

About the Authors

Raquel Salazar-Garza
Raquel Salazar-Garza is a communications major at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. She works as a digital marketing expert in addition to being a full-time student. In her spare time, she enjoys going to local spots with her dog Reagan. After she graduates, Raquel hopes to pursue a career in social media or public relations.
Victoria Simmons
Staff Writer
Victoria Simmons is a communication junior at Texas A&M University-San Antonio. She transferred from Northwest Vista College to A&M-San Antonio in fall of 2021. She works as a cashier at her local H-E-B plus. In her spare time she enjoys listening to music while taking long walks. Upon graduating, she hopes to pursue a career in the arts as a creative director or photojournalist.

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