COMMON SENSE ON CAMPUS
New York Post (May 28, 2000)
City University trustees last week approved a four-year master plan loaded with reforms intended to restore the institution's eroded reputation - the most controversial of which calls for a university-wide core curriculum.
Most of CUNY's colleges already have core courses, but there's no consistency from school to school. The trustees suggest that students at every CUNY two- and four-year institution should graduate with "a set of competencies appropriate to a quality institution."
The core courses are yet to be determined, but hackles are being raised by the trustees' insistence that an American-history course be required for those who have not studied the subject already.
Professor Joanne Reitano, chair of the Community College Caucus, charged that an American-history requirement "hallows ethnocentrism just as everyone else is embracing internationalism and preparing students to become citizens of the world."
Leaving aside the matter of how such a course would be taught once it was required, there is nothing wrong with making it a requirement.
Surely the students Ms. Reitano presumes to speak for can find time in their busy lives for a survey of the history of the nation in which they live.
Recent history, of course, instructs the uninititated to beware of people who belong to "caucuses" of any sort. Usually they speak nonsense - and, in that respect, Ms. Reitano doesn't disappoint.
No doubt as this debate proceeds, a lot of folks will be heard from who have nothing but contempt for the history and literature of the Western world.
We have every confidence that the folks running CUNY today - board chairman Herman Badillo and Chancellor Matt Goldstein, among others - will give the naysayers what they deserve: The bum's rush. Politely, though.
Notwithstanding the storm clouds building on the academic left, the future of CUNY looks brighter than it has for some time.