"Where's the Beef?" Economics, the Main Course, Is Missing from the New Texas Core Curriculum

Article excerpt


In 1998, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) mandated that each general academic institution and community/technical college in Texas design and implement a core curriculum with the "Texas Common Course Numbering System," with no fewer than 42 lower division semester credit hours. Beginning in Fall 1998, THECB Rule 5,402 also provided that core curriculum would be transferable among institutions:

If a student successfully completes the 42 semester hour credit core, curriculum at an institution of higher education, that block of courses may be transferred to any other institution of higher education and must be substituted for the receiving institution's core curriculum. (THECB Rules, 1999, 5402(d), http)

Early in 1998, THECB Advisory Committee on Core Curriculum set out several guidelines for the development of a state core curriculum. Among them were:

1. To mandate no fewer than 42 semester credit hours.

2. To include intellectual skill development across the core curriculum.

Basic intellectual competencies would include:

Reading--ability to analyze and interpret a variety of printed material.

Writing--produce clear, correct, and coherent prose adapted to purpose, occasion and audience.

Speaking--communicate orally in clear, coherent, and persuasive language appropriate to purpose, occasion and audience.

Listening--be able to analyze and interpret various forms of spoken communication.

Critical thinking and problem sloving--ability to organize and analyze ideas and information--including written texts, visual representations, artifacts, and experimental and statistical materials--using logical methods. Applying both qualitative and quantitative skills analytically and creatively to appropriate subject matter in order to evaluate arguments and to construct alternative strategies. Problem solving is application of critical thinking to address an identified task.

Computer Literacy--ability to use computer-based technology in communication, solving problems, and acquiring information.

3. To provide perspectives on human experiences derived from specific courses. The core should contain courses that establish multiple perspectives on the individual and the world in which he or she lives and

   that stimulate a capacity to discuss and reflect upon individual,
   political and social aspects of life to understand ways in which to
   exercise responsible citizenship; recognize the importance of
   maintaining health and wellness; develop a capacity to use the
   knowledge of how technology and science affect their lives; develop
   personal values and the ability to make aesthetic judgements; use
   logical reasoning in problem solving; and integrate knowledge and
   understand the interrelationships of the discipline.

4. To modify teaching methods:

   Since the objective of disciplinary studies within a core
   curriculum is to foster perspectives as well as to inform and
   deliver content, the way subject is taught is an important as the
   subject matter itself. Disciplinary courses with a core curriculum
   should include outcomes focused on the intellectual core
   competencies as well as outcomes related to establishing
   perspectives--basic concepts in the discipline methods of analysis
   and interpretation specific to the discipline (Working Document,
   THECB Advisory Committee, 1998, 2-5, http).

Based on these guidelines the State Core Committee chose five component areas of 36 hours, with six additional hours to be added at the discretion of the individual institution. In four of the component areas, specific course were either mandated (e.g.), Communication included English/rhetoric/composition, and Social and Behavior Sciences included U.S. History and political science, or options were given as in the areas of Mathematics where logic, college level algebra equivalent, or above, and Humanities and Visual and Performing Arts where literature, philosophy, modern or classical language/literature and cultural studies were specified (THECB Rules, 1999, Chart 1, http). …


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