School is for the empty-minded

It was a big decision to enroll in a masters program earlier this year; one I did not take lightly. Unfortunately, I should have kept looking because I wasted time, effort, and most importantly, money on a program that does not value its students or apparently its reputation.

I was attending the University of Central Oklahoma-Edmond. It is one of three universities in the state that offers graduate course work in TESOL, and one that I could afford and that within travelling distance of my place of employment. I’ve known for some time that children just are not for me. I don’t enjoy teaching them and a program with a K-12 focus was just going to suck my soul. However, they had some good courses that I believed could complement my adult focus well, so I went ahead and applied and was granted entry. Now, there was no GRE; this wasn’t a problem for me because I refuse to see its validity and purpose. I took two courses that I believed would be most useful to me at the time: TESOL Grammar and Testing and Assessment. They were both busts. Well, to be fair, I learned at least a few things ABOUT grammar, but not necessarily how to TEACH grammar…which is what the class name implies and what, I think, it was supposed to be about. I quit liked the professor, though. The same I can’t say for the Grammar class as that “professor” was late more than 5 minutes every class period, forced our absence from class a total of 5 of the 16 week course, and was just all around unhelpful and lazy as hell. I can’t even get into her pitifulness at the moment, but I can’t help but to feel a sense of frustration at the fact that she, as the advisor for the program, can get away with this because I’m, apparently, just some pawn in this overpriced education scheme.

I was enrolled in a special education course that started June 30 and started that day and probably until the end of the course, no student was able to access any of the content. This was an online course. Am I missing something here?? My classmates and I repeatedly tried to e-mail, write to, and call our professor and this degenerate would never respond to us; all we were asking is that she open the modules so that we can learn. Apparently that was too much to ask of her. BY the end of the week, the drop period had passed, I was learning nothing by reading only the book and writing chapter summaries, and not teacher facilitation (which she claimed in her welcome letter and syllabus that she would indeed be doing,), I was done. I sent the dean a lengthy e-mail that I assumed he’d never read because, come one, he had to have known about these women, he appointed them! Here is what I said to him and his and the associate deans’ subsequent replies:

Dear Dean Machell,

I’m at a loss. I must confess that I typically do not reach out to the dean of the college, but I believe the circumstances at hand have reached an unreasonable point. Please allow me to start from the beginning. 

I have two separate incidences that both have ended in the same results. I intended to write to you about this months ago, however, I must say that I held a negative belief that my e-mail and concerns would go unanswered; I apologize for not giving you the chance to make your own decision about the situation. 
The situation I’m speaking about is vapid instructing by two of your charges- professors Dr. Barbara Green and Dr. April Haulman. I am currently in Dr. Green’s course, so I will begin with her. 
She is inattentive to our needs as online students in her SPED 4123/5123 course because our pleas for her to correct her dates from 2013 and 2014 on the D2L learning interface ( so that we may access her content to do our assignments) have all but gone unanswered. Because of her refusal to respond and thus refusal to aid us, I feel it necessary to write to you. Now, I too am a teacher to adults and fully understand that instructors are busy humans with life outside of their courses. However, per her syllabus, we should “allow for two days” for our e-mailed messages to be responded. It’s just shy of one week that no e-mailed response from said professor has been a reaponse; several students from class have spoken with the UCO Tech team in hopes that it was their error; it is not. I don’t believe you interfere with the material of the class, so I won’t address this much here other than to state that courses taken online are due facilitation and interaction to gain meaningful interpretation just like any other course and this is what is sorely lacking with this course. I’m not only livid, but I’m frustrated that I will not be learning what I believed to have been such a promising course; and that such a thing could occur at our, or any, university. As I previously mentioned, this is the second, similar incident I’ve had in this department. 
Dr. Haulman was my advisor for the M.Ed program, but I switched to adult higher education-interdisciplinary with a focus in TESL after just one semester (Spring 2015 was my first semester). Again, besides an issue with content, Dr. Haulman was disrespectful to my classmates and I. I do not mean to insinuate that she was abusive in any way, but it was rather a matter of showing up to class at the assigned time- which she consistently did no less than 9 minutes after the start time each class period. My time is valuable to me as it is to her, but if I can drive from my place of employment at least half an hour away from campus and arrive on time each class period, so can she. Consistently showing up late shows a lack of not only respect, but esteem for students. Not only was professor Haulman tardy, but a total of 4 or 5 weeks throughout the semester my classmates and I did not have class. I believe we all enjoy a break every now and then, but I as well as my classmates are paying for services not rendered. His is robbery. In addition, we had a substitute one shortened class period when Dr. Haulman was ill after her trip to Las Vegas, NV.  Dr. Haulman also is difficult to get a hold of via e-mail. The final thing I would like to bring to your attention is that though grading more than 6-7 things can be arduous in a class of 15, it by no means that I, as a student, do not deserve the chance for a fairly graded piece of work that I spent time creating. I know professor Haulman did not attentively look at and grade all of my artifacts in time for grades to be due because their simply wasn’t enough time. I don’t argue that I deserved an A (though that is indeed what I believe), but that the same level of attention and not a quick glance and a stamp of whatever grade pops into the mind of the professor must be given to all students. Moreover, when I asked for my feedback with her comments ( because I’m in the early early of starting a language company and believed her comments would be helpful), I was jerked around for a week because, in my opinion, she did not take the time to actively engage with my work the first time around and had to swiftly look over my items to give to me. Morever, I have had to go through great lengths to avoid taking April’s classes again as well as one other professor, Lopez, because I’ve lost confidence in their ability to instruct in their supposed field of expertise. This simply should not be. I should not have to go through such effort just to find quality instruction at my university, and certainly not be required to pay for apathetic teaching.  
Because of the two incidences with these two professors, I’m withdrawing from Dr. Greens’ summer course and indeed from the entire program and university. It’s a pity that in the end, I the student, will still have to pay for services not renders. I’m saddened that I will not accomplish my goal of graduating, but I feel enough time, effort, and finances have been given, with not much in return. I do not mean to say that it is the sole responsibility of the professor to pour information in the minds of a passive student; on the contrary, I, as an educator, know better than to believe this. However, I do believe that it is a collaborative effort with the instructor and student, especially in a graduate program, to find a common ground in which there is an equal give and take of effort; and I whole-heartedly believe that neither one of these two professors have brought their “A-games” to their respective courses. Again, because of this, I am un-enrolling from UCO and will instead continue building my language company without the educational background I had hoped to gain from the university.
His reply:

Dear Ms. Rhone,

I am sorry to hear of your negative perceptions of our faculty members & the two classes you reference, but do appreciate you reaching out to me. Our policy is for student concerns to be directed first to the faculty member responsible for the class and then to the department chair. I have asked my associate dean, Dr. Donna Cobb, to contact Dr. Green’s chair, Dr. Cheryl Evans, and Dr. Haulman’s chair, Dr. Paulette Shreck, to alert them of your concerns. I would encourage you to contact Drs. Green and Haulman first, then if not satisfied to contact their chairs. If you are still not satisfied after taking those steps you can contact me to arrange a meeting.
My final reply:

Dear Dean Machell,

I appreciate you getting back with me, however, I have washed my hands of this situation because it is the proper channels that need to go through, but time was not on my side in this matter. I’m still obligated to pay for this unsatisfactory performance by the professors and as I said in my e-mail, I completely withdraw from Dr. Green’s course (I don’t believe she didn’t know the issue at hand and for what reason refused to fix it is beyond me) and I won’t finish my degree at UCO. Again, I appreciate you taking the time to send me an e-mail.

The Associate Dean:

Ashley.

Dr. James Machell, Dean of the College of Education and Professional Studies asked that I contact you concerning the message that you sent to him earlier.  We want to be responsive to your concerns but according to University policy, you need to contact the appropriate department chairs.  Please contact Dr. Paulette Shreck, Chair of the Department of Curriculum & Instruction, concerning your concerns with Dr. April Haulman.  Dr. Cheryl Evans is the Chair of the Department of Advanced Professional and Special Services regarding the course taught by Dr. Barbara Green.  Their contact information can be found on the UCO Directory.  If you are unable to reach them, please let me know.  Thank you.

Dr. Cobb

I figured they would give me the whole “go through protocol” run around BS so I just went ahead and wasted my money by withdrawing from the course and the entire university. This whole experience has left me sour to the idea of completing the M. Ed. degree and graduate school in general. Gone (or perhaps they never existed) are the days in which school meant something and that an education could be afforded by most; not to mention students, teachers, administrators, etc. would be held accountable for their actions. I’m done.

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