New York University professor fired after students say his class was too hard

    November 2, 2022

New York University professor fired after students say his class was too hard
 The firing of a New York University (NYU) professor who was the subject of a petition from students who said his class was too hard continues to stoke controversy, as some parents and teachers say the incident points to a lowering of academic standards.
Maitland Jones Jr, a professor of organic chemistry, was fired by NYU after more than 80 students from his 350-student course signed a petition complaining about grades, teaching and help received during the Covid pandemic.
Jones, 84, received a message from the dean of science in August terminating his contract, the New York Times reported.
Chemistry professors opposing the decision wrote to several NYU deans, saying they were worried the case could undermine faculty freedom and weaken proven teaching practices.
“We are all on the same side of wanting students to succeed but we are using misaligned, and in many cases flawed, metrics to evaluate success,” Stephanie Lee, one of the professors who signed the letter, said in a tweet.
“One consequence of this misalignment is that our actions are becoming fear-driven.”
The student petition protested that Jones’s class was too hard and that students lacked resources and help. It did not say the professor should be fired.
“We urge you to realize that a class with such a high percentage of withdrawals and low grades has failed to make students’ learning and wellbeing a priority and reflects poorly on the chemistry department as well as the institution as a whole,” the petition read.
Jones, a widely accredited professor known for writing an organic chemistry textbook, told the Times he had been thinking of retiring but was worried what the NYU decision could mean for other professors and faculty.
An NYU spokesperson defended the firing, emphasizing high student withdrawals and bad course evaluations. The statement said the decision was also based on complaints about dismissiveness, unresponsiveness, condescension and lack of transparency about grading.
Some students believe the pandemic completely disrupted their ability to prepare for classes such as organic chemistry, a fundamental course for those hoping to go to medical school.
Some parents are pushing back. Several groups have said the NYU decision is indicative of a problem in a school system they believe is too lenient on students.
“When paying for an education at a reputable university, we should expect quality professors to intellectually challenge our students, helping them to grow by pushing them to stretch beyond what is convenient and comfortable,” Elicia Brand, founder of Army of Parents, told Fox News.
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Discussion Questions
New York University professor fired after students say his class was too hard
condescension –
 organic chemistry –
 petition –
 accredited –
 dismissiveness –
 transparency – (make sure you use the right context for this word)
 convenient –
Based on the evidence presented in the article, do you think the professor should have been fired? Briefly explain why or why not.
Who should decide how hard to make the course: the professor, the dean of the department, a committee, the students, etc.? Why?
Students signing the petition represented 22% of the students in the course. In your opinion, is that a high enough percentage for the university to act? Explain why or why not.
The article says the professor “received a message” that his contract was terminated. Should he have been fired in person? Explain why or why not.
Why do you think that the school fired him by sending him a message?
What effect do you think this is likely to have on other professors? 3 answers 
Do you think that this will weaken known teaching practices? Explain why or why not.
The student petition did not call for his firing. Do you think the university went too far? Do you think some students will regret having signed the petition? Explain your answers.
Organic chemistry is a very necessary course for those going to Medical School. Should there be a version of the course for those going to medical school that is perhaps harder than those taking the course for other reasons? Explain why or why not.
Some students cited COVID lockdowns as diminishing their skills. How long past the lockdowns should we expect students to recover their skills?
At what point are students responsible for bringing their education skills up to par for college? High school?

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