“History of Terrorism” blamed for loss of TSA program at SMC

A program authorized by the Board of Trustees in October of 2011 was to bring a Transportation Security Administration Associates Certificate Program to the school that would train new and existing TSA agents failed to materialize after the program was scrapped by college governance. Information found by the Corsair shows that the Curriculum Committee scrapped the program in a decision dating back to December of 2011. The committee majority voted for a motion to not approve a course, effectively ending program prospects.

According to the minutes of a Dec. 7, 2011 meeting, discussions of the program “led to concerns expressed over the appropriateness of housing this course in the Philosophy/Social Sciences department (and SMC) as well as ideological, curricular and philosophical objections to the course.”

The class in question, “History of Terrorism,” was one out of three courses needed to complete certification as a TSA agent. To become a full-fledged class offered at SMC, approval by the CC, and eventually the Board of Trustees, would have been necessary.

“Members of the Curriculum Committee had different views of the pluses and minuses of the program,” said Georgia Lorenz, Dean for Instructional Services and Vice Chair of Academic Affairs. She added that some members of the Committee felt they weren’t accurately prepared to teach the program.

“The people who voted it down didn’t think it met the standards of the college,” said James Pacchiolo, a full-time English Professor who voted in the final decision. According to him, the program did not fit well in the Social Sciences Department.

“It would be like if the Astronomy Department came before us with a poetry course.” To Pacchiolo, it was an attempt in vain to make the course more relevant to Social Science.

“We only developed one course,” said Teresita Rodriguez, Vice President of Enrollment Development. The Committee at the time requested to see more specific coursework in regards to the class. Members also wondered at its merit.

“The document looked like it was put together on the fly,” said Pacchiolo.

The course, according to Guido Piccolo, Chair of the CC, was “primarily composed by the TSA,” with some material modified “slightly to also address our concerns,” he said. Piccolo was in charge of presenting the material to Committee members.

The current TSA Program operates in conjunction with other community colleges and gives current employees, also known as “screeners,” a chance to get an AA degree in Homeland Security, according to the TSA website. The courses would have been offered as Contract Education at LAX.

“Could the program have grown? Perhaps. I think that was the goal of some at SMC,” Piccolo says.

If Proposition 30 fails, Santa Monica College has predicted furloughs or layoffs of classified employees and the cutting of 500 sections.