CFT's Adult Education Commission met on January 23rd, 2016. One of the topics for discussion was credentialing. With the new Regional Consortia system, which entails Adult Schools and Community Colleges working together to provide Adult Education, there is a need for clarity and streamlining where credentialing is concerned.
Shari Deghi, Coordinator of the new La Costa Adult School, details why she is concerned about this issue:
"I am happy the Adult Education Commission is shining a light on credentialing and I would like to add a major concern. The Adult Ed requirements for teachers are archaic, out of step with other post-secondary institutions and significantly hamper our ability to hire teachers and serve students. I am an administrator of La Costa Adult School on the San Mateo coast. I recently recruited a teacher with an MATESOL (Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) who could not teach ESL in our classroom. She had to take a CBEST test (that is at about the 7th grade level after she completed her Master’s degree) and then she only qualified for an emergency credential which means she’s limited to teaching 30 classes.
Her only option to be able to teach all year is to enroll in an Adult Education Credential program which costs about $4,000 and takes 18 months to complete. Why would a teacher do that to earn $35 an hour, part time?
The other way an adult school can hire a teacher is to find someone with a multiple subjects credential (middle school or high school teacher) who’s credential allows him/her to teach in “classes organized primarily for adults”. That’s great. Except that it’s very difficult to find a teacher who’s been wrangling kids all day, full-time, who wants to also prep and teach ESL classes at night!
To add insult to injury, adult schools can’t even hire college professors who’s been teaching ESL for years without requiring them to pass the CBEST and get an Adult Ed Credential.
There is a host of people who are qualified to teach ESL either because they’ve already been doing it or have the knowledge of English and experience teaching that would make them valuable assets for adult education. Here I am referencing people who’ve been teaching ESL for community based programs, for profit language companies, and international organizations. What’s necessary to teach ESL is a good background in English grammar, writing, phonics and pronunciation and an ability to relate well to students, none of which is taught as part of the adult ed credential.
As difficult as it is for people to afford living in the Bay Area, adult schools cannot find enough people who want to jump through all the necessary credentialing hoops to teach our classes. This has to change if adult education is going to thrive."
Keep in mind these credentialing challenges exists within a multi-caused teacher shortage in California Adult Education. One cause is the fact that many teachers lost their jobs during the cuts and closures and went on to other jobs. They are no longer available to take jobs as programs and schools re-open or start up. Another cause is the fact that working in Adult Education was not an attractive prospect during that time. Who would choose to enter a teaching profession that was being decimated? There are few new teachers ready to take new jobs. And thirdly, this shortage of Adult Ed teachers exists within a much larger teaching shortage. Read more about this problem and the legislators who are trying to do something about it in this Edsource article, "Legislators Challenge Sacramento to Tackle Teacher Shortage."