Friday, February 23, 2018

Perspective: Jean MacDonald on Credentials

The LAO - the Legislative Analyst Office - recently came out with a Report on Adult Education.  The report was posted on Adult Education Matters Facebook page.  Several readers responded.  With permission, here is Jean MacDonald's response (below the pertinent recommendations from the LAO Report.).

The LAO Report's Recommendations on Credentialing
"No Longer Require Adult School Instructors to Hold a Credential.
We recommend the Legislature amend statute so that individuals no longer need a teaching credential to serve as instructors at adult schools. By aligning qualifications for instructors, instructors could readily teach adult education courses at both community colleges and adult schools. Moreover, the change could help adult schools in hiring teachers. If the state has concerns about the quality of adult education instructors, it could encourage consortia to provide professional development as needed." - From the 2018 LAO Report on Adult Education…/2018-19-Adult-Education-Analysis-021518…

"Adult Education Instructors Held to Different Qualification Requirements.
Despite teaching similar content, instructors from community colleges and adult schools are subject to different minimum qualifications for employment. Whereas both community colleges and adult schools generally require instructors to have a bachelor’s degree or higher, statute places higher requirements on adult school instructors. Specifically, adult school instructors also must have a state-approved teaching credential. This inconsistency results in instructors who can teach at one segment but not the other. It also can make hiring instructors at adult schools more difficult than at community colleges."
From the 2018 LAO Report on Adult Education

Jean MacDonald responds:

This letter is in response to the latest attack on adult ed and its credentials, and the LAO proposals.

To my knowledge, in order to acquire a preliminary adult ed credential, the demands: paperwork, a CBEST, NO bachelor's degree and enrollmen
t in a State-approved program. UC Berkeley is on the list for example. Its program is 10 units total. Eight units are online, one is an orientation, and the other is student-teaching on-the-job. The whole program is 10 hours (One unit is 1 hour of coursework). This can be done in optional 3-5 years while teaching. Yes indeed, ten hours must be done within 3 to 5 years. Apparently, the report states this too burdensome. I disagree. ESL does require a BA. though.

Also, the report claims it is easier to get a job in a community college. Conversely, in my experience, if you want to work at Los Medanos, Diablo Valley, Las Positas.or Solano Community Colleges in ESL, you must have a minimum of a Master's in Applied Linguistics, TESOL, or the equivalent for part-time, and a PhD or equivalent for full-time tenure track.This is hardly easier than the adult ed credential requirements above. These two degrees are very time- and effort-consuming (expensive too) as opposed to NO degree required by the CTC for the adult ed credential. I think this should be looked at again. It is simply not factual.

Moreover, most teaching jobs in adult ed, although capped at around 19.5 hours, are more "stable", even as part time because they reoccur. Whereas, at a community college, the classes differ from one semester to the next. You find yourself more at-will. The report says the opposite.

Personally, I worked as an adjunct 4 years at Los Medanos College teaching different courses, classes, hours and was never called back again since. I have an MA in Ed, and have worked at my current positions in adult schools, part-time only, for 16+ years. I'm maxed out on the salary scale, at-will, no benefits, denied other open positions- dead-end/frustrated. I am told I won't be hired full-time for budget reasons. I want it known now so the situation can be improved.

From working in 4 different adult schools, I know they cap 90 % of their teachers, arbitrarily, at around 19.5 hours or so, regardless of the need, to save districts money (This info is easy to find in WASC reports). They claim they have none in the budget (not according to public websites). I have been told this for years. Dstricts have millions in reserves. So why are we still being short-changed a living-wage? The report does not address this. The sweat is on our backs as we do all the teaching.

Consequently, teacher-strapped administrators may then ask the same part-timers to refer friends to teach. They may leave flyers out daily for the incoming public to advertise the need for part-time teachers. Maybe the students know people. We would like more hours, but tough luck. Instead, classes are cancelled or doubled-up daily, no teacher or sub. signs on the door. We have to then run to 2 or 3 other districts, often the same day, part-time in each, no benefits anywhere- even though the money comes from the same originating sources, the AEBG, WIOA, the CDOE. And there seems to be plenty of it for everyone but us teachers: Secretaries, janitors, principals, non-teaching staff, TOSA's, consultants, even Board members may have comprehensive contracts and benefit packages. Adult Ed unfairly-made-to-be part-timers get none of it. We get all the hard work.

Morover, the adult ed teaching shortage is further aggravated when HRs don't advertise properly on EdJoin. They don't describe the working hours, or give adequate job descriptions (avoiding the facts- unpaid prep, extra unpaid administrative duties, no CA ED Code protections, at-will, etc.)The ads just say, "continued posting, ongoing opening, pool, no medical benefits, hourly, some mornings, hours vary." Who wants to apply for that uncertainty? Many don't. Many are not advertised at all. There are instances of backdoor-hiring. Since full-time jobs are so scarce, inside buddy-hiring has existed, which might not result in the best teachers for students. Actual result, you are left hopeless and look to leave the field. It happened to me. The proposed bill does not say anything to stop this.

As for letting the consortia handle professional development, that would be disastrous. A principal may cut your already-bargained-for PD Day to half for speaking up and being assertive in your union. The same principal may also be a consortium director-voter with other non-union adult ed school principals. Most adult schools do not enlist us in their unions- complaints about it ignored (another matter). The same consortia are headed by these types of principals from local adult ed schools.They may act like dictators fighting teachers tooth and nail at the bargaining table; They then have voting power of the AEBG and WIOA funding. Don't let the consortia be in charge of PD, please. Principals have wielded too much power against us.

Upper- mangement fights us too. An excuse I have heard is, "You want to work part-time. That is why we chose adult ed." It is like that all over the state." A "Wall of Shame." now exists for adult ed made-to-be part-timers. The same managers may make $160,000- $240,000+ minimums in salaries and benefits (Transparent The LAO may want to examine such stratifications in public personnel pay and benefits. I think it needs to be considered before any policy change is made. Otherwise, I fear the grant money will be wasted on lining executives' pockets. Their salaries and pensions are huger and huger public expenditures (Transparent We are broke, on food stamps, MediCal, homeless, etc. Various news articles have reported adjunct teachers' hardships. We must consider changing this.

There are many more pertinent and valid reasons why teachers have fled adult ed. They are not because of credentialing requirements. Eliminating credentials will dismantle, gut and further destroy quality teaching for good. Legal swindle complete. Sorry students. You don't matter because your teacher doesn't. Teaching-quality so obviously ill-considered, walk away, drop out, stay unskilled, be unemployed, don't speak English, go to prison, get public assistance. On the upside, principals, vice principals, superintendents, assistant superintendents and their school budgets will be richer.

Top-down systems need to change to more democratic ones. We the made-to-be-part-time adult ed teachers are more important. Spend the money on us. Change the Bill to prevent the above issues from continuing to happen to us and the students.

In all certainty, keep the measely 10-hour requirement, CBEST, fingerprinting-minimal professionalism of the field. Use at least some of the available money to make full-time adult ed instructors' jobs attractive to qualified people with the highest qualifications possible. We are completely left out all around. Teachers in adult ed have put the time in, got degrees, have student loans, families to support, bills to pay, like janitors, secretaries, principals, etc. They can't do it on a part-time basis. Sharing is caring. We care. Won't you?

I hope to see you on April 9 in Sacramento. I will be telling my story to legislators on committees.

Jean MacDonald, thank you for sharing your knowledge, wisdom and invitation to action. 

AEM welcomes Perspective pieces.  If you would like to share yours, contact Cynthia.

For more information about the April 9th rally hosted by CCAE, go here.

Adult Education RallyMonday, April 9, 2018
1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m.
Capitol Building, West Side
Sacramento, California

Students are welcome to join.

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