Wednesday, April 13, 2005

More on Sheepskin Envy

An eternal truth of higher education, as proposed by my longtime friend from Massachusetts Clare Cotton , is that three things drive us. To wit - greed, status and envy. We had the first hearing today on the bill proposing to change the Master Plan and I was struck with three things. First, aspirations seem to drive policy. The CSU aspires to be able to get more status - they are clearly not content with simply being the biggest public university system in the country and lord knows they don't seem intent on perfecting the model. But a lot of the questions by members in the committee were related to aspirations of constituents to get a title after their name. Second, sound research may or may not influence policy. A recent study by the Teacher's College at Columbia - a thoughtful and innovative place - suggests that the Ed.D. may not be a way to train people to run schools. That suggests two alternatives - either change the nature of the Ed.D. or equally logically, change the nature of the credentials recognized for school leadership. But the discussion in the committee suggested that creating a credential to match the aspirations and then offering them regardless of the demonstrated improvements in schools (more Ed.D.s do not seem to make much difference in school performance). Finally, being a good research university in not an easy job. UC is a pretty good place. They have done a serious effort to build new educational programs with CSU in joint programs. But these things cannot be built in a day. In the coming few years there will be 500 more slots in the state for these joint programs - but that does not seem to matter (500 is a lot of people in doctoral education if you want to maintain quality).

One other conclusion on the discussion today. The main representative for CSU commented they do 80% of the training of public school people in the state. That is nonsense. She knew and and so did everyone in the room - but she claimed it still. The #2 guy in CSU claimed that CSU will NEVER ask for more state support for these programs (even though he was quoted in a faculty senate discussion of saying we will get the program and then ask for more dough). That means one of a few things - either other parts of CSU will suffer (longer graduation times for undergraduates for example) or much higher costs for the students in the programs - or longer times to degree for each of the programs than would normally be taken in UC or independent college program. CSU probably has some faculty who could do some excellent training in this area. And were they creative they might suggest a new type of training that did not try to change the Masterplan for Higher Education - but aspirations are a powerful force.

No comments: