Saturday, November 14, 2009

ELQIS workforce meeting - 2

I see two big divides in the ECE community. One is ECE vs elementary school, and the other is community colleges vs CSUs. They were both out in force at Thursday's ELQIS workforce subcommittee meeting.*

My favorite part was when Joel Gordon, of Santa Rosa JC, and Marianne Ann Jones, of CSU Fresno were asked about CC ECE courses counting for a CSU major or just toward a BA. Joel said they should count toward a major, and Marianne stepped on him, "Not major." She said classes taught at CSUs as upper division are more advanced than those at CCs, so the courses taught at CCs were only good enough for general ed, not a major.

This is simply false. I think she is just unaware of how advanced the content of the CC classes is and how appropriate it is for preschool teachers. I am personally aware of several teachers who have taught the same course at a local CC and a local CSU. Same text, same teacher, same syllabus, same class. One is upper division, one lower.

I will claim as facts that:

  • People with an AA in ECE from Cabrillo, or American River, or Grossmont, to name just three with really good programs, will on average be better preschool teachers than those with a BA in ECE from any CSU. 
  • Preschool teachers with an AA from the average CC are as good as  as those with a BA from the average CSU. 
  •  Preschool teachers with 24 units of ECE and an AA are more qualified than those with a BA in liberal arts or elementary ed and 12 units of ECE. The extra 60 upper division units might make you a more interesting person, and it might raise your salary, but they won't make you a better preschool teacher.

One reason is that CSU courses tend to be broader in scope, and CC courses tend to be little-kid specific. In Child, Family, and Community, the CSUs I'm familiar with spend more of their time on dating and less on raising kids. In Child Growth and Development,  CSUs spend more time on theory and less on how to teach little kids, while CCs spend most of their time on little kids. CSUs spend most of their time on older kids. They don't ignore 0-5, but they don't emphasize them.

In short, CSUs teach people about kids. CCs teach people how to be preschool teachers. (I'm prepared for some CSU teacher to say that her CSU does it differently, and good for them, but this has been my experience. I also realize the apparent contradiction between the classes being better for preschool teachers at CCs, while some teachers teach the same class at a CSU and a CC. The ones I know are CC teachers who are adjunct at the CSU, so they are upgrading the CSU program by bringing a CC sensibility to it.)

Besides, for all I admire preschool teachers, the academic content needed for teaching preschoolers is fairly small compared to teaching history, or math, or biochemistry. You really can learn all you need to know to teach preschool in two years. The quality of interaction between teacher and student is much more important for a preschool teacher than it is for a computer engineer, and it is much more important to a preschool teacher than a few more class sessions on constructivist theory.

And as a practical matter, if we require a BA for a lead teacher for, say, tier 3, then we're going to become a tier 2-standard industry. It will be impossible to have a BA as a standard for a lead teacher in child care, because:

  • Many women in child care are just not academically oriented. I know it's not nice to say it, but your average Title 22 assistant teacher is never going to pass college algebra.
  • When women get a BA, they can get jobs that pay a lot more than child care, for example kindergarten. (Yes, I know, they have to have more than a simple BA in liberal arts to teach in public schools.) BAs will be standard for preschool when preschool is grade Pre-K, and lead teachers are in  the AFT or the CTA.

To his credit, David Gordon, whom I've said bad things about, seemed to realize that a BA was not really in the cards for most family child care and Title 22 child care. I have more to say about the issue, but this is long enough for now.

*And kudos to CDE for streaming the meeting live on the web. Those of us without budgets for travel to San Diego or Sacramento could listen, even if we couldn't participate. The biggest problem was at that distance it was hard to tell if that was really steam coming out of Joel Gordon's ears when he talked about stuff that was important to him and had been decided at the previous meeting but that was left out of the interim report. He cares a lot about articulation, as should we all.

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