In Spring 2010, the Academic Senate adopted the following resolution:
Whereas, Noncredit education is an integral component of the California community colleges and is essential to the colleges’ mission and role in serving California;
Whereas, The allowed noncredit offerings in the California community colleges serve areas such as access, equity, adult educational advancement, vocational training, citizenship, and the health and well being of many communities, including the disabled, new parents and older adults, and immigrants;
Whereas, Noncredit and credit programs should ensure educational rigor, processes, and high standards of quality in a manner consistent with public higher education in California; and Whereas, Currently, noncredit disciplines, areas of instruction, and minimum qualifications for noncredit faculty are not contained in the Disciplines List because they were instead directly included into Title 5, reflecting outdated K-12 regulations, and are consequently more difficult to maintain in a manner that best meets community needs and legislated expectations, particularly with regard to SB361 (2006) regulatory changes such as Career Development College Preparation;
Resolved, That the Academic Senate for California Community Colleges establish a task force of noncredit faculty to examine the existing noncredit faculty minimum qualification regulations in consultation with the appropriate constituents for the purpose of placing the qualifications in the Disciplines List, thereby implementing the same processes that are currently used for all other disciplines, faculty, and administrators; and
Resolved, That Academic Senate for California Community Colleges recommend the noncredit minimum qualifications be removed from Title 5 §53412 and placed in a separate category in the Disciplines list.
In preparation for the work of the task force, the Academic Senate’s Noncredit Committee has considered the issues related to the moving of the minimum qualifications (MQs) for noncredit instructors out of Title 5 and into the Disciplines List. In fact, the Committee has little concern with actually moving the MQs into the Disciplines List. Initially, the Committee envisions that the MQs as detailed in Title 5 will simply be deleted from Title 5 and placed into a separate section of the Disciplines List as they are.
It is the process for approval of future changes to the MQs once noncredit is incorporated into the Disciplines List that is the issue of greatest concern to the Committee. Given that fewer than 3% of voting delegates at an Academic Senate Plenary Session are noncredit faculty, the members of the Committee are concerned about proper inclusion of noncredit faculty in the vetting and voting on proposals. While members recognize that it is not necessary to be a noncredit faculty member to vote on a noncredit MQ proposal, just as it is not necessary to be a history faculty to vote on a history MQ proposal, there are some problems with the current process for soliciting input and feedback from noncredit faculty on proposals and to inform voting.
Traditionally, local senates solicit feedback from their discipline faculty on any MQ proposal that impacts their area. Since fewer than 5% of noncredit faculty are full-time, this means that local senate presidents will need to make a greater effort than usual to get feedback from noncredit discipline faculty, many of whom will only be partly engaged with the college or district. In addition, noncredit faculty, even in colleges that have full-time noncredit faculty, are not always represented in their local senates, further exacerbating the difficulty of effective communication when it comes to noncredit issues.
A second challenge for the Academic Senate is the issue of getting feedback from faculty through professional organizations regarding noncredit MQ proposals, something which is regularly done for credit MQ proposals. The Association of Community and Continuing Education (ACCE) is widely recognized as one of the primary organizations representing the interests of noncredit. However, ACCE is dominated by administrators, which is not surprising given the low numbers of full-time noncredit faculty. While California Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages (CATESOL) has a strong representation of noncredit ESL faculty in its membership, it is unclear whether there is representation for noncredit faculty in other professional organizations such as ECCTYC (English) and CMC3 (mathematics). Career technical education noncredit covers a wide range of subject areas, and career development is, at best, ill defined. Furthermore, there are noncredit areas for which there may be no professional organization, such as older adults, health and safety, home economics, and parenting. The Committee strongly supports the resolution’s call for a separate section of the Disciplines List for noncredit MQs. However, the Committee is not sure whether or not there is any benefit to also including noncredit in the lists organized by requirements. Inclusion would integrate noncredit with credit, showing that both are part of the community college system. However, there is some concern that putting the MQs for credit and noncredit side by side might invite unwanted comparisons.
Finally, while the resolution calls for moving MQs listed in section 53412 from Title 5 to the Disciplines List, in fact, noncredit MQs are also listed in sections 53413 (Apprenticeship) and 53414 (DSPS). It seems appropriate to incorporate these MQs into the Disciplines List as well even though the sections in Title 5 for these two areas may remain.
If you have any additional concerns or comments regarding noncredit MQs, please direct them to Mark Wade Lieu at mwlieu [at] asccc.org.