On the Other Hand. There Is No Other Hand

Chair, Standards and Practices Committee 09-10
Former Chair, S & P Committee 08-09

The title of this article is a simplification of the conflict within the lead character, Tevye, in the musical Fiddler on the Roof. For much of the show, Tevye struggles with change and debates out loud, for the sake of the audience, the pros and cons of new ideas as his young daughters challenge him to think differently about love, finding a mate, and core values. This year, faculty will contend with a similar challenge, not about love or marriage, but like Teyve's, it will test the basic tenets of the academe. Faculty will determine whether or not there should be an equivalent to the associate degree for minimum qualifications in disciplines on the non-master's list.

A resolution was considered at the Spring 2009 Plenary Session that would define the minimum educational qualification for teaching credit courses in non-master's disciplines in the California community colleges as an associate degree. This determination would rewrite Title 5 and establish that credit courses assigned to non-master's degrees disciplines will be taught by faculty with at least an associate degree, for which there is no equivalent. Establishing this minimal educational requirement for the Disciplines List would be a change from the current practice of allowing equivalencies for the associate degree, which is permitted under current Title 5 regulations.

The resolution was referred to the Executive Committee with a request that the pros and cons of establishing such a requirement be provided to local senates for consideration before voting on the matter. This article does not attempt to provide the pros and cons, but begins to raise the issues that will inform the final list of reasons for and against this possible change. We encourage you to discuss these ideas in your senate and especially with those colleagues who typically hire faculty with qualifications from the non-master's list.

These issues are not listed in any order nor do they officially support or oppose requiring an associate degree as the minimum educational standard for credit faculty.

  • High school vocational teachers often have the same minimum qualifications as non-master's list faculty in community colleges who teach credit courses-there is no minimum degree required. In fact, in some high school programs, such as ROP, the qualifications may be higher than those required to teach in community college vocational areas. Do we want to increase the distance between K-12 and community colleges with regard to standards for hire?
  • For community college faculty, credit and noncredit faculty have the same qualifications for those disciplines usually found on the non-master's list. This has advantages and disadvantages for students, faculty and programs, and raises other concerns about equitable salaries and workloads for equally qualified faculty.
  • It can be difficult to find qualified faculty with an associate degree who also have the required work experience when hiring for disciplines on the non-master's list.
  • Removing the option for equivalencies for the associate degree reduces local control and flexibility needed by colleges in hiring the best faculty to teach in a discipline.
  • The Senate has taken the position that it is necessary for community college faculty to have the experience of completing a general education in order to help students successfully navigate the college experience and to capably advise students of other educational pathways beyond vocational coursework or certificates.
  • Regulations require that equivalencies granted are AT LEAST equivalent to the defined minimum qualifications (Title 5 53430b).
  • The chief instructional officers conducted a survey last fall about equivalencies. The results of the survey indicate that most equivalencies are given for master's degree disciplines, especially mathematics, PE, and the arts. This conclusion was contrary to the understanding of many faculty who believed that more equivalencies are given for non-master's disciplines.
  • Since the associate degree is awarded by community colleges, is it possible for unqualified candidates to become qualified by enrolling at our colleges and completing degree requirements?
  • Should there be a minimum standard for faculty teaching credit courses in the California community colleges?

If you think of other issues related to or arguments either for or against this possible change, please contact the chair of Standards and Practices Committee, Wheeler North (wnorth [at] sdccd.edu). The committee will be gathering information from which the pro and con arguments for the proposed change will be produced. Like Teyve, faculty will find themselves considering the issues on one hand and then the other, until there is no other hand and only one decision to be made.