After lengthy consultation with education alumni, Occidental has concluded that it will continue to support a robust education minor but will not seek re-accreditation for its K-12 teaching credential or master’s programs.
While high program costs, scarce resources, competition from other institutions, and current levels of student interest led to this decision, “Everyone was energized by a number of exciting ideas which emerged from our discussions, especially around integrating new technology into classroom teaching and urban education,” said a joint July 2 statement from Oxy administrators and education alumni.
“The College wants to keep these ideas on the table and to continue exploring possibilities with faculty and alumni, while it builds student interest through the minor in education,” said the statement from President Jonathan Veitch, Dean Jorge Gonzalez, and Jill Asbjornsen ’76 and Nancy Kuechle ’75, president and past president, respectively, of Alumni of Occidental in Education (ALOED).
“The College is open to more expanded programming, which could include a credential program, once a consensus has been established around a compelling vision that is able to secure sufficient student interest, financial support, education partners and faculty endorsement,” the statement said.
In the meantime, Oxy will pursue a number of initiatives designed to continue a long tradition of producing public school teachers and administrators. It will:
- Develop a business plan and seek foundation support to provide a summer training program for K-12 faculty with Oxy’s Center for Digital Learning and Research.
- Work with ALOED to establish mentoring opportunities for students interested in K-12 education. (Oxy currently has approximately 100 students working at Young Oak Kim Academy, Virgil Middle School, Sal Castro Middle School, and at Eagle Rock High in federally funded programs coordinated by its Neighborhood Partnership Program. In addition, dozens of recent Oxy graduates have accepted positions in Teach for America.)
- Work with ALOED and the Career Development Center to reestablish a "Walk in My Shoes" education program so that students can witness first-hand the challenges and possibilities of a career in education.
- Establish 4+1 programs with schools of education at institutions such as USC, UCLA, Claremont Graduate University and state universities to ensure that current students continue to have a path leading to careers in education.
- Develop partnership programs with local schools that will allow students to have hands-on experience in the classroom, and retain connections between the College and the local educational community.
Occidental and ALOED have been engaged in public dialogue over the future of Oxy’s contribution to K-12 education since the summer of 2011. The conversation was sparked when Oxy’s teacher credentialing program received accreditation with probationary stipulations and was given a year to resolve what a state accreditation team identified as a number of areas in need of improvement.
As a result, the College decided to drop, at least temporarily, its credentialing and master’s of education programs, take a step back, and study its options. The 16 students then enrolled in the program all successfully completed their studies.
It’s possible that the credential program could be revived “once a consensus has been established around a compelling vision that is able to secure sufficient student interest, financial support, education partners and faculty endorsement,” the joint July 2 statement said.
“As an institution with a distinguished history of producing great teachers and visionary school administrators, and one that is committed to supporting the public good, this work is central to Oxy's mission,” the statement said.