Tuesday, May 26, 2020

College Credit for High School Students? It's Not Working.

So says Professor Nicholas Tampio, of AP courses, and I couldn't agree more. There is a whole lot involved in college courses that may or may not be covered in AP courses. The fact is these courses are a financial bonanza for the College Board, which uses us and our schools as resources, then shares nothing back with our system. My friend Jonathan gives chapter and verse on his blog.

In fact, according to state regulations, there's a whole lot involved in teaching high school that isn't required for college. At Francis Lewis High School we have a program called College Now, given in cooperation with Queensborough Community College. Essentially, a bunch of college teachers unqualified to teach high school students come in and teach high school students. Of course these teachers are not certified to teach high school, and that's just fine with the DOE. Rules are for the little people.

I had to take all sorts of tests to get this job. I had to be fingerprinted. I had to send my college transcripts in to multiple places more times than I can count. I had to take specialized courses in special education, which I don't teach, and a whole bunch of other things so varied I can't even recall what they are. I had to fulfill requirements for certification. When I couldn't get a job teaching under that certification, I had to get another one. In fact, I've got three altogether.

Do you know what the requirements are to teach in college? I'll tell you. The one and only requirement is to get the college to give you a job. I taught for twenty years at the English Language Institute at Queens College. I first heard about it when I was taking my master's. One of my classmates was teaching there. I tried to get them to hire me but they didn't need me that badly. However, they gave me a job as soon as I'd completed my master's.

I also taught for a few years at Nassau Community College. It was pretty easy for me to get that job, having worked in Queens. The money was good, but when I became chapter leader it became impossible to do the extra work. In fact, it became pretty much impossible to do the work I was already doing (and it still is).

I'm not sure, though, that I meet the exacting standards over at Queensborough Community College. You see, they teach very important stuff there, like astronomy. No one at my school is certified to teach astronomy, so they needed to send their own person. (The fact that there is no such thing as certification in astronomy is neither here nor there.) They also teach health, which of course a whole lot of high school teachers could teach, but I can only suppose high school teachers are not healthy enough for the geniuses over at Queensborough.

There were a bunch of people teaching English too, but they were high school teachers. Queensborough, being such a fine institution, fired the lot of them, and now there are far fewer. However, there are a handful of Queensborough teachers still at Francis Lewis, raking in a whole lot of cash to teach high school students even though they are manifestly unqualified. I will tell you something--it's a whole lot easier to teach college than high school. It's a whole lot more important to help the kids we serve than ones who can afford to pay. When my fellow college teachers had severe trouble with shared students, it was a relative walk in the park for me. Still, I know where I'm really needed.

I filed a grievance demanding that these jobs be posted and offered to qualified teachers. This was several years ago. I'm still waiting for it to go to step two. I have spoken to many people at many levels of UFT and no one wants to touch this. Meanwhile, my people get fired, and the students at Francis Lewis are being taught by utterly unqualified teachers, utterly unsupervised, in violation of state law. Students are getting both college and high school credit despite the fact that these teachers, unlike those of us who did the work, are absolutely uncertified and have no right to grant credits.

Oh, and no one who actually bothered to get the certification has been offered most of these jobs. Queensborough Community College has its own standards, whatever they may be, and following state law is evidently not among them.

There must be a better way to offer college credit to high school students.  I've yet to see it.
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