March 21, 2001

Associated Press

CSU seeks education doctorate programs to meet growing student population

Associated Press Writer

LONG BEACH, Calif. (AP) -- Faced with a boom in California's student population, the nation's largest public university system said Wednesday it will seek permission to offer education doctorates.

California State University does not independently offer education doctorates, which some experts see as crucial for administrators in education. A 1960 plan gave CSU the mission of producing teachers and the University of California system the role of distributing doctoral degrees.

The time has come to modify that plan, supporters said, if the state is to meet the challenging needs of its rapidly expanding public schools, community colleges and colleges of education. Additionally, California has fallen behind the nation in its production of education doctorates, supporters said.

"We're going to have a tremendous need for leaders who can promote California school improvement efforts, many of which involve new ideas and concepts that other states haven't even yet tried," said David Spence, CSU executive vice chancellor.

Spence presented the proposal to CSU's board of trustees during its meeting at California State University, Long Beach. The administration doesn't need the board's approval to seek legislative approval for its proposal, but several trustees voiced support for it Wednesday.

A bill by state Sen. Dede Alpert, D-Coronado, addresses the issue, and a legislative-sponsored committee currently is revising the 1960 master plan that established the division of duties among the state university and college systems.

It's unknown how long it will take for the bill to be finalized and taken up in the Legislature, but some trustees speculated it could be a couple of years.

The California State University system has the authority to offer doctorates only if it does so jointly with UC or independent universities, but only a few have been established since 1960.

Spence also noted that cost and access are key issues for students. CSU could offer doctorates at an estimated $5,000 to $6,000, compared to $15,000 to $16,000 at UC and $45,000 to $50,000 at private universities, he said.

The CSU system, which has more than twice as many campuses as UC, also is geographically located to serve doctoral students in many areas around the state, he said.

The system would create a unique program designed to involve more minorities and to respond to the state's new curriculum standards that would not duplicate UC's programs, Spence said.

Julius Zelmanowitz, vice provost for academic initiatives at the University of California, said in an interview that UC is establishing additional joint programs and contended that the need for educators with doctorates in education is not as great as CSU claims.

There has been no evidence of an increased demand for education doctorates, Zelmanowitz said, although he acknowledged that there will be a growing need for education doctorates in the higher-education level.

There also is a question about whether a doctorate in education is even the best thing for K-12 administrators, he said.

"What is the kind of training that principals and superintendents should receive to be leaders of schools?" he said.

Zelmanowitz also noted that establishing doctorate programs is very expensive and that it takes a long time to create joint programs.

Spence said CSU would need to seek additional money from the state's general fund in order to finance the doctoral programs, but would not give an exact figure on how much more money would be needed. Board Trustee Harold Goldwhite estimated it might cost $5 million to $10 million a year to support the programs.

Trustee Murray L. Galinson said it's imperative that CSU pursue the programs if it is to properly serve the state.

"I think ... we can't worry about stepping on toes and the only toes we're stepping on are UC's toes and private institutions, and they have no logical reason for saying we should not do this other than that they can do it and they aren't doing it," he said.

University systems that have a monopoly on doctoral programs often are reluctant to see other institutions get the right to develop such programs because they're afraid of losing business, one education expert said.

Vincent L. Ferrandino, executive director of the National Association of Elementary School Principals based in Alexandria, Va., also said education doctorates historically are prerequisites for anyone interested in taking on districtwide leadership positions in K-12.

"It's sort of a calling card that is required for some of the upper-level leadership positions in education," said Ferrandino, who has a doctorate in education.

Ferrandino echoed Spence's concerns that doctoral programs be geographically accessible to students, but noted that the quality of the program is the chief concern.

"The more important question is ... is the program preparing people for the challenges that they are going to be seeking," he said.