Tuesday, April 3, 2001


Time to revamp master plan

In 1960 when it was unveiled, the plan for higher education in California was hailed as a model for all states.

Like cars, however, educational models need periodic fine-tuning and redesigning to meet the needs of a changing society.

The 1960 plan gave California State University the mission of producing teachers and the University of California system the role of distributing doctoral degrees. But it is time to retool the four- decade old education master plan. California faces a challenge in the new millennium to meet the needs of its rapidly expanding public schools, community colleges and colleges of education.

California State University officials now plan to seek Legislative approval that would allow its campuses to also offer education doctorates, which experts see as crucial for administrators in education.

CSU officials such as Vice Chancellor David Spence emphasize that the state now has fallen behind the nation in its production of education doctorates.

Spence points out: "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." Gus Garcia, professor of education at Cal State Bakersfield calls the plan a "good idea."

He pointed out that the need certainly exists locally for such a program. "People (from this area) are driving to the University of the Pacific in Stockton to get their (educational) doctorate," Garcia said.

From a practical standpoint, he reflected that the Legislature also would have to be willing to infuse the CSU system with adequate funding to get the doctorate program started on a sound basis.

Spence's plan gained support of the CSU's Board of Trustees at a recent meeting and now it needs approval from the Legislature. A bill by Sen. Dede Alpert, D-Coronado, specifically addresses that issue. At the same time, a legislative-sponsored committee is revising other aspects of the 1960 education master plan that established the division of duties among the California state university and college systems.

It's unknown how long it will take for Alpert's bill to be finalized. But the legislation should give top priority in adopting the plan so the educational doctorate program can be established as soon as possible in the CSU system. It would be nice for the state once again to become an innovative leader in educational circles.

Copyright© 2001, The Bakersfield Californian