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Resolution Summaries

Academic Preparation and Education Programs Committee

Bob Buckley (Sacramento), Chair
Over the past few years the committee has prepared a number of resolutions dealing with the offerings of career technical (CTE) courses in California high schools.  There has been considerable lobbying in Sacramento for these courses to be used to satisfy in part the requirements for entrance to the University of California and the California State University systems.

These requirements are referred to as the A-G courses required for entrance to the University of California and the California State University systems. The A-G refers to the seven general subject areas labeled “A” through “G”.  [The required courses in the seven areas are: A) 2 years of History/Social Science, B) 4 years of English, C) 3 years of Mathematics, D) 2 years of Laboratory Science, E) 2 years of a Language other than English, F) 1 year of Visual and Performing Arts, and G) 1 year of College-Preparatory Electives.]

Courses in any of the seven areas must be UC and CSU approved. Criteria are developed and approved by the Board of Admissions and Relations with Schools (BOARS).  This Board has faculty representatives from both the CSU and UC.  Once criteria are approved, the administrative work of processing course proposals is carried out by the University of California Office of the President.  Approved CTE course proposals would be included in the elective set for Area G. 

Many of the CTE course proposals are in areas in which the UC has no curricular expertise.  As a result the CTE lobby argued that little action was being taken in approving CTE courses.  Legislation was subsequently approved and Title 5 amended to require the Academic Senate of the CSU to prepare the criteria and for the Board of Trustees to approve of the recommended process for developing the criteria.  Timelines were set for compliance, with the threat that the California Department of Education would assume this function with the state Board of Education approving the criteria.

The CSU Board of Trustees took action to assume this responsibility last spring.  The process for identifying faculty to develop the criteria has yet to begin. 

In the meantime, the State Department of Education under the direction of the Superintendent of Public Instruction has moved ahead unilaterally and developed the criteria for approving CTE courses. 

The Committee has prepared a resolution (AS-3104-12/APEP) that asserts the CSU has the state mandated responsibility for doing the work to develop CTE course criteria by appointing expert CSU faculty to groups for CTE courses in the various discipline areas.

The committee authored an additional first reading resolution (AS-3103-12/APEP): “Importance of Considering the Unique Characteristics of the CSU Student Body and the Differential Impact That Proposed Policy Will Have on Students”.   The most recent policies in question are 1) the various versions of the mandate to require all majors to limit requirements to ensure that student can graduate with no more than 120 units; 2) the set of additional fees to be initiated for students repeating courses; 3) enrolling in more than 16 units; or 4) accumulating in excess of 150 units.  Much has been written and discussed about these latest initiatives.  The intent of this resolution is to address more generally the difficulties in proposing policy initiatives without a full understanding of not only the causes of what is viewed as needing correction but also the efficacy of what is being proposed. 

The following quote in many ways describes the efforts of those that wish to do good but have little understanding of the variety and complexity of that which they hope to “correct”. 

Diane Ravitch - Death and Life of the Great American School System (2010)

“I was certainly influenced by the conservative ideology of other top-level officials in the Bush administration who were strong supporters of school choice and competition. But of equal importance, I believe, I began to think like a policymaker, especially a federal policy maker. That meant, in the words of a book by James C. Scott that I later read and admired, I began “seeing like a state,” looking at schools and teachers and students from an altitude of 20,000 feet and seeing them as objects to be moved around by big ideas and great plans.”

Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed, by James C. Scott

The difficulty is in the recognition that we all too often are operating at "20,000" feet.

For more information, contact committee Chair Bob Buckley or visit the committee website.