New Plan Calls for Radical Changes At Berkely
A highly controversial plan calling for a sweeping reorganization of the School of Education at the University of California at Berkeley will be submitted to Chancellor Ira Michael Heyman within the next few days.
Prepared at the request of Chancellor Heyman by Stephen S. Weiner, a member of the university administration and acting dean of the school, the report will recommend, according to Mr. Weiner, the dissolution of the school's existing departmental structure, the establishment of a "substantially different" faculty, sharply reduced enrollment in doctoral programs, the discontinuation of the Ed.D.degree, and a narrower curriculum.
New Programs Recommended
Other recommendations of the report involve the creation of programs to: increase significantly the participation of Berkeley faculty from other fields in the study of education, renew emphasis on undergraduate instruction, and improve the working relationship between education faculty and practicing educators.
According to James W. Guthrie, current chairman of the university's department of education, all but one of Berkeley's education faculty members have formally expressed their opposition to Mr. Weiner's plan.
The Weiner reorganization plan, four months in the making, follows the release last May of an extremely critical evaluation of the School of Education by a Berkeley faculty-student commission.
That study, also ordered by Chancellor Heyman and conducted by three professors and a graduate student from other fields, attacked the education school for poor scholarship and "a disturbing lack of leadership." It recommended the total dissolution of the education school.
The proposals Mr. Weiner will make this week to the chancellor were outlined in detail in a Nov. 25 draft that was circulated to Berkeley education faculty. Although he will propose a radical reorganization of the study of education at Berkeley--considered one of the leading education schools in the country--he will not adopt the so-called Smeltzer Report's recommendation to abandon completely the idea of a centralized location for the study of education on the Berkeley campus.
"I shall recommend, and recommend strongly," Mr. Weiner wrote in the Nov. 25 draft, "that the Berkeley campus should...stay in the field of education."
The key element of his plan, says Mr. Weiner, is the replacement of the school of education with a "faculty of education."
Up to 50 percent of the voting members of this proposed faculty would be chosen from fields outside education (it would include approximately 20 professors of education); authority would be consolidated in a deanship (it is now divided between a dean and a chairman); and the number of degree-seeking students would be cut in half, from 400 to 200.
The Weiner plan calls for the "faculty of education" to have two main divisions, an instructional unit and an "institute of education."
Newly Organized Programs
The instructional section would limit itself to offering the M.A. and Ph.D.--but not Ed.D.--degrees in four newly organized programs: language and literacy, science and mathematics education, education foundations and management, and, to a much lesser degree, higher education.
In addition to the de-emphasis of higher education, existing counseling-psychology and education-policy programs would likely be abolished under the reorganization plan.
The new institute would coordinate campus-wide educational research, develop new undergraduate education courses, and serve as a "catalyst" for a greatly expanded "public service" role in education for Berkeley, by conducting national seminars and conferences on educational policy, developing a large-scale publications program, and fostering closer ties with school districts through a "School-University Network."
Mr. Weiner will also propose that the educational-psychology faculty be separated from the school of education and shifted to a new department of educational psychology in the university's College of Letters and Science.
There is strong opposition among the current 41 full-time faculty members in the school of education to Mr. Weiner's proposal, especially to the dramatic realignment of faculty appointments and to his decision to appoint professors to the faculty directly rather than to create new departments. Only 30 percent of Berkeley's current education faculty members would remain in the new faculty of education.
"Departments are the basic building blocks of this campus," says Mr. Guthrie. "On the Berkeley campus, without a departmental appointment, you do not exist. The majority of the [education] faculty is vehemently opposed to the Weiner proposal."
The entire education faculty, with the exception of one member, recently sent a petition in opposition to the Nov. 25 Weiner report to the university provost for professional schools, according to Mr. Guthrie.
Associate Professor of Education David S. Stern says the Berkeley education faculty is "suspicious" of the Weiner plan, because not having departmental status "would make it easier to remove faculty."
"I oppose departmental structures very strongly," asserts Mr. Weiner in response. "Departments would recreate the isolation and turf battles that have been part of the poor performance of the school of education in the past.
"The faculty are looking for a way to protect themselves," he continued. "They deserve respect, but they have to recognize that the study of education must be a campus-wide activity if it is to regain the respect of the rest of the university. It is absolutely essential that Berkeley faculty members outside education play an active role in education policy. Some education faculty feel this is an imposition."
Education Policy Study
Mr. Weiner's assertion that university faculty from other fields need to be actively involved in the study of education was echoed recently by Stanford University's president, Donald Kennedy, during an announcement of a new Stanford plan to launch a three-year study of education policy that will result in the reorganization of that university's graduate school of education.
Mr. Weiner adopted the "faculty-of-education" concept to ensure a ''strong, central focus" for education on the Berkeley campus, he says, in reaction to strong faculty criticism of a proposal in an earlier draft of his report that would have dispersed the study of education into five largely autonomous "graduate groups." Mr. Guthrie and a nine-member faculty "policy committee" will submit an alternative reorganization proposal--which includes departments--to Chancellor Heyman this week. Mr. Guthrie says that the absence of departments will be taken as an insult by faculty members and that as a result "it will be difficult to get much work out of the faculty."
Chancellor Heyman said through a spokesman that he will not comment on the Weiner report until it is formally submitted.
However, in written remarks made shortly after the Smeltzer Report's release last May, he said, "My initial reaction, in light of the analysis contained in the report, is that broader mechanisms than the school [of education] are necessary for [the university] to realize its potential contributions in the field of education."
Chancellor Heyman is expected to decide on the reorganization of the education school by March of next year.
Vol. 01, Issue 14