There seems to be a slight misunderstanding about whether or not the dual enrollment program has been suspended this fall because of a dispute between PCC and Pasadena Unified School District (PUSD). From the finger-pointing on one end, and the shields up on the other end, the KPCC story, titled, “Pasadena City College program suspended over who’s teaching it” – sounds alone like there was a mud-slinging fight between two close-knit families under one roof with an unsure idea on how this will get resolved.
In the article, it was reported that the dual enrollment was suspended due to the disagreement on who’s qualified to teach the classes. The president of PCC’s Faculty Association (FA) Mark Whitworth argued students aren’t getting a ‘real’ experience from actual college professors, while Ana Chavez, who’s a teacher at John Marshall Fundamental school – disagrees. Her rebuttal is that she went through the process to become a PCC professor and is able to teach dual enrollment classes.
The last dual enrollment class Chavez taught was in Spring ‘17 which was Intro to Spanish-Am literature (SPAN 006B).
Dr. Terry Giugni, the VP of Instruction, says only the classes have been put on ‘pause’ – not suspended – and both sides including FA & are currently in the process of working things out. The goal is for the dual enrollment program to resume by Fall 2018. The temporary halt of the contracted dual enrollment (or “embedded”) classes, according to Giugni, was never because of who’s qualified to teach them, but more of what was agreed with the FA.
“Of course we want whoever is teaching those courses to be the best teachers for the job,” Giugni said. “They also have to meet the minimum qualifications, so we have to vet them. The minimum qualifications to teach at a college is different than the min. qualifications to teach at a high school.”
From Giugni’s standpoint, PUSD has to agree with how the college hires and evaluates the teachers wanting to teach these dual enrollment classes. The agreement has to also be approved by both sides of the table.
“The agreement that we had with the high school district and PCC has to be approved by both administrations and both unions,” Giugni said. “There were concerns that were raised by our Faculty Association (FA) in regards to the agreement we made in place in fall ‘16, and so we’re working on those.”
To define what ‘dual enrollment’ is, it may depend on the colleges who are offering the classes – as well as how it is applied. According to Giugni, PCC offers two types of classes that are under its own definition of the dual enrollment program – embedded and concurrent enrollment (CE) classes. The only difference is when they’re taken. For example, the embedded classes are taken during regular hours of school (between 7AM-3PM), and CE classes takes place after school ends – which is usually around the time most students are participating in either sports or other extracurricular activities.
“This is something that is difficult for the community to see because dual enrollment, as we’ve introduced it, is this ‘at-the-same-time’ program – but in reality, no,” Assistant Director of Education Partnership & Programs Carbajal-Ramos said. “The only class that’s taking a pause is the one that is actively at the school site during the school time so that students don’t have to go to second period; they will go to PCC’s history class.”
Even though the embedded classes are temporarily unavailable, the concurrent classes are still being taken. As of right now, PCC is offering four classes and have added four more since April. In addition, there are about 648 students who are enrolled in the classes taken after school at PCC, John Muir, Rose City, and La Canada High. This population has to apply every semester because, according to Carbajal, “it’s all based off the students’ GPA regardless of which program they have.”
Carbajal-Ramos also noted both sides do have a say on what classes are going to be selected and used for the dual enrollment and concurrent classes. PCC gives a list of classes to PUSD to choose from – whichever fits their population needs. For example, certain populations might be interested in different things “based off of the region they’re living in, or even the grants they’re associated with…”
In addition to all of this, PUSD has the academic freedom to teach these dual enrollment or concurrent classes in any way their faculty see fit, yet the faculty has to adapt to their students’ needs. It’s not equitable for the teachers to teach all their classes the same way.
“How do you teach veterans or first-year students?” Carbajal-Ramos said. “You teach them based off what the students in the class at the time that you’re teaching need, because your next class may be different.”
Since the interview with KPCC, Chavez, who has kids that are former PCC students, said she would love to see more Marshall students attend as well. When she was teaching dual enrollment classes, her initial goal for her students was to transfer there with at least two Spanish classes done.
“PCC would be acquiring mostly students with at least a 3.0 GPA, and possibly a double major,” Chavez said. “But for sure they would be applying for an AA in Spanish, as most would have had taken at least 3-4 years in Spanish.”
John Muir, which in March became a new satellite campus called PCC Northwest, received an Early College Grant (in partnership with PCC) that will be used to start the dual enrollment program there this coming fall. The school applied for it because although it has the space to provide these classes, they’re also – along with the other public schools like Marshall, Blair, and Rose City – struggling for enrollment. If this plan benefits Muir, then it could work at other schools and they will apply for it in the years to come.
“For a school like John Muir, it was a blessing in disguise because they weren’t ready to ramp up to the scale that the grant required them to,” Carbajal-Ramos said. “For them it was an amped kind of a recruitment strategy.”
Unfortunately, this situation may hurt a Blair student, for example, because their school didn’t get those resources. Because of this, PCC “amped” up the dual enrollment classes, matriculation, and will be providing summer work. They will be working with other high school counselors to get students to take AP exams and apply to PCC and submit their scores so they could get college credit. This is taking effect while PCC and PUSD are working on improving their contract.
“It’s complicated in a sense, but we’re offering more in just a different way,” Carbajal-Ramos said. “We’re in the hopes that something like early college at Muir, where we can balance out later on in this history of PCC that this will just be seen as a pause and not a cancellation.”
PCC and PUSD are currently working things out to make sure that everything will be all set for dual enrollment classes to resume this fall.
“Nowhere was it near intended for the program to be cancelled altogether,” Carbajal-Ramos said.