Program Could Benefit Leaders in Education

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In an effort to improve leadership in K-12 urban school districts, UC Berkeley may create a joint doctoral program with some CSU campuses.

The Urban Educational Leadership Joint Doctoral Program, still in the planning stages, will create a collaboration between UC Berkeley and the CSU campuses at San Francisco, San Jose and Hayward to give public school principals and administrators the chance to earn a professional doctoral degree in urban educational leadership.

The program is scheduled to begin summer 2003 with space for 15 students.

Administrators who participate in the program could earn the degree in three years and use it to take positions of leadership in the state or county education departments, said P. David Pearson, Dean of UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Education.

Pearson described the program as "highly rigorous, but also relevant."

"It is absolutely crucial that the university get involved in training leaders at all levels," said Norton Grubb, a professor at the Graduate School of Education. "Berkeley can do this in a way that other institutions can't."

Organizers of the program said its establishment will help counter the coming wave of retiring school leaders.

"The reason we've established this program is because the very highest levels of state government have recognized the need to prepare leaders for all California school districts," Pearson said. "Just not enough people have decided to go into the programs to become leaders in this area (of education)."

Organizers said the use of CSU campuses in the program, which has been in the planning process for four years, will increase access by making it flexible and affordable for working educators and administrators.

"We are equal partners in this venture," said Elizabeth Reilly, academic coordinator of the program. "For about four years now, faculty have been meeting to discuss a principal leadership institute."

Although the program has not received official approval from school administrators in the respective graduate schools, a Bay Area businessman and philanthropist has already donated $7.5 million to establish the program.

While many UC Berkeley professors support the program, some question its feasibility.

"I think it's a great idea," said John Hurst, a professor at the Graduate School of Education. "But, when you get to the practicalities, it can get a little sticky."

Grubb said the varying levels of teaching ability might hinder the success of the program.

"Not everybody is competent to teach in this program," he said. "People who have had no experience at that level simply aren't appropriate to teach this."

Others said that the state budget cuts to UC and CSU could affect the allocation of funds to the program.

The joint doctorate program was proposed four years ago along with the Principal Leadership Institute by The Kenneth E. Behring Center for Educational Improvement at the Graduate School of Education.

The Principal Leadership Institute, which started in the summer of 2000, trains educators to become principals in public schools by offering the opportunity to earn masters degrees and teaching credentials.

The students of the institute receive scholarships to cover their education in return for a promise to work for four years as a leader in a public school.

"Our joint doctoral program will be a natural compliment to the Principal Leadership Program, which has already enjoyed huge success," Reilly said.


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