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Walk with me through this article from a newspaper in Alabama, the Montgomery Advertiser.

Although she earned her master’s degree in elementary education from Alabama State University in May and has applied for three teaching jobs, Alexis Stanton has been jobless since May. And it is not because of the economy or fewer teaching jobs being available because the state is under proration.

Stanton is one of the group of college graduates from ASU’s College of Education who can’t get certified to teach in her field because the state Department of Education won’t honor her master’s degree from ASU. [Okay. Something's wrong with the education degree at ASU.]

ASU President William Harris this week said that the university is closer to resolving all teacher certification issues surrounding more than 50 graduates of the College of Education. [Okay. Harris is the president of the university.]

But the college’s faculty senate is questioning the method the university is using to secure teaching certificates for those graduates through the state Department of Education. [So, two problems. The way the certificates were initially earned, and the way they're going to try to solve the problem.]

Harris said that the university has been working with 57 graduates of the College of Education whose master’s degrees are being viewed as in question by the state Department of Education. The 57 students earned master’s degrees under the College of Education’s Alternative “A” program, which allows students to apply for teaching certificates in their area of study through the Department of Education.

On Aug. 12, the university met with more than 100 students currently in the program to ask them to verify information in their student records and to meet with their advisers regarding work completed toward their master’s degrees in the program.

Evelyn Hodge, then interim dean of the College of Education [then interim dean. Okay, she was interim to start with, but she's not even interim anymore.], told about 100 students that the university was “negotiating” teacher certification for students in the program at the Aug. 12 meeting.

Two days later, on Aug. 14, Harris announced he would become Dean of the College of Education “to restore the College of Education to its stellar position as one of the leading producers of teachers in the nation.” [Whoa. Isn't he president of the university? So now he's president and dean of the college of education?]

Harris also announced that John Gooden, a professor in the College of Education’s Educational Leadership, Policy and Law doctoral program, would begin overseeing the day-to-day operations of the College of Education and report directly to him. Hodge, the former interim dean of education, was returned to her post as dean of University College effective immediately.

During an interview with the Advertiser, Harris said that 41 of those graduates whose degrees were in question have received their certification from the state. Sixteen others are in various stages of completing the certification process, including five students who have taken exams toward earning their certification, he said.

“The 16 cases are pending a decision from the state Board of Education,” he said. “We’re recommending those who meet the criteria for certification to the state Board of Education but some may require additional coursework.”

Harris said various reasons, including information not being provided by the university to the Department of Education, kept the 57 graduates from obtaining their teaching certificates when they should have met the state’s requirements. In most cases students do not have to pay out of pocket for the mistake, he said. [It would be awfully nice, this late in the story, to have some idea what the fuck's going on. This sounds like administrative incompetence on the part of the university. Since nothing more than their students' livelihoods depended on it, ASU didn't bother sending to the state crucial documentation. That sort of thing.]

“We have determined that if our advisement was at fault (for these graduates), we’d provide a no-cost remedy within reason for the students,” he said. [Advisement? As in you didn't advise the students that your administration didn't care whether their documents from the school were in order?]

Harris discussed details about the college’s teacher certification problems after ASU Faculty Senate Chairman Derryn E. Moten wrote in a Sept. 15 memo to the university’s board of trustees that faculty written exams were given to the graduates rather than actual coursework for them to obtain teacher certification from the state. [Oh! Why isn't this in the article's first paragraph? No need to bother taking courses! Just take this exam and we'll pass you through... Is that what happened? Rather than the administrative thing? I still don't get it.]

“Particularly troubling to the senate is that administrators asked faculty to do something we believe unethical,” wrote Moten, who is also an associate professor of humanities at ASU. [Or do we put these two things together... As in... When the university realized it had fucked up, by ... what?... not counting courses toward certification properly? It told faculty to hurry through some bogus written thing that would substitute for the courses? ... I still don't get it.]

Moten, who also spoke about his memo with the Advertiser, said that the Faculty Senate is charged with the responsibility of ensuring the academic integrity of the university and the academic interests of faculty members.

“We’re in the process of looking at the matter,” he said. “What we reported to the board is all that we know. What we have learned is from faculty members who were asked to write these exams. We have not heard anything definitive from the administration.”

In his Sept. 15 memo, Moten states that on Aug. 29 exams were administered on campus to approximately 50 Alternative “A” graduates who, the senate understands, faced termination from their jobs unless their certification was approved. [Right. So the A team was about to be fired from its teaching jobs, and ASU had to do something real quick.]

“The senate understands that these exams were for courses students took at ASU out of sequence or for courses that students had not taken at ASU or any other university but (that they) need in order to receive state certification,” Moten wrote his memo. [Okay. Getting a little clearer. The university failed to mention that students needed to take certain courses in a certain sequence to get their certification... Are you getting the picture? Way gross incompetence.]

Moten said that between Aug. 26 and Aug. 27 some deans and department chairs “compelled various faculty members to compose these exams” and “some faculty members refused.” [Getting a bit sickening here.]

“The upshot is that the university allegedly agreed to credit students for courses they had not taken at ASU or elsewhere,” Moten told the board in his memo. “Also disturbing is that the university saw this as a viable solution at the very time ASU is on probation by the NCAA for lack of institutional oversight and grade tampering.” [Getting comical here.]

Instead, Moten states in the memo that the university should have negotiated a deadline extension to allow students to receive course credit once they successfully completed a mini semester at ASU.

“Unfortunately, certain administrators are being dilatory in this matter,” Moten wrote. “However, numerous faculty members, including members on the faculty senate, corroborate the senate’s general understanding of what we believed happened.”

When asked about Moten’s Sept. 15 report to the board of trustees, Harris said he had not seen the document but found Moten’s statements concerning.

“What I’m concerned about is the veracity of this document,” he said. “I’m disputing the allegations that university has used unethical grading practices. The Advertiser is taking this on face value. It doesn’t represent the facts as I know them.”…

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6 Responses to “I don’t get it.”

  1. RJO Says:

    Between the lines, I read this as the key phrase:

    > “We have determined that if our advisement was at fault…

    It sounds to me as though the state’s certification system required some specific coursework (say, two math courses), but the university never told students those courses were required.

    It also sounds like the reporter may not have understood what was going on either.

  2. Crimson05er Says:

    Welcome back to Alabama, UD. Nothing here makes sense at first, and when it finally does, you wish you hadn’t figured it out.

    What to say? ASU’s course falsifying is a case indefensible but not uncommon for the state’s universities. Awful, though as Tom Lehrer put it best, "But what the hell, it’s home."

    http://www.casualhacker.net/tom.lehrer/revisited.html#dixie

  3. Timothy Burke Says:

    I read this three times and I still can’t really hazard a good guess about what’s really going on here. RJO’s probably right that it boils down to basic negligence on a single major issue, but what a bizarre, convoluted response if so.

  4. University Diaries » “I want us to move forward, but we can’t be run by three presidents, one in front and two behind.” Says:

    [...] It is incredible to her that this criminally inept institution is accredited. It should be shut down. [...]

  5. University Diaries » Pity and decency should long ago have moved the citizens of Alabama to shut down that grotesquerie… Says:

    […] ASU is a deadhead is known and documented; that it’s run by thieves is equally […]

  6. Mr Punch Says:

    What’s really amazing, I think, is that an institution that can’t get its master’s degrees accepted has doctoral programs.

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