Uncle Roger's Notebooks of Daily Life

Introduction

My life is, to me, ripe with frequent challenges, occasional successes, spontaneous laughter, adequate tears, and enough *life* to last me a lifetime. To you, however, it surely seems most pedestrian. And therefore, I recycle the name I used previously and call this my Notebooks of Daily Life. Daily, because it's everyday in nature, ordinary. These conglomeration of events that are my life are of interest to me because I live it, perhaps mildly so to those who are touched by it, and could only be of perverse, morbid curiosity to anyone else. Yet, I offer them here nonetheless. Make of them what you will, and perhaps you can learn from my mistakes.


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Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Wanna be a Teacher? Forget About SF State!

Once upon a time, San Francisco State University was known for its excellent College of Education (CoE). In fact, my wife went to school there. She got her B.A., Teaching Credential, and even her Master's from State. But that was then. This is now. Now is no more.

One of the great programs that services the CoE as well as other colleges and departments is the Child Study Center. Just this spring, the University's news department featured a story about the Child Study Center and its purpose. The Child Study Center is a laboratory and training facility for early childhood teacher education, child observation, and research. Thirty-two children, aged 2-4, carefully screened for racial/ethnic and economic diversity, family willingness to participate, and child’s receptivity to observation are enrolled in the program and work with interns, researchers, and observers. Each year, the CSC serves as many as 1,500 undergraduate and graduate students from departments as varied as Child and Adolescent Development, Biology, Psychology, Consumer and Family Studies, Communicative Disorders, Counseling, Kinesiology, Elementary Education, Liberal Studies, Physical Therapy, Recreation and Leisure Studies, Social Work, Sociology, Special Education, and Speech and Communications. In addition, students from the UCSF School of Nursing take advantage of the CSC.

Sounds pretty good, eh? Apparently, the Edelman Institute thought so. In their April/May 2003 newsletter, they noted that "The Center's impact on student learning, teacher training and curriculum development has been immense." Wow. The same newsletter also reported that "the Child Study Center is actively working to increase the number of faculty and post-doctoral research projects conducted at the Center; expand offerings of workshops, seminars and trainings for early childhood educators and the community; provide expertise to day-care programs and serve as a model of early childhood classroom design; provide parenting workshops for the campus and the community; and develop collaborations with other child centers including Head Start, the AS Early Childhood Center and child study centers on other campuses." The Institute's 2002-2003 Year End Report (no longer available online) listed one of the Institute's accomplishments as a report documenting "the current academic use of the Child Study Center and the historic extent and nature of research emanating from the Center."

Given the importance of early childhood education in general and preschool in particular, the Child Study Center sounds pretty gosh-darn important. Cool, too. What with the "Preschool for All" already being implemented in San Francisco and on the ballot for the state, the CSC has become more important and valuable than ever.

Alas, alack, the University doesn't see it that way. At least, the PHB's at the Edelman Institute don't. They've decided to dump the CSC in favor of an all-day daycare facility, undoubtedly a far more profitable venture. More profitable in the short term and for them in particular. The CSC, of course, would reap greater profits in the long run and benefit the community as a whole, rather than a simple few. So a great program serving more than a dozen departments and thousands of university students, is being cancelled.

Let me repeat that -- after 36 years serving a significant percentage of the University, the Child Study Center is being sacked. Canned. Sent home. Pack up your things and get out.

A few short years ago, the Edelman Institute bragged that "The Child Study Center has produced a number of stellar community leaders who once served as interns. Among the list of graduates since 1997 are a large number of preschool and elementary teachers, school psychologists, a Head Start coordinator, grants managers, doctoral students, children's advocates and university professors." So now they're going to shut it down.

Okay, okay, you're thinking, it's a great program and a real shame to lose it, but maybe the university simply can't afford it? Sure, that's possible. Maybe. Know what it costs the university? $140k. Know what the current budget for the University is? Just shy of $250 million. That's more than three times the GDP of the Falkland Islands and larger than the GDP of more than a dozen other countries as well. But they can't come up with a measely $140K. That's a little over one-twentieth of one percent of the total budget. Yeah, I can see how that would break the bank.

Well, the long and the short of it is that if you want to be a teacher, forget about San Francisco State University. In fact, with an outlook like this, I would forget SFSU for just about anything, if you possibly can.

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