One Less Headache: Solving the Dual Credit Instructor Dilemma

President of HEI

Dr. Mary Landon Darden is President of HEI, LLC. She served in education administration for 20 years and last served as a university center dean in San Antonio, TX. Darden is the author of a book co-published with the American Council on Education and Rowman and Littlefield titled Beyond 2020: Envisioning the Future of Universities in America.

A few years ago, when I was serving as a university center dean, we offered a small number of dual credit options to a private local high school.  We struggled to make this happen, mainly because of the difficulty in finding and scheduling instructors.  Our regular college classes were scheduled one night per week for anywhere from 5-10 weeks (5-10 total meetings).  In order to fit our college classes into the high school schedule, we had to build our classes in 40-50-minute segments, five days per week, for 15 weeks (75 total meetings).

There is a great and increasing demand for dual credit classes across the country. The problem, of course, is: How do you find a qualified instructor who is willing to drive to a high school to teach 75 class-meetings for one course for the same wage they receive from teaching 5-10 times (although each class is 3-4 hours)?  Simply calculating the average gasoline usage alone burned up the paycheck.  Needless to say, this was not an easy hurdle to overcome.

The only viable solution was to either find qualified instructors within the school (with a Master’s Degree and at least 18-graduate hours in the dual-credit subject area) or find someone with the same credentials who lived or worked close by the school and was willing to make that enormous commitment.  We ended up offering only a handful of classes during my five-years at the university.

One day, at a lunch meeting with one of the Vice Presidents of the Alamo College System (which has more than 60,000 students), I asked what the system’s greatest needs were.  She said that one of their extreme needs was to find a way to bring high-school teachers up to the qualifying masters level, where they could then teach dual credit. She said that finding a college that could flexibly and affordably meet this need would be a huge help for high schools and community colleges.

I eventually found a university that offered an online Masters of Education with the 18 graduate hours in the disciplines of English, Science, Social Studies, and Instructional Technology that cost less than $17,000 for the entire program (Which is much less than the national average and most people use federal financial aid to attend – find extensive information on college pricing and financial aid at trends.collegeboard.org and  www.FinAid.org).

Now, we are getting the word out.  If you need some help preparing more dual credit instructors for your college, give Wayland Baptist University a call at: 210-202-1104.  Or, you may visit  www.wbumed.org

Other universities are now becoming aware of this increasing need.  I believe, as do many other administrators in higher education, that colleges and universities should be more directly connected – and rapidly responsive to – the needs of businesses, communities, organizations and even global educational needs.  We need to make a habit of asking the important questions and finding ways to fill the many emerging needs.

How One Nonprofit is Helping Grads Launch Their Careers Through Helping Others

    Journalism professor

    Robert F. Darden is a Professor of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media at Baylor University. His most recent books, Nothing But Love In God's Water: Volumes 1 & 2, are available on Amazon.

    The New York Times featured an intriguing story on May 22, “Some College Advice from a Peer,” about a nonprofit organization, College Advising Corps (CAC), that places recent graduates in public high schools as full-time advisers.

    The need is certainly there – state and local budget cuts have decimated the ranks of college counselors. The CAC’s goal is to “break down the social, economic and psychological barriers that keep low-income rural students from having a shot at the elite range” of American universities.

    According to the article, by Anemona Hartocollis, most low-income kids rely on their parents for college advice, even though many of those parents don’t have a lot of experience themselves. As a result, lots of bright kids end up in “colleges that are less rigorous than they can handle.”

    Frankly, college is hard enough – working your way through the myriad forms for scholarships, medical releases, high transcripts, dual-credit approvals, admissions – that getting no advice is sometimes better than bad or inadequate advice. As a university professor, I see it all the time. Too often, students are relying on hearsay, the limited experiences of friends or family members, or (worse) something they read on the Internet. “Fake news” is not just something found in the political arena, believe me!

    CAC especially likes hiring graduates who “resemble” the students they’re hoping to help – black, Hispanic and/or from low-income backgrounds. The CAC salaries ain’t great, but there is some money dedicated to tuition loan reduction. And, by all accounts, the program is working.

    The trouble is, of course, it is a very small program – with about 600 advisers in as many schools, with about a third in rural areas. There are still hundreds of thousands of deserving students who will receive little or no college counseling across the U.S.

    In a perfect world, every potential college student would receive plenty of useable, up-to-the-minute advice. And because of the often dizzying class credit requirements at most universities, they would continue to receive high quality advising through their college careers.

    My own university, Baylor, has a large cadre of well-trained advisers. Baylor needs them, too. The school is expensive (as are most private universities) and has an uncommon number of credit hours required to graduate – with the low end being 124 hours. That means if a student makes a single mistake in scheduling, changes majors, or even makes an error in math, I could see them an extra semester or two. This isn’t a big deal for some kids. But for others, the ones the CAC is working with, an extra semester could be prohibitively expensive.

    That’s not to mention the fact that the average age of college students is rising, as more and more nontraditional students are entering college later and later. At some schools, seeing classes composed mostly of women in their late thirties with a child or two is the norm, not the exception.  These non-trad students come with their own sets of needs and advising issues.

    All of that to say, God bless the CAC, but double blessings on the thousands of over-worked high school counselors who are on the front lines of American education. They deal daily with crises of health, crises at home, the wildly divergent needs and expectations of schools from dozens of backgrounds, and wide, almost insurmountable gaps in income and expectations.

    You guys are the real heroes.

    Is There a Place for Feminism in the Classroom?

    President of HEI

    Dr. Mary Landon Darden is President of HEI, LLC. She served in education administration for 20 years and last served as a university center dean in San Antonio, TX. Darden is the author of a book co-published with the American Council on Education and Rowman and Littlefield titled Beyond 2020: Envisioning the Future of Universities in America.

    I picked this up from my sister in law when we were discussing how to talk about feminism in our college classrooms. Write the word the word “equality” on the board and ask the coed class I taught: “Who believes in this principle?” Almost without fail, 100% of my class of 15 students would raise their hands.

    Then, I would take a few steps to the side and write next the word “feminism” and asked: “How many of you believe in this principle?” I would often only have one or two hands go up.

    Looking for Dr. Right

    Board Members on What They Look for In a Superintendent

    By Charles Boyd (president of the Board of Trustees of Valley Mills ISD) and David Schleicher (a former president of the Waco ISD Board), both in their personal capacities.

    School districts can vary as much as the student populations that inhabit them and the towns that host them. There are nonetheless common elements to what many school boards look for in the superintendents that lead them. With one of us serving in a smaller rural district and the other having served in a mid-sized urban district, and both having taken part in superintendent searches, we collectively came up these five characteristics that we believe are central to the finding the right candidate.

    You don’t want to miss what’s coming Sunday. Really.

    President of HEI

    Dr. Mary Landon Darden is President of HEI, LLC. She served in education administration for 20 years and last served as a university center dean in San Antonio, TX. Darden is the author of a book co-published with the American Council on Education and Rowman and Littlefield titled Beyond 2020: Envisioning the Future of Universities in America.

    Greetings fellow educators and friends!

    As you may know, we are geared toward helping schools teachers and administrators and providing advice to you from experienced professionals in the education field.

    The Greatest Pain-Points Facing Texas Public Schools Today

    President of HEI

    Dr. Mary Landon Darden is President of HEI, LLC. She served in education administration for 20 years and last served as a university center dean in San Antonio, TX. Darden is the author of a book co-published with the American Council on Education and Rowman and Littlefield titled Beyond 2020: Envisioning the Future of Universities in America.

    It is clear that schools are experiencing increasing pain-points and are searching for ways to address these in an efficient and effective manner.  To increase awareness and insight into what various leaders in Texas public schools perceive as the greatest pain-points for their particular ISDs, I sent out a query to about a dozen contacts in various leadership positions

    This was a very small preliminary query using a convenience sample.  There were five responses, which were listed below. This is not a large enough sample to be comprehensive or conclusive, but it is interesting starting point for the conversation about the pain-points in public ISDs today.

    W.E.B. Du Bois’ advice to a young man

    And how it can live on in your classroom

      Journalism professor

      Robert F. Darden is a Professor of Journalism, Public Relations and New Media at Baylor University. His most recent books, Nothing But Love In God's Water: Volumes 1 & 2, are available on Amazon.

      My research into the roots of black sacred music as protest music repeatedly took me to the great African American writer, educator and leader, W.E.B. Du Bois.

      In his Autobiography, Du Boise closes with advice to his recently born great-grandson. Du Boise is 90 as he pens these words; his Autobiography was first published in the United States in 1968, five years after his death. It is remarkably appropriate for today, not just for May and June graduates, but for all of us: