September 25, 1998 Vol. III, No. 3

Chancellor Outlines Broad Agenda for Educational Change

Charles B. Reed Talks of K-12 Priority, Teacher Training, Year-round Universities and Remediation

In his first visit to Cal State Northridge, new CSU Chancellor Charles B. Reed spelled out a broad and challenging agenda for educational change, saying Cal State campuses have to make improving public schools a top priority along with making themselves more customer friendly.

During a series of campus and related appearances, Reed said improving the state's public K-12 schools is critical to the future and quality of the Cal State system, since many of those students ultimately will come here. "Improving the public schools of California I believe has to be our No. 1 priority," he said.

But at the same time, Reed said the CSU itself must change internally to keep pace. During the Sept. 17 visit, he advocated the CSU moving toward year-round instruction, more night, weekend and different length classes, reduced charges for summer classes and a reexamination of degree requirements.

In addition, he promised a new plan to address the CSU's technology needs that probably will include asking students to directly bear some of the costs, endorsed the trustees' policy aimed at curtailing the need for remedial education and backed a $9.2 billion education bond on the November state ballot.

During an open forum at the CSUN Performing Arts Center, Reed voiced his target for the CSU. "The California State University's mission is to provide an affordable, accessible, high quality education to its students and to prepare them for the workforce of the 21st century," he said.

In that career preparation context, the chancellor several times talked of the CSU in relation to the University of California, saying the state has room for two great universities. "The University of California can be the show horse. California State University can be the workhorse. And we need both."

After arriving from Florida last spring, Reed said he found the CSU system to be "a lot better than I had any idea." He added optimistically, "Your reputation lags about seven or eight years behind. The reputation hasn't caught up to the quality and the mission of the institution."

As for the Northridge campus, he praised CSUN President Blenda J. Wilson and others "for enabling this campus to rise up from the rubble and transforming it into the vibrant center of activity it is today." He added that CSUN "has undergone a true renaissance since the 1994 earthquake."

Not surprisingly given his priority on public schools, Reed spent much of the day talking about coming changes to CSU teacher preparation programs. He said he wants CSU teacher preparation to become year-round next year, and is aiming to offer a 4 to 412-year degree and teaching credential program.

The CSU has committed to increase its annual training of new teachers from about 12,000 now to 15,000 by mid-2000. The CSU system also is pursuing a new distance education program for teacher training, common program procedures among different CSUs and more support for new teachers.

Reed said year-round teacher training will be his first move toward a broader year-round focus in the CSU. He said his biggest surprise in coming to California was that the CSU was not already operating that way. And he said that is the CSU's only way to deal with Tidal Wave II enrollment increases.

"I didn't realize the universities in California don't operate on a year-round basis," Reed said. "You've spent billions to invest in these plants, but you only want to use them seven or eight months a year." He said of year-round operation, "This is a huge advantage we can take advantage of."

At the same time, Reed said he didn't anticipate hiring extra faculty members solely related to more year-round operations, night or summer classes. "What faculty will be doing is their business in a different way," he said, talking of a shift "from teaching to learning" and less reliance on lecturing.

The chancellor also spoke at length about remedial education. Within four years, Reed said he'd like to see the CSU mostly out of pre-collegiate education, with that responsibility transferred instead to community colleges, although he accepted a continuing CSU role for helping non-traditional students.

"All I know is we're supposed to do collegiate work, not pre-collegiate work," the chancellor said. Meanwhile, Reed said he's still evaluating what other CSU officials had said would be a new policy starting this year requiring new CSU students to complete any remedial work within one year.

-John Chandler

September 25, 1998

Return to the top of the page