UA Board of Regents begins process to eliminate UAA education department

The University of Alaska’s Board of Regents, as well as officials from UAA, listen to public testimony from students affected by UAA’s loss of accreditation for its education department.
The University of Alaska’s Board of Regents, as well as officials from the University of Alaska Anchorage, listen to public testimony from students affected by UAA’s loss of accreditation for its education department, Feb. 12, 2019. (Photo by Wesley Early/Alaska Public Media)

The University of Alaska Board of Regents took the first step in phasing out the education department on the Anchorage campus. The regents voted Monday to eliminate seven initial licensure programs.

The recommendation came from UA President Jim Johnsen, who wants to eliminate the Anchorage campus education department following its loss of national accreditation for some of its programs in January from the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation, or CAEP.

The seven initial licensure programs that lost accreditation are as follows:

  • B.A. Elementary Education
  • Elementary Education post-baccalaureate
  • M.A.T. Secondary Education
  • B.A. Early Childhood Education (pre-K to third grade)
  • Early Childhood post-baccalaureate (pre-K to third grade)
  • Special Education Graduate Certificate initial licensure
  • M.Ed. Early Childhood Special Education initial licensure

“I have recommended we not continue those programs, and that instead UAF and UAS, with continued coordination from the Alaska College of Education, provide their programs to students in Anchorage,” Johnsen said.

Both the University of Alaska Fairbanks and the University of Alaska Southeast have nationally-accredited education programs. Under Johnsen’s plan, education classes would be taught in-person and through online courses from UAF and UAS teachers.

The largest point of opposition to Johnsen’s plan came from Juneau-based Regent Dale Anderson. Anderson motioned to put off the vote until the board’s June meeting, in order to allow for more discussion. The motion failed by a vote of 4-6.

Anderson said that the process was done without collaboration between the board members on how to proceed. Anderson also accused Johnsen of consolidating most of the initial licensure program responsibility to the Fairbanks campus.

“Fairbanks has never accepted the fact that the school of education is in Juneau, and there’s uncostly bickering,” Anderson said. “And this turf war is totally wrong and needs to be stopped.”

Six of the seven programs would be moved to UAF’s education department. UAS currently houses the Alaska College of Education.

Board Chair John Davies of Fairbanks agreed that the process for what to do with UAA’s education department went by quickly, but he noted that the community requested an urgent response.

“One of the biggest concerns that we had, that we were hearing from the students, was that we weren’t acting fast enough,” Davies said. “And so that’s the reason why we’re having this meeting today and why we’re having it in this manner.”

In the end, the board voted 6-5 in favor of Johnsen’s recommendation, which would take effect Sept. 1 of this year. The next step of Johnsen’s recommendation is to eliminate the rest of UAA’s education department, effective July 2020.

The Alaska State Board of Education and Early Development requires that students graduate from a nationally-accredited education program to receive teaching licenses.

Alaska Public Media

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