Chapter 5: The Activist-Radical Impulse: The College for Human Services
The quarters of the College for Human Services are properly unprepossessing. As befits honest reformers, the place is frugal, a bit drab and hand-me-down. Most of its two hundred students are mothers who have been on welfare, although there has been a slight increase in the number of men who have come to the college in recent years. Better than 90 percent of the students are black, Spanish-American, or Polish-American. Two mornings a week they come out of a subway at Varick and Houston Streets in lower Manhattan and enter a sooty building. On the eleventh floor they turn down a hall lined with offices that have been converted to classrooms. Some rooms have bright rugs, but there are few luxuries. A library of several thousand volumes is at one end of the hall; nearby is a student lounge with a few chairs and tables, but the students do little lounging because the two days they spend at the college are filled with classes and conferences from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The other three days of the week they are employed as interns** in schools, hospitals, social work agencies, museums, and in a variety of other training positions that comprise what the college calls the human services.
When it opened in 1965 the college was called the Woman's Talent Corps, and no degree was given. By 1970, it had won accreditation from New York State and the power to grant the two-year associate in arts degree. At that time, it sought to establish career ladders for low-income black women beginning as paraprofessionals. The students' median age was 37, and most scored below ninth-grade level on tests of verbal and mathematical ability. But although it was successful in getting women off welfare and employed in paraprofessional positions, the college was forced to conclude that its hoped-for career ladders were largely illusory. These ladders had too many steps and bumped into very low ceilings. Yet, in fact, some "paraprofessional" graduates were hard to distinguish from the professionals with whom they worked--apart from the size of their paychecks.
*As this book goes to press the proportions have changed somewhat. In 1977, about 60 percent of the students were black, 25 percent Spanish-American, 12 percent Polish-American (most of them recent immigrants who originally worked in a Polish Slavic center in Brooklyn), and the remainder other whites and Orientals.
**Because "intern" fails to convey the change-oriented perspective of the college, CHS itself never uses the word.
The college increasingly took on an activist and change-oriented mission designed not just to find routes up for its graduates but to change both the pathways and the professions. Paradoxically, though it pursued this mission in its later stages in the context of developing a performance--or competence-based curriculum that it hoped would be the basis of major reforms in the "human service professions," its language of competence was not technical The curriculum was arranged as a series of "constructive actions," and each student was asked to "act as a change agent, planning, researching and promoting progress to improve human service deliver." Thus, though the college undertook the mission of consciously shaping the values of its students and of identifying them with a program of societal change, in some ways, as we shall see, the aims of the founders asked too much of students who, in many cases, simply wanted a decent job at decent pay.
Although the College of Human Services stands in this volume as an illustration of what we have identified in our typology as the activist-radical reform movement, it will become clear that this is but one of the many strands of reform the college has planned and encouraged. The other strands include devising new roles for faculty, granting access to the most deprived groups of students, and seeking to reform some professions by making assessment depend on the judgment of the client as much as that of fellow professionals.
The college was created by Audrey Cohen, a determined visionary and radical woman. She is shrewd, tough--although suave where necessary--and a fighter. She still bristles at the mention of a 1969 New Republic article by Joseph Featherstone that described the Talent Corps (as it was then called) as a college that "was started by a handful of reformist middle-class ladies with the idea of training poor women for jobs as assistants to professionals."' As an egalitarian, she resented being identified with the upper-middle class, yet she lives off Park Avenue, sends her daughters to the Chapin School, and earns a college president's salary. Though she is reminiscent of the settlement-house reformers of the nineteenth century and their notion of noblesse oblige, Audrey Cohen has more ambitious aims involving the reform of the professions and of higher education. Yet the parallel is not altogether unfair. In her emphasis on service and practical competence and her criticism of traditional universities, she has much in common with Jane Addams and Lillian Wald.
Audrey Cohen was born in Pittsburgh and graduated in 1953 from the University of Pittsburgh with a degree in political science. She taught high school for three years, was active in the civil-rights movement in Washington, D.C., and pursued graduate studies at George Washington University. It was in Washington in 1958 that she founded Part-Time Research Associates, utilizing the talents of married women to do research tasks for a variety of clients. She employed more than two hundred women, and the experience proved to be an early illustration that performance does not necessarily correlate with credentials. When her husband changed jobs, she moved to New York, and in 1964 founded the Women's Talent Corps, turning her energies away from the employment of suburban housewives to the placement of black women in burgeoning federal programs.
The Women's Talent Corps received a grant from the Federal Office of Economic Opportunity in 1966 not only to train these women but to create permanent jobs for them in the human-service sector. At that time, the college did not talk so much about transforming the professions as it did about reducing the antagonism between professionals and the poor neighborhoods they were supposed to serve, although the seeds of its later emphasis on the primary role of social change could be read even in its early history.2 Of the 120 women accepted for the initial program, 113 completed a thirty-week training cycle and were subsequently employed.*
*Even if one looks at CHS only as a job training program for welfare recipients, its achievement is extraordinary. During the period 1967-72, two-thirds of the students were on welfare when they enrolled, and their median income was $3,120. About 80 percent completed the first-year program, and 92 percent of these were offered permanent employment. In 1972, the average salary of graduates was about $7,000. Completion rates over a two-year period are not as high, since first-year graduates who are offered jobs often cannot afford to return for a second year. In early 1977, with the prospects for the college's authorization to award the bachelor's or master's degree not encouraging, there are reports of greatly increased attrition rates. For detailed information, see Sylvia Hack, "A Statistical Report on the College for Human Services, 1967-72," June 1973, p. 27.
The college was especially proud that it had established a foothold for "new careers" in several agencies. In the schools, the title "educational assistant" was created to denote pedagogical responsibilities in contrast with jobs for non-teaching community aides. At the time, the college was convinced it had achieved a breakthrough in helping to create new positions such as case aide, lay therapist, and community liaison assistant, and felt these would be first rungs on a ladder, not dead-end, nose-wiping jobs.
The core faculty were described in a 1968 report as "hardheaded do-gooders"--women who had had enough experience with incompetence among professionals as volunteers and mothers not to be awed by credentials or jargon. Most of the twenty faculty were white, perhaps one-third were Jewish. There were two blacks and one Puerto Rican among them, including the vice-president, Laura Pires Houston, a Cape Verdean who had graduated from Smith College and earned an M.A. in social work at Columbia. Laura Houston played a critical role in CHS's early development and continued in a consultant capacity to advise the college in important ways when she later returned to Columbia to complete her doctorate. Most of the white women had backgrounds in education or social work (only three had degrees in the field), and there were two lawyers and a few former journalists among them. Several were married to ministers or had studied theology. There were no men in the major administrative posts, and when we visited CHS in 1970 we observed that lines of authority seemed more loose and relaxed than would be typical of most male-dominated organizations.
Doris Younger, who became chairman of the faculty, graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and the Yale Divinity School (where she met her husband, a Baptist minister) and trained women as school reading aides before joining the college. The co-directors of field training were known as the two Barbara's: Barbara McHam had gone on to do graduate work in educational psychology after Bennington, and had worked as an admissions counselor at Friends Seminary and as a counselor at the Women's House of Detention. Barbara Buchanan earned her first degree at Wells, did graduate work at Union Theological and Teachers College, and had worked with her husband, an Episcopal minister, who served in two New York City parishes. Janith Jordan, academic director, had taught in a Detroit high school after finishing a master's in education at Michigan State.
Several of this first generation of faculty eventually went on to help launch other experiments. Barbara Buchanan joined the new College of Public and Community Services at the University of Massachusetts in Boston. William Statsky, who headed the college's early legal-assistant program, to be described more fully later, became a member of the founding faculty of the Antioch School of Law.
One of the first males to assume an administrative post was Kalu Kalu, a Biafran who had studied economics at Yale and Berkeley. Stephen Sunderland came from City University in 1972 as dean of research and planning, assuming most of Laura Houston's responsibilities. Sunderland had studied political science at Indiana after Hunter College, and earned his doctorate in organizational behavior at Case Western Reserve, where he also taught briefly. Earlier, he had been director of the higher-education program for the National Training Labs and headed the student academic-freedom project at the National Student Association. Among other later arrivals who became part of the core faculty was Roy Okada, a Hawaiian who earned a doctorate in English at the University of Wisconsin and who is now director of education. Ruth Messinger, a Radcliffe graduate, studied social work at Columbia and helped run an experimental school on the Upper West Side. Tom Webber, a former Peace Corps volunteer whose father was a minister in the East Harlem Protestant Parish, had graduated from Harvard, worked in a storefront tutoring program in the Bronx, and entered a doctoral program at Teacher's College designed to produce change agents. Adele Brody graduated from St. John's University Law School in the 1940s, married, practiced conventional law, then took a job with the Urban League in the late 1960s. Later, influenced by Frank Riessman, she became interested in the new careers movement, which eventually led her to the college. Pearl Daniels is a black woman who came to the college as a student in her mid-thirties, having dropped out of Textile High years earlier. She became an outstanding student at CHS and is now director of admissions and counseling.
In those first years, the college also laid the foundation for a new faculty role, "coordinating teachers" who divided their time to include supervising students on the job and, more importantly, acting as advocates for students in establishing career ladders. A student assigned to a legal-services office, for example, might begin with responsibilities no weightier than filing or answering the telephone. As the student learns more in class and on the job, the faculty member negotiates increased responsibilities, such as legal research or initial client interviews. Eventually, in successful cases, the student should receive pay and a redefinition of job. Coordinating teachers also sought to identify potential "teachers" as supervisors for the students at the agencies where they worked. The college expected the agency to help teach and make the job a learning experience.
Since the students are supported by federal training grants (now under CETA funds3 through the City of New York), the college gains leverage with the agency by making students available as "free" labor. In the second year of training, the agency assumes half the cost. Of course, though the college was founded in the days of Lindsay optimism, it is now operating in an era of Beame budgets. Yet CHS believes that the need for preparing "human service workers" continues to be acute, projecting a demand for millions of additional jobs in order to provide adequate education, health care, and recreational services.4
The college added a second year to its training program in 1967. In 1968, it applied for a college charter with authority to grant the degree of Associate in Arts. The Department of Higher Education of the State Department of Education rejected the application on the grounds that most of its students had not graduated from high school, its faculty did not possess advanced degrees nor sufficient college teaching experience, and it did not have an adequate library or endowment. The reviewing officers praised the "social effectiveness of this dedicated and imaginative group of women," but concluded that the Talent Corps lacked the essential characteristics of a degree-granting institution.
Although such a decision is usually regarded as final, Audrey Co hen chose to ignore the door that had been shut in her face. Noting that technically the decision was not binding on the final authority, the Board of Regents, she began a campaign for approval at that level. She asked for a review of the college's program by Alvin Eurich's Academy for Educational Development, which subsequently recommended its approval as a degree-granting institution. She also hired a lawyer to contest the endowment requirement. Some concessions were made to demands for specialist faculty within the college's interdisciplinary structure. Not least, the college initiated a broad campaign to generate political and educational support.
On the matter of admissions standards, the college argued that job performance did not correlate with previous credentials and that students should be admitted without regard to previous formal education if they could pass basic reading and math tests. In response to criticism that the college did not adequately evaluate student performance, the Educational Testing Service was asked to advise whether tests had been developed that could be adapted to the college's program. When the ETS experts could furnish none, the college cited this as evidence of the need for CHS to develop new measures of student performance.
Internally, however, some faculty and students opposed seeking degree status, fearing that bending to bureaucratic requirements would mean sacrificing freedom to experiment. Yet other students were equally strong in their desire to obtain the "piece of paper" that opened doors in a diploma-conscious society. When it was suggested that the charter campaign would be an ideal project for the final unit of the first-year curriculum on social change, faculty members took sides. Some argued that the best way to learn about social change was to participate in an effort to win college status for themselves. Others opposed the campaign on the grounds that it upset curriculum plans and coerced students. In the end a compromise was reached in which students could choose among several action projects. Many participated in the charter effort, organizing letter-writing campaigns, seeking support for the college in agencies where they worked, collecting petitions, and so forth. In May 1970, the Board of Regents provisionally approved a college charter for a period of five years.
Although buoyed by the successful charter campaign, satisfaction was blunted by the increasing realization that the college's early enthusiasm about establishing new routes to professional careers was naive. Mounting evidence showed that many of their students were held to terminal paraprofessional positions or assigned "aide" jobs normally filled by non high-school graduates. Administrators in some state hospitals originally favored creating new paraprofessional positions in recreational therapy but could not get these approved by the head of the Department of Mental Hygiene or by the Civil Service. At the end of two years' training, graduates were hired as ward attendants, a position for which not even a high-school diploma was required, and which had little to do with the positions for which students were trained. New York City schools agreed to a six-step ladder for educational assistants, but relatively few such positions were approved, and few city schools offered possibilities for graduates to climb more than one or two rungs on this ladder. The college concluded that "the gains apparently won last year through negotiation with the Board of Education have to a considerable extent proved illusory."5 The city's Housing and Development agency "set a model career ladder on paper, but when it came to two years study and likelihood of an AA degree, Talent Corps graduates not fit into the ladders . . ."6
The right to award the A.A. degree, granted by the Regents in 1970, would help some graduates overcome hurdles to advancement the job. But a parallel change in consciousness about the nature the training the college wanted to give was also occurring. Less emphasis was put on the concept of training paraprofessionals as helpers, who could move upward in traditional channels and more was given to the idea that the helping professions themselves needed or reform to emphasize "humane service." When the college opened, it sought to produce students who would "lighten the workload and increase the effectiveness of the professional to whom they re assigned as an assistant."7 A year later, the college emphasized "belief of the Talent Corps that the para-professional, under supervision, is capable of performing a wide variety of tasks, many which are professional in nature."8
The college increasingly emphasized that it "seeks to be both a teaching institution and an action institution . . . to stimulate its dents to bring about institutional change without depriving them of opportunity for a job." The College for Human Services would old its "primary mission" of promoting integration and "opening the system" to minorities, and it would be
. . equally concerned with changing human service institutions o that they become more responsive to human needs. The more the College works in this area, the clearer it becomes that the shortcomings of the present system affect the public at large, and hat basic changes are needed in the way service is delivered to everyone. . . . To this end, it will seek to create a new kind of credential, a two-year professional degree based on a definition which emphasizes humane performance rather than simply academic knowledge.9
The college recognized the burdens it placed on students in setting forth the model of "the participation of workers as agents of change the work they perform--in its design, delivery and control." It s a model that some students rejected. In an interview in 1972, a student let down her hair: "A lot of this change stuff is a lot of crap. You just go out there and try to change them [the bureaucracies] and you'll be changing yourself right out of a job." As we have seen, the college was usually two or three strides ahead of some students, who simply wanted a good, paying job with a title. While some were willing to try to make some leaps forward, others were fearful. On a visit with student interns at St. Luke's Hospital, we found that one had withdrawn after the first year because the demands of the college were so great. A second-year student described her difficulty in making even small changes, such as addressing a patient "Senora" Lopez when other staff called out, "Lopez, Mary." Yet she had also helped to establish a career ladder by which paraprofessionals could move from clerical to minor administrative positions. The hospital supervisor compared CHS students favorably to other paraprofessionals: he felt they were more eager to learn, more open to criticism, and less inhibited in talking to doctors and other professional staff about the problems of patients.
The new emphasis that Audrey Cohen was putting on reforming the professions in the context of seeking authority for a full professional certificate (and eventually a master's degree) created major tensions in the college. When CHS added a second year to its original thirty-week program, it hired more black and Spanish-speaking male faculty, some of whom opposed the move to a new credential, believing the college should concentrate on the more limited goal of "opening the system" to minorities. Students petitioned for three days of classes, saying two days were insufficient to improve their deficiencies in English and math.10 Members of the Student Council accused Audrey Cohen of being a politician who had duped outside agencies into thinking she was an innovative educator. "We do not want the College for Human Services to grant us a master's degree in two years when many of us feel we need remedial work," the students wrote. "We feel Mrs. Cohen has hit upon a great idea . . . that new routes in education should be carved out and performance should be as important as academic achievement. But she has made a joke of her own ideas. Our training is shabby, our academic classes are poor and once again we feel we have been taken advantage of.""
When Audrey Cohen fired the black director of the second-year program in 1972, charges of racism were raised, a boycott ensued, and some faculty resigned, as did the black chairman of the board of trustees, Preston Wilcox (though he was not entirely in sympathy with the faculty, whom he described as being of "questionable talent").12 Audrey Cohen's resignation was demanded, and the faculty strike committee (which by no means represented all minority faculty) urged her replacement by a black or Puerto Rican president. Unlike many white liberals who caved in under such demands, Audrey Cohen replied by answering their specific charges, pointed out the acceptance of the college's program by many agencies, and hired a lawyer to defend her in the grievance hearings that were being pursued by the dismissed director. When she was upheld, she then proceeded to fire more than a dozen members of the faculty. She pointedly informed dissident faculty that the demand for her resignation had been based on considerations of color, not performance." We cannot recount here the details of the two strikes that occurred during this two-year period, but their results were significant. The college began to pay more attention to basic skill training and to more seriously pursue a master's degree program. While continuing to recruit poor minority students, it also set out to raise the entrance requirements. Although a diploma was not required, students increasingly had the equivalent of a high-school education and some had a year or more in community colleges. Starting salaries for new faculty rose from $8,500 to $13,500.
The new emphasis on basic skills was also influenced by the college's experience with the Legal Service Assistant program (LSA), which was a joint venture with Columbia University Law School. The LSA was one of the most carefully investigated programs undertaken by the college. Students in the legal-aid program spent one-third of their time in the interdisciplinary core curriculum at the college, one-third in courses in legal skills and analysis at Columbia, with special emphasis on so-called poverty law (welfare family law, landlord-tenant actions), and one-third on the job as practicing legal aides.14 In the report or study made of this program, Columbia was critical of the college's general-education program and noted that students' main problem on the job was related to their limited facility in written English. Yet the report also noted that there was little correlation between grades earned and student job performance, an observation that pleased the college.
Classes were initially held one day a week at Columbia University, and lectures and research assignments were given. But students varied greatly in their ability to do the academic work, and heavy job demands led to erratic attendance and failure to complete assignments. The coordinator arranged to have the class at the college in the second year and also met small groups of students in the neighborhood law offices. Of the twenty-three students initially accepted in the program, eighteen completed the first year, of whom sixteen were offered jobs; eleven of these continued to hold their jobs for the second year, of whom nine received special merit increases in the offices where they worked.15
A second study made by Statsky, then a member of the CHS faculty, revealed three broad levels on which the legal aides were working: six of the sixteen hired for the second year earned considerable independence, frequently handling routine cases to the point of courtroom appearances, when an attorney took over. Five performed limited legal tasks under close supervision, and five others worked as clerical aides and messengers (one operated a switchboard). Statsky's report also noted that poor work habits and "an unsatisfactory concept of time" constituted a major problem for five of the sixteen aides and a minor problem for four others.16
Statsky's study showed that some minority students with only grade-school skills at entrance could rise in two years of an intensive program to perform "professional" roles. On the other hand, it revealed the inherent difficulties of overcoming basic skill deficiencies and patterns of lateness and frequent absences, and of designing an academic program to fit such a diverse group. Only about one of every four students reached a "professional" level (i.e., six of the twenty-three who began the program). Further questions emerged: should the college give a professional school a veto over its program? If it refused to operate joint programs, where could it obtain specialized training?
The college decided to terminate the Legal Service program and to put its effort into developing new performance standards for a generic professional of human service. In effect, it ruled out the more specialized professions such as law or medicine and concentrated on social work, guidance and counseling, education, and other areas where there is no clearly defined or highly structured knowledge base underlying practice.
In a typically prescient essay,17 Nathan Glazer has noted that the schools that train social workers, teachers, city planners, or ministers have been dubbed "professional schools" by courtesy, since they do not rest on the same base of special or technical knowledge as the classic professions of law and medicine. These schools have courted status by replacing practitioners with scholars and researchers. Schools of education train teachers, but they are increasingly staffed by psychologists, sociologists, historians, philosophers, and relatively few master teachers or practitioners. Sociologists and psychologists may be more interested in their specialties than in the quality of service practitioners deliver.
The most useful training for the "minor professions" of education and social work takes place on the job, although both have clear and important links to the academic disciplines. The problem the College for Human Services confronted was how to shape a curriculum that would draw on the disciplines in a way that would permit performance--or competence-based evaluation on the job. The college believed from the beginning that "all work with people involves basic similarities and depends on a common store of concepts and techniques."18
But if professional standing in the minor professions was not tied to specialized knowledge in the traditional sense, what, then, was the basis for judging the competence of the humane professional? For the next several years, the college attempted to answer the question stated most cogently by Laura Houston: "What does 'professional' really mean in terms of service, of results?"19
The traditional professions answer that (a) initial entry is controlled by certification through professional schools, and (b) only other professionals who possess the specialized knowledge and the privileged access to information about clients can judge the competence of practitioners. The College for Human Services and other critics of the professions have argued that certification procedures in professional schools are inadequate because they rely on grades and formal requirements though research studies have shown that (except perhaps in the field of engineering research) grades rarely relate to occupational success .20 Initial entry, they claim, has sometimes been unfairly restricted to protect a profit monopoly as much as to protect standards. They argue that lax supervision of some self-interested professionals has resulted in inadequate protection for clients as well as increased isolation from standards of humane service. But in some aspects, the college's idea of the professional as client advocate is in direct conflict with the traditional ethic, which prohibits professionals from urging clients to embark on a particular course of action or to make what might be unnecessary purchases of services. It is clear that this attempt to be "objective" and "noncommercial" may be read by disadvantaged clients as coldness or indifference. Thus the defense attorney who puts on a fist-pounding show in the courtroom may lose the case, incurring the wrath of both and professional peers, but nonetheless be admired by the student, who believes he put up a good fight. (Such a lawyer, however, would fail the performance test if he lost most of his cases!)21
The college has attempted to devise an assessment system that includes clients as well as professionals, faculty, and student peers. In the fall of 1971, after the decision had been made to pursue a professional certificate, the faculty organized itself into five committees: education, day care, drug therapy, social work, and health professions. Each of these committees included some persons from the agencies where students had been placed. Each group attempted to define a standard of professional competence in that field, drawn from their own experience in supervision and observation, on the basis of job descriptions, association statements, licensing requirements, and performance.
When we visited the college again in the spring of 1972, the faculty expressed frustration that they were not getting at generic "competencies." At a meeting of the top college staff Audrey Cohen asked for advice, and Grant suggested that the college curriculum could be the means of developing their understanding of the competencies they sought to define. Students and faculty could together interview and observe professionals at work. They could evolve methods for distinguishing between "humane" and not so "humane" performance, for example. After several days of joint observation, students and faculty might independently record their impressions of how models for each profession might be characterized. Such an exercise might be a first step toward developing a vocabulary to describe professional competence, values, and skills. In the process, students could learn the skills of interviewing, observation, note-taking, and so forth. Yet Grant realized he was suggesting something closer to a doctoral research program than to first-level professional training. Audrey Cohen called in the research director to hear this scheme, and the group immediately began to discuss whether and how it might be practicable to move forward in this fashion.*
In its effort to define the professional competence of "humane" human service workers, the college turned in 1973 to empirical research. In 1973, David McClelland, the Harvard social psychologist, and his private research firm, the McBer Company, were retained as research consultants. McClelland had recently published an article, "Testing for Competence Rather than for Intelligence," which appealed to the college in part because it argued that generic subsets of personal attributes that underlie competence could be defined .22 The study done for CHS by the McBer Company was an important step toward building a new competence-based curriculum. Their research did not involve direct observation but relied on analysis of critical incidents or events described by exemplary human service workers. Sixty-two such workers were selected by the college on the basis of its own observations in various agencies. While not imputing any "superior knowledge of professional performance" to the college, McBer argued that the "college alone can define its mission" and that it was appropriate for them to define it in terms of producing practitioners resembling the sixty-two regarded as exemplary by the college.
The results of the research are interesting, although one can doubt whether the process really defines competencies of human service workers. Each of the sixty-two human service workers selected by the college was asked to describe the job during the previous years. The instructions required them to write page-long accounts of ten critical incidents or "samples of your life and work."
The incidents cited as successes seem typical of what many professionals would regard as good practice: a teacher devised a contract with a third grade boy to get him to stop practicing Kung Fu in class; a worker reduced tension levels in an interracial teen center; a subordinate initiated dinner with an "impossible boss," clearing the air and creating a good relationship. defeat.
*While this suggestion was not pursued in this form, as becomes clear in the text, it is worth citing to demonstrate how quickly any idea from any source was examined and plucked for whatever yield it might have. The incident also illustrates how the line between observer and observed, rarely unbroken in any research, was frequently crossed at the college. In fact, a researcher who refused to interact beyond minimal professional courtesies would not be tolerated at the College for Human Services.
Finally, the incidents were analyzed from the point of view of "competencies" unique to human services work. These were competencies aggregated as a result of "the intuitions of creative readers of the incidents." Thus, for example, the "competence" of "persisting in spite of discouragement and roadblocks" was the outcome of an aggregate of the following events cited in the critical incidents:
... insisting on payments to a family with five children whose benefits were cut off because their father had died; staying with a suicidal person; reacting to direct and public criticism from immediate superior; overcoming the board's unwillingness to invest in a program for the foreign born; recognizing the gradualism inherent in changing a system by very sustained and patient effort; working in an impossible multi-agency system to help an intolerable and overwhelming family situation in housing; facing overwhelming defeat.
As a result of this analysis, David McClelland derived the following seven competencies:
1. Strong faith that human needs can and must be met:
a. That every client can change and grow
b. That attitude change is possible and it itself is worthwhile
c. That you can get the system to adjust to the needs of the individual at least some of the time
2. Ability to identify correctly the human problem:
a. By being a good listener and observer
b. By being able to get other people to talk openly and freely
3. Ability to arrive at realistic, achievable goals in collaboration with clients
4. Imaginativeness in thinking of solutions to problems
a. Through use of own human relations skills
b. Through knowledge of resources and regulations
5. Persistence in pursuing solutions, often against hostile authorities
6. Ability to remain task-oriented under stress, hostility
7. Skills in getting interested parties to work together to arrive at common goals.23
Though many questions may be raised about the validity of the McBer Company's methods and the value of the findings, and though the report was never adopted as such, it became the basis of continued discussion among the faculty and was an important step toward the college's goal of basing its program on new definitions of competence and on new professional models.
When the faculty met in the spring of 1974 to work on the concrete details of the new curriculum for the class that would enter in the summer, the fruits of the long months of searching for new definitions and new directions finally began to be realized. After weeks of work, a light dawned.*
*This feeling of exhilaration is characteristic of groups involved in developing so-called competence-based programs. It seems to happen at the moment of producing a "grid" of some sort-in this case a performance grid. There no doubt is genuine insight and achievement as well as a feeling of relief that a consensus has been reached. Such typologies, however, often strike the outsider as too pat and too full of jargon.
Two years later, faculty still speak of the euphoria of the "breakthrough." In retrospect, as in most quite complex matters, it seems simple. The group were talking about two different kinds of competencies. On the one hand, students were asked to do something: "to design and implement a learning-helping environment" or "to conduct human service research." On the other hand they were concerned with aspects of performances: consciousness of one's own values, or understanding the larger system within which an action was embedded. Thus the competencies were a statement of actions or functions, as well as of values or dimensions. Both aspects-the accomplishment itself as well as an awareness of its value-constituted a professional performance. In a sense, the curriculum was as old as the sixteenth-century Jesuit ideal, actione contemplativus, acting with purpose and contemplative awareness. Like the Jesuits, the College also emphasized the need to judge human action in its fullness:
It is clear that the dimensions can only serve their purpose as a guide to learning and assessment if they encompass every significant aspect of performance. Any breakdown of performance into its supposed elements is, of course, artificial. Knowledge, skills, attitudes, the components into which learning is most commonly analyzed, are totally inappropriate for performance-based education because they disregard the active interplay of insight, experience, judgment, purpose, etc., that comprises a living performance. Instead of dealing in such rigid categories, the College has tried to develop the dimensions as a filter which makes it possible to focus on the various aspects of performance without forgetting their relationship to the whole .24
This "whole" to be assessed by the college was called a "constructive action." The curriculum as the student would encounter it subsumes his learning and experience into a series of constructive actions demonstrating different facets of competence. The performance grid summarizing this development, which has remained the basic Bible of the new curriculum, is shown in Appendix 4. Appendix 5 details sample facets of the curriculum related to the first four competencies.
A "grid," no matter how neat it is or how much euphoria it induces in the faculty, is not sufficient to establish a new profession, however. Now several steps were taken. The first was to use the new curriculum to seek authority from New York State to grant a degree certifying its students as Masters of Human Services. A profession also needs wider recognition from funding sources, policymaking groups, educational institutions, and other professions. In June 1974, at a conference at Columbia University, the college brought together a broad potential support group and made a simple announcement of a new profession of the human services.
There were about 60 guests at the conference, including government and foundation officials, representatives from agencies where CHS students worked, a sprinkling of representatives from academic institutions, a few feminists, representatives from the teachers union and the Public Education Association. A number of social-work professionals were also present, including a member of the Council of Social Work, a traditional New York agency concerned about maintaining high standards.
Once the guests (including Grant) had settled into their chairs, Audrey Cohen explained that they were going to play the "change game." A ten-page document explained the game, which was based on the following premise:
A new profession is being created to deal with the massive service delivery problems evidenced in schools, hospitals, counseling centers, prisons, and other agencies that presently deliver services to people. The new profession is predicated on a new standard of service delivery, new accountability to the clients, and new approach to the education of professionals.25
Each person was assigned to a small group with a role to play answering possible objections from clients, traditional professionals, union officials, potential employers, or students in this new college. The catch was that the participants were not allowed to agree with criticisms but were told to think of positive responses to them. It was their task to "champion the new profession and to find the specific ways and means to make its acceptance a reality." Prior to the conference, the college faculty played the role of devil's advocate, listing all the objections each of these groups might have to the college or the new profession. The difficulty was not in finding the objections but in countering them. The "game" itself was a bold and ingenious stroke, a "constructive action" on the part of the college that maximized helpful responses and minimized the possibility of the conference turning into a "stop-the-college" event. A few participants resented what they regarded as manipulation and said so. But most joined the game, amused if not convinced.
In a group on the students' perspective, a black woman alumnus of the college now teaching children better dental care said one of the best arguments for the college was that it gave students like her a second chance when no other institution would. Thomas Corcoran, an officer of the Fund for the Improvement of Postsecondary Education, said that although the college's rhetoric was not far different from what other colleges promised, its faculty provided more supervision and advocacy on the job. Others pointed out that while students took a risk, since the college was not authorized to grant a master's degree, it had compiled a good record in placing students, and had made good on its advocacy claims by securing paychecks for students in training.
The college moderator was not entirely successful in keeping the members of the group from joining the critics. A New York school principal wondered whether the college wasn't authorizing a new bureaucracy in the guise of attacking the old. He disagreed with those who argued that the college's two-year degree would "give it an edge on the market," because he doubted it would gain acceptance against five-year master's candidates in the keen competition for jobs among students in education and the social services today.
Harold Lewis, dean of social work at Hunter College, said the college might be able to build on the "street experiences" of its students in an intense two-year program. But he did not know of another master's program in the country that would accept students who did not have a B.A. He also asserted that there were no valid measures to assess the competencies the college was talking about. During the remainder of the day, the college heard expressions of support from many participants, but was warned that strong opposition would come from groups that had established the standard of a five-year master's. At the close of the conference, Lewis spoke for the Council of Social Work, saying that it was opposed to the formation of this new profession until the college specified with more rigor and more detail what it was they were really doing that was any different.
Such opposition was not unexpected, and following the conference the college did what it asks its students to do: it attempted to work around and minimize the effects of "negative field forces," while maximizing the positive elements for change. The most prestigious supporters at the conference were asked to form a task force to establish the new profession and win wider recognition of it. Others were politely ignored.
In August 1974, the college explained its new curriculum and the research on which it was based in a two-volume proposal seeking the authority to grant the master's degree. The proposal 26 highlighted three fundamental propositions the program had been designed to test:
1. That disadvantaged persons may be exceptionally qualified to serve others with intelligence, purpose and humanity.
2. That a performance-based program can prepare professionals in two rather than the usual five or six years.
3. That a new profession, human services, can serve clients better by responding to needs rather than within boundaries defined by traditional professions.*
*In language characteristic of the reformer's zeal, the proposal states: "in other words it is now possible to establish a new profession of Human Services which brings together every aspect of direct service to the individual" (p. 5). CHS's hopes would indeed be dystopian (and possibly dangerous for the clients themselves) if the college turned out all-purpose human-service activists who failed to realize the legitimacy of other, more traditional "helping" professionals.
A year later, the New York State Department of Education rejected the college's application, principally on the grounds that it could not authorize a master's degree that was not built upon a bachelor's program.27
This time, the college responded in some of the same ways as it had in 1968, seeking other avenues of support and trying to demonstrate that its students would have the equivalent of a bachelor's degree. But it also tried another tactic. Since the model could not be sold in New York, why not export it? Audrey Cohen obtained a grant to disseminate the college's model and began consulting at several colleges in California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania. Lincoln University expressed considerable interest. In 1976, its faculty, with the support of Jerome Ziegler, then Commissioner of Higher Education in Pennsylvania, approved a program that was based on the CHS model, although its exit requirements included a core academic program as well as standardized tests. In 1977, CHS won a temporary license to confer the master's degree at a branch it established in Florida. The college has since resubmitted its application for degree-granting authority in New York.
In the summer of 1975, we attended an admission session conducted by the college counselor and admissions director. One of the early arrivals was Jose Morales, who had been born in Puerto Rico and had made heels in a New York shoe factory for 23 years. In March, when the factory closed, his children urged him to return to school despite his age of 41, and a friend who worked with his wife as a teacher's aide had told him about the College for Human Services. Like the other seven applicants who arrived for a group interview that morning, he had survived an earlier screening. Nervousness showed in the strained conversation among strangers-in this particular session six Polish-speaking applicants and one black participated along with Morales.* Half were women. After waiting fifteen minutes past the appointment hour, the door was locked to later arrivals.
*This session was atypical in its ethnic representation; it happened to come at a point when the college was recruiting students for placements in the Polish-Slavic center in Brooklyn. But similar sessions are held for all applicAnts. Student names are disguised in these accounts; faculty identities have not been except in those cases where confidentiality was requested.
Jan Powell, a college counselor, and Pearl Daniels, the admissions director, explained the history of the college, noting that CHS now had no power to grant the master's degree and that the agencies in which students would be placed were not legally bound to hire them. Thus the students could finish the program without either a degree or a job. Pearl Daniels warned them of the demands and rigor of the program, of the impact it would make on their lives and those of their families. The women would need two babysitters--one as backup for the other. Divorce and separation rate of the students was high. They would receive a weekly stipend of $99.75 and free dental care in the first year. In the second year, part of the cost would be paid by the agencies and regarded as taxable salary; thus in effect they would suffer a pay cut. She urged them to try to save part of their stipend in the first year, despite the difficulty. She knew many were coming off welfare and would want to do a little catch-up spending, "but if you're going to buy a color TV, buy a small one."
During the two-hour conversation that followed, students were invited to introduce themselves, to say why they wanted to come to the college, and to inquire about any aspect of the program. One student asked if she could switch jobs. A Muslim wanted to know if he would have time to pray. A woman asked if she had an obligation to pay the stipend back to the college if she could not finish the program. In the second hour, the applicants were more at ease, laughing, occasionally disagreeing.
Pearl Daniels and Jan Powell responded candidly to questions (yes, you could switch, but it was not encouraged; it might be difficult to observe Muslim prayer practices within the college's hectic schedule; no, it was not necessary to pay back any part of the stipend). But most of the interviewers' attention was focused on the interaction of the participants. Throughout the morning they evaluated candidates on eight criteria: (1) general appearance (dress, grooming, manners); (2) communication ability (listens to others, waits for them to finish, effectively expresses own ideas and opinions); (3) relevancy of comments to group discussion (comprehension, appropriateness, understanding of what is taking place in group); (4) attitudes toward peers (interest in peer comments, openness to other points of view); (5) attitude toward group leaders (interaction, attention, quality of relationship, any hostility toward authority?); (6) expressed social concerns (awareness of problems and solutions, knowledgeability, values, recognition of need for change); (7) demonstrated potential for helping others (listening, evidence of warmth and empathy); (8) academic motivation (willingness to try, readiness to see learning as a positive way to change society, others, and self). Daniels and Powell made clear that the college sought insight into the attitudes and motivation of potential students. Selection was made with a view toward the goals of the program, in this case, a profile of the highly motivated "humane" worker who listens, has empathy, sees need for change, and has the determination to get results.
At the end of the session, students spent the afternoon taking the college's own examinations while the interviewers compared their ratings. The first student they discussed was a Polish male, Jerzy Kielow, 21, single, a high-school graduate living with his mother, who spoke some Spanish in addition to Polish. Jan Powell felt he was isolated and withdrawn; he had sat apart, did not join in, hadn't bothered to turn around when she went to the board behind him to draw a diagram explaining the curriculum. Before the interview began he approached her about including his girl friend in the interview. When he was told no, he was unable to accept such a refusal, and he came back to plead this case. The interviewers noted that his oral presentation did not match the expectations they had on the basis of the polished application essay he had written; they wondered whether he had written it and made a note to look carefully at the examination he was taking that afternoon. He raised no questions and did not seem to remember Jan Powell, who had met him and other Polish applicants at a neighborhood center several weeks ago. Grant wondered whether Kielow's stilted and insecure presentation reflected a kind of culture shock he must have felt at encountering such an egalitarian setting, where college admissions officers gave applicants permission to address them by their first names and strangers were asked to speak quite personally about their motives. Pearl Daniels considered this but replied that to be successful at the college, a student would have to be able to interact successfully in a group. His application was laid aside as doubtful, pending review of his exam.
The admissions officer warmed to a 45-year-old Polish woman who had three children, had worked in a hospital in Poland, but had spent most of her life mothering and now wanted to do something for herself. They liked this "budding feminist" and gave her high marks for comments she made about the need for Poles in her neighborhood to make overtures to the nearby Puerto Rican community. The Black Muslim was a high-school dropout, now 26. As a child, he had bagged heroin for his parents, shot it up himself at age 14, and kicked the habit at 22 when he converted to his new religion. Jan Powell felt hostility toward his insistence on making time for Muslim prayers five times a day and wondered whether someone who wore Muslim garb as a "badge" could "fold other people in," or be open to their point of view. Yet she was impressed by his honesty and his care for five foster children whom he and his Muslim wife have taken in. He was put in the category of "probably admit" pending exam results. Jose Morales was appealing to both interviewers. They felt that this man who helped Spanish-speaking people fill out the forms in the welfare office so they could avoid the sharks' fees, who listened, and was enthusiastic, was "our kind of student." They admitted him at once, along with the older Polish woman.
The examination which students were taking was homegrown. No nationally standardized tests are given: the college does not find these useful for its own diagnostic purposes, and many of its applicants resent such tests (we find the college's practice more justifiable at entrance than at exit, as we shall discuss in more detail later in this chapter). CHS follows the principle that even unsuccessful applicants should learn something from taking a test. Hence the first reading comprehension question is a short article from the New York Daily News explaining a simple test for diagnosing sickle-cell anemia, a hereditary disease found almost exclusively among blacks. There are also excerpts from Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man and an editorial by W.E.B. DuBois hailing the black soldier of World War 1: "Out of this war will rise an American Negro, with the right to vote and the right to work and the right to live without insult."
The college's ideology seeps into the model answer sheet used to grade exams. For example, on a 25-word vocabulary test, the model answer for "professional" is given as "someone who has competence and commitment to serve." The word "service" is defined as "really helping." One of the questions following the W.E.B. DuBois editorial asks whether students would make the same arguments about the black soldier in the Vietnam War, and the answer sheet reads: "No. He was fighting other people of color. If there is a right side, it is more the Communists. There are no immediate benefits for the returning black G.I. except a small G.I. Bill." But questions cast in this way constituted less than 20 points on a 385-point scale. It would be misleading to interpret the whole test as ideological and designed to screen out those with "incorrect" political views. In fact, the college's bias is more like that of a religious group seeking postulants who hear its call for service and social change, those who would be good candidates for the college's "ideology of citizen empowerment."
The exam also includes questions about the college, based upon he materials distributed to students in advance and the explanations given to the students in the admissions session. It concludes with a short math quiz.
Jerzy Kielow's scores confirmed the interviewers' suspicions that he may have had help writing his application. His comprehension and math scores were so low as to eliminate him. Jose Morales scored 315 (250 is "passing") with an excellent comprehension but weak math skills. Of the eight, five were accepted, two rejected, one provisionally admitted. Two of those admitted had a year of college, three were high-school graduates, and Morales had completed the 11th grade.
The admissions process, like the college itself, is compassionate but tough. It not only admits a student but, acting as a proxy for various agencies, in effect is hiring him.* The reputation of the college rests on the performance of its students, and while CHS takes chances, it can not risk many disasters on the job. Yet CHS has been secure enough, for example, to turn down a major "training contract" from a state agency that wanted the college to cut its curriculum to order and give up its hopes for a master's level program.
*This, of course, makes dismissal more difficult, since to fail a student is essentially to "fire" him. But the college tries not to shirk that responsibility. Though it grants wide access, it does not guarantee exit.
A typical negotiating strategy was illustrated on the day Ruth Messinger and Bonnie Hall went to the Manhattan Development Center to secure placements for fourteen students. They met with the heads of several mental-health facilities associated with the center. Some of these were residential facilities for severely mentally retarded children, others community halfway houses or mental-health therapy centers. Dr. Alphonse Sorhaindo was perhaps the most favorably disposed of the group toward the College for Human Services and was eager to have its students as internes.
But others around the table were more skeptical. After polite probing of the curriculum, they feared that shrinking budgets would force them to dismiss the CHS students at the end of the program. But at this point Ruth Messinger intervened to explain that Audrey Cohen had negotiated in Albany with the associate commissioner of the State Department of Mental Hygiene. He had agreed that they would find funds and "job lines" for fifty-five CHS students at the completion of the two-year program. Ruth Messinger showed them a copy of that letter and promised that the college would hold the commissioner-not them-responsible for the jobs. This was typical of the college's strategy of negotiating job quotas at the highest level so that local agencies were relieved of the burden of justifying new budget positions whenever possible. Although such high-level endorsement is crucial, the college must still win its way into individual agencies and obtain the director's signature to a seven-page contract, the heart of which reads:
The College and the Agency agree to this relationship in order to: a) develop appropriate new educational routes into the human service profession; b) plan and implement training leading to professional employment; c) jointly employ a system of performance-based assessment criteria which will insure professional competence; d) initiate and implement procedures for acquiring the academic degrees and certification that will assure Program Graduates appropriate professional status; and e) provide skilled workers who, both during the course of the program and thereafter, will improve, supplement and expand human service delivery and demonstrate new and effective professional roles.
The contract then spells out the agency's responsibilities and declares in detail what the college will do: that it will help to devise the educational component of training on the job, and make a determination of what portion of time will be spent in work and/or study.* At the negotiating session we are describing here, one of the directors of the Manhattan Development Center voiced his poor opinion of the CHS students who worked at his agency in 1971: they "shouldn't have been working with patients at all." He wanted assurances that subsequent students would be adequately supervised, explaining that his staff was already stretched too thin. Ruth Messinger said that they had made some mistakes and that they were now recruiting abler students. Incompetent students would not be retained. Coordinating teachers, she admitted, had been under increasing pressure and had carried an excessive workload. By morning's end, the director, who had been consistently doubtful, agreed to take four students personally under his wing. While we cannot tell what motivated the director partially to overcome his doubts, it was our impression that the persistent and non-defensive style in which Ruth Messinger and Bonnie Hall had responded to his criticisms had proved disarming.
*The full two-year program is organized in three broad phases, and the number of hours devoted to a formal educational component, as compared with the number of hours on the job, varies. The amount of compensation given by the agency and the amount paid by the college out of its CETA funds are adjusted proportionately.
"Become an effective learner and potential professional," is the simple declaration students hear as they begin classes at CHS. For most of them, the idea that one can learn more or less effectively is a novel one. Perhaps an even greater discovery is the variety of attitudes their classmates have about the likelihood of positive growth and change. This, of course, is the "value dimension" of the first competency, as set forth in Appendix 4. The purpose of learning is to "Demonstrate your readiness to work toward realizing your personal and professional goals and helping the College fulfill its mission by joining the College as . . . a potential professional."
From one viewpoint, the first competency is a course on CHS and its unique language of "crystals," "performance grids," and "constructive actions." Students are being asked if, on the basis of more detailed knowledge of what the place is about, they are ready to make a contract to pursue the college's goals. Particularly for students in a high-risk category (which at CHS may mean recent parole on a felony charge), this is a moment of commitment, when they must decide if they "really want to get off the comer."
By the end of the four-week period devoted to the first competency, students must write a proposal describing their personal goals over the next two years and outlining the steps by which they will reach them. In the process, they must demonstrate an understanding of how others will help them reach these goals (the self-and-others dimension), that they understand how the college's aims contrast with those of traditional professional education (the systems dimension), and how they can "determine and rank long and short range goals and develop alternative strategies to meet them" (the problem-solving skills dimension). Students keep a log or diary during this first competency unit, which includes an exercise in assessing the values of the CHS teachers they are encountering in class. Students also read autobiographies showing contrasting values and learning styles.
Grant had met Jose Morales in June and it was November when he caught up with him again. Morales had completed the first competency on becoming a learner, and the second on establishing a professional relationship at the worksite; now he was in the midst of the third: "working with others in groups, helping to establish clear goals." Grant and he went to lunch together, and in spite of his high original expectations Morales did not seem discouraged. The only reservation he expressed was that perhaps the screening should be tougher--fewer students should be taken with deficiencies in basic skills and with family problems. Yet it seemed remarkable to him that there were no drunks and nobody high on drugs in the college, compared with what he knew of other colleges in the city. He winced when it was suggested that perhaps classes should be tracked in skill areas--"tracking" was virtually a forbidden word--but on reflection he thought this was needed. Of course, if the college had been tougher, he might not have been accepted. His math was poor and he didn't know how to write a paragraph. In fact it wasn't until the second day of his skills class that he knew what a paragraph was. Now he could write one.
Morales said he was no professional yet, "not by a long shot," but he was learning. In fact, when he was admitted he thought a mistake had been made. He didn't think he was ready or prepared to be a professional. "It was like telling me I was going to be chief surgeon at Mt. Sinai. What the hell am I going to do with a scalpel in my hand? I might cut myself." But after the first competency (which he called "the orientation period"), he realized it was possible "to take your own experiences in life, your own true feeling, and if you want to make a contribution to the community you can."
He was inclined now to think one could change things. That was something that he had learned. He discovered values he didn't know he had--for example, the way his religion affected his outlook. Also, "how do you say it? . . . fatalistic ... I was willing to just let things be, but coming here I learned you can really change things." His wife tells him he has changed, that he doesn't explode at the children so much. He's more likely to listen instead of brushing them away. But things weren't going that well on the job. He was not sure he was cut out to be a teacher (his job placement was as a teacher's aide in an alternative high school). Maybe he would do better at counseling. But one could talk about the problems--that was also a virtue of the college.
Over several years, Grant visited more than a score of classes at the college. Some were stimulating, some not so successful, and others minor disasters. What distinguished them was the attention to student field experiences; the common, cumulative curriculum tied to a series of student "constructive actions"; the subjugation of disciplinary divisions of knowledge to the functional categories of the competency goals, and the de-emphasis of reading or analysis of texts. Nothing is labeled psychology or sociology or economics. Many CHS students, to be sure, would not know how to answer if asked whether they were learning any sociology. They do, of course, though not in a formal, structured sense. Adele Brody, a lawyer by training, teaches what in many sociology departments would be called a course on formal organizations. But the students do not read S. M. Lipset, Peter Blau, or any of the standard sources in this field. Adele Brody distributes copies of agency budgets and teaches students how to read them to find out who makes decisions, or how informal structures may block a decision that originates in formal channels.
A Polish student in her late twenties could not describe what she had learned by using formal sociological categories. She had had a smattering of sociology at Staten Island Community College, and contrasted it with CHS, where "we are dealing with more realistic problems of people, of the agencies of the city." What did she mean by that? She replied:
To be effective in the situation. To analyze the client's problems--to know what is realistic, what is not. How to deal with a particular client, know yourself, know your emotions. Once you're in the agency, how to feel it out. Know who to go to see to get something done.
The practical, applied emphasis is evident in many classes. When a student asked Kalu Kalu, "How do we know how much a dollar is really worth?" he turned the question back on the students and guided them in constructing an index comparing today's prices of basic products with those of ten years ago. Yet if they were asked to define a cost-price index, many of these students would not be able to give the textbook answer.
The reading lists in the formal curriculum guides are impressive. Under Competency V (Counseling), for example, 71 books are listed, from Samuel Butler to Thomas Szasz, and including Freud, Erikson, Haim Ginott, Camus, Robert Coles, Arthur Janov, Jung, Marx, Maslow, Nietzsche, Wilhelm Reich, Carl Rogers, Shakespeare, Skinner, and Tennessee Williams. Even many doctoral students would not be at ease With the range of literature listed! This is no modest list of 100 great books; it is closer to 1,000 (if one adds all the competencies).
In actuality, traditional reading of this sort has a low priority. The students' acquaintance with books is painfully thin. Faculty members acknowledge this by assigning only short xeroxed articles or chapters-seldom books. Frequently key passages are read in class, an open acknowledgement that not many have read the assignment. There are few written assignments or "bookish" demands. The college stresses action. Students have hectic schedules, and the faculty are overburdened themselves. In one class a faculty member announced a standard written assignment to be completed over the weekend. A student outburst followed-fists banged, there were loud groans and shouts of "We can't do it. No way!" She backed down. After class she admitted that they had not exactly demonstrated "professional behavior" and she resolved not to be intimidated a second time.
Many students are not skilled at analyzing texts. In one class, a student explained the book Parent Effectiveness Training as being about "reverse psychology . . . you know, it's like when your kid wants to go to the store to get some bubble gum and you don't want him to go, you use reverse psychology on him." Another student, who had outstanding on-the-job ratings, when asked what readings had been helpful, could not think of any. Finally she thought of Rousseau, but when pressed she couldn't "remember what his philosophy is."
Yet a class in group dynamics, in which students were analyzing the makeup of their own group, was a model that most teachers would envy. Similarly, Tom Webber's class was lackluster and withdrawn when he attempted to get students to discuss an article by Ronald Hyman on teaching methods. But when he left the text, and asked students what they would do in a tutoring center for 42 high-school students on a day when 10 volunteer college tutors did not show up, the discussion covered all the strategies that one would find among a group of student teachers at Hunter or Berkeley.
However, an observer recoils from the notion that students who have such cursory acquaintance with the books that ask some of the most profound and disturbing questions about the human condition are certified as human service workers. But should one compare these students with some ideal, or with what the average nurse or primary-school teacher knows of Rousseau? Furthermore, will reading Rousseau or Shakespeare improve their performance? Are not most liberal arts, and even many more "technical," courses taught to students n social work and teaching arbitrary; don't they at least have only weak correlations with performance? Doesn't the foregoing disjunction between discussing Rousseau and discussing what to do in a tutoring center simply confirm the Aristotelian distinction between theoretical and practical wisdom? To know something is not to do something well. One cannot justify Rousseau or Shakespeare in relation to short-term rewards.
Any attempt to justify the importance of gaining wisdom through reading only amounts to a vulgarization and an admission of defeat. Can music be justified to someone who has never heard a bar? Books can be valued only after they are experienced, and the traditional sources must be included in any professional curriculum on the rounds that our notion of a humane life is impoverished without them. Yet we know that professional education in America is often impoverished even when it is accompanied by a smattering of the liberal arts .28
What of more specialized or technical knowledge? A teacher of mathematics obviously needs to know mathematics. A pharmacologist must understand certain branches of chemistry and biology. The college's position is that most specialized knowledge can be learned on the job. With no laboratories, the scientific knowledge imparted crucially depends on the resources devoted to students on the job, and here opportunities vary enormously.
Gladys King, a 45-year-old black student who interns as a counselor in an alternative high school in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn, faces the problem many of the more able CHS students confront. In the competition for jobs, will they be better off with training for a specific position? She wants to be a counselor-teacher and has decided to take those specific courses in a community college in the evening. Did she choose that avenue of training because she needed specific credentials or because she lacked knowledge to do the work she wanted to do?
I really do need more academic preparation to feel educated as a whole person. Maybe it's an inadequate feeling on my part. I will probably end up doing the same work I am doing now [by which she meant counseling], but I would like to be a counselor-teacher. I need science courses, not more counseling courses. Also math courses. These are the courses I need to feel like a well-rounded person. To me a well-rounded person means an adequate person. So I can function better in my job. If I am asked to assist the math teacher or assist the science teacher, I would like to know that I am prepared for that.
Gladys King's dilemma points up some of the limitations and problems of the CHS program. She is a fascinating, strong-willed woman typical of many of the older blacks at the college. She was born in Georgia, never finished high school, but earned an equivalency certificate after she came to New York. Before coming to CHS she worked as a playground supervisor, then became assistant to the director of a local community-action program. She had earlier taken a six-week program through the University Without Walls, which was designed to teach participants about federal programs to help church and community groups finance nonprofit housing. Having paid tuition out of her own pocket, she was dismayed to get no college credit for this program; nor would Pace College give her credit when she applied to a business administration program there. She deeply believes in CHS and its performance-based style, but she needs the additional insurance that would come from more traditional courses. CHS for her seems to be merely another chapter in the frustration of putting a high degree of effort into programs that bring questionable monetary rewards. She suspects the college gives adequate preparation for social work and counseling, but for teaching, some science and math seem necessary.
Another area of technical knowledge that the college does not teach well would be called "tests and measurements" in a traditional catalog. The prejudice (which may be a fair prejudgment in some instances) that most of these tests are bad or ill-used is imparted to the students but they are taught little that will allow them to be sophisticated critics or users of such tests. The college's ideology also infects discussions of modern social science. For example, in one class the Coleman Report was lumped with other "social theories that blame the victim for not learning." Although the Coleman Report does provide evidence that home environment affects achievement test scores more than do differences in school quality (measured by traditional indicators such as cost per pupil), Coleman also argues that learning opportunities for poor children could be improved through economic integration (schools that have a good mix of lower-, middle-, and upper-class families). In some classrooms at CHS, students are more willing to discuss the complexities than are fervent faculty. One teacher presented as unchallengeable the notion that in school it was "white middle-class prejudices that turn black kids off," whereas an older black woman later challenged a classmate: "What makes you think black- kids can't learn to read from Dick and Jane readers? I learned to read from Dick and Jane books." The school's change-oriented ideology also infects the way material is presented. A film on the community organizer Saul Alinsky, presents him as a model to be emulated without question, and much of the discussion about him sounds like a testimonial.
While the fault lies somewhat in ideological bias, it is also a reflection of the faculty's limited knowledge. There are no sociologists at CHS who are likely to have read the full Coleman Report and secondary analyses of it. The faculty's disciplinary training in social sciences is not strong. It does shine in other areas: interviewing skills, group dynamics, a detailed knowledge of how human resources agencies in New York work, and explanations of new laws affecting client rights in many sectors. A deputy director of a mental-health agency was surprised that CHS students who had been on the job only a few months were familiar with court decisions affecting the mentally ill which professionals on his staff had not read. Moreover, the students saw in the decisions implications relevant to improving the treatment of patients in his facility.
The college also employs an excellent staff to teach basic writing skills to students who enter with severe handicaps in this area. Whenever possible, writing is taught in the context of reports or memos likely to be required on the job. During the first year students spend two hours a week in writing clinics. Some make extraordinary progress, but others do not, and poor writing ability is one of the most frequent criticisms one hears from supervisors of CHS students.
The best teaching grows out of the "constructive action" projects students must develop on the job. This kind of teaching-the college's trademark-is focused on clarifying and generalizing what is learned in the field and what needs to be learned in order to complete the individual projects. Faculty sometimes grow weary, however, of students who do little or no reading and tend to dismiss a theoretical point or criticize a position without really understanding it. Such students must be convinced that a theory is useful even if it does not have a specific, immediate application to a client with a problem. It may be useful for understanding the role of the supervisor or the organizational setting in which one is working.
Of course, much can be taught that does relate to the immediate, practical problem. The case method that has been so effective in teaching education, social work, counseling, is utilized at CHS for the study of real, rather than hypothetical material.*
*Obviously, there are kinds of skills--such as interviewing and negotiating--that cannot be learned out of a case-study textbook, no matter how wide or interesting is the range of cases presented. We are indebted to Zelda Gamson's acute perceptions of some of the issues raised by the use of the case-study method.
The most difficult and challenging task students face comes on the heels of the four-week competency unit on "becoming an effective learner." During this time, something of an orientation period as we have said, students are at the college five days a week. With the second competency ("establish a professional relationship at the worksite with coworkers and citizens"), they begin to spend three days each week on the job. In more than a few agencies which have agreed to employ CHS students, a multitude of problems develops as they are actually integrated into the work setting. Some supervisors are openly skeptical that these students-many without high school diplomas and just off welfare-are in fact potential professionals. At Morrisania Hospital in the Bronx, ten positions in social work had been negotiated. But when the students showed up, they were not accepted, though ultimately they were allowed to remain in a variety of other human service capacities. In a public school to which they had been assigned, teachers would not allow two CHS students into the teachers' lounge. And even where there is no hostility, students must overcome the common perception that CHS is a community college preparing paraprofessionals. When students who are treated by the college as professionals are placed in paraprofessional or sub-professional positions, it is difficult if not impossible for them to make the jump to professional status. The self-doubts of the students themselves (sometimes grounded in realistic self-appraisals of deficiencies in knowledge in specialized fields), the natural tendency to seek good relationships with coworkers (difficult if you are seen by paraprofessionals as a rate-buster on the way up), and the gatekeepers who are protecting the existing positions with the tariff of the five-year master's compound the problems.
One hears about these battles in visits to field sites: the efforts to gain access to client records, or to professional staff seminars or other equivalents of the executive washroom. The outcomes of these struggles vary, of course, and even where the host agency is hospitable, students may be relegated to paraprofessional positions at the end of their training because of budget restrictions or lack of formal degree requirements.
The quality of the student placement is the linchpin on which the whole program turns. One model site is the Museum of Natural History, where a Spanish-speaking student works as a teaching aide in the Mexican wing. Here the college had tapped the resources of a Ph.D.-level museum staff who worked closely with the intern, tutoring him, guiding his reading in Mayan culture, and teaching him museum procedures. Similarly, at the Keener Clinic, a residential facility for retarded children, students rotated through internships in physical therapy, behavior-modification techniques, and classroom training. They also participated in a weekly seminar under the direction of a Columbia doctoral student in psychology. In other placements, the college has not been as successful. At the Polish-Slavic Center in Brooklyn, for example, efforts to turn students into switchboard operators and envelope stuffers had to be warded off.
In its attempt to push the pendulum of reform in the direction of more humane service to clients, the college's rhetoric sometimes sounds like quotations from Chairman Mao,*and the appeals to the students to act as change agents may strike some ears as the slogans of agents provocateurs. But the day-to-day realities of the college, in contrast to the clarion calls in proposals to funding agencies, reflect a sober awareness that change usually comes a step at a time. A random sampling of student constructive action projects reveals the following quite modest proposals:
To organize a school library.
To publicize the community programs in the Henry Street Settlement House neighborhood.
To open a "general store" in a high school selling pens, papers, books to raise money for school teams and give students a sense of identity.
To plan a program for the training of child-care workers.
To teach coworkers a simple vocabulary to converse by hand signals with deaf children.
To make patients at Morrisania Hospital more aware of their rights.
*For example: "We cannot doubt that the Human Service Society will become a reality. A massive change in the use of human power is coming in this century, and we must prepare for it now. It will be a change as great as that which took individual workers out of their ground floor shops and into the assembly lines. The industrial age swept a whole society away in its path. The Human Service Society will mean an equally sweeping change, but the motive force will be a concern for the quality of individual human life." "Two-Year Professional Program Leading to the Degree of Master of Human Services," mimeographed, August 1974, 1: xi.
The proposal to organize a school library competently described twelve tasks the student would perform, such as ordering and cataloging books, establishing a circulation flow, and so forth. The student who wanted to plan a child-care program needed a good deal of help. His folder included a confused miscellany of pamphlets--one on child care from birth to eighteen, another on alcoholism and drugs. The student showed little awareness that he would need to draw upon the skills of teachers, developmental psychologists, nutritionists, and others to plan such a program. The Morrisania Hospital proposal was more typical; it involved discovering and publicizing a variety of patient rights and benefits.
Just as the proposals are not as radical as the rhetoric, faculty do not insist in practice upon rigid application of the rule that the client is always right. Jose Morales, for instance, eventually became discouraged in his teaching at an alternative high school. Among other things, students seldom showed up for class, or arrived forty or fifty minutes late. Why didn't he try making a contract with them? it was suggested. If he agrees to come, they should, too. He had tried that, but students sat on all committees and hired and fired the teachers, who had no power to enforce such contracts. With the support of his coordinating teacher, he resigned the job and transferred to another agency. Though he eventually did go back to the school at the request of other students and faculty, the experience had left him with serious doubts as to whether he should pursue the profession.
The student working at the Museum of Natural History argued with the coordinating teacher who insisted that he take the initiative in approaching families and groups of children to teach them about the exhibits in the Mexican wing. She also suggested that the student include a display on how Mayans ground corn on every tour. When the student responded that he didn't want to buttonhole visitors who didn't have a certain threshold of interest, the teacher wondered whether he wasn't being "elitist" by making the visitors responsible for asking for or signaling their need for service. But she did not argue her bias overbearingly or insist she was right.
On some occasions the students have learned their lessons so well that they have come close to losing their jobs. A Spanish-speaking student working in the emergency ward of the Morrisania Hospital pressed for treatment for a patient who had been turned away by the doctor in charge. When he refused, she appealed to higher authority. Subsequently, he sought her dismissal.
Clearly, the kind of assessment one receives often depends on who does the assessing. The doctor we have just mentioned "failed" the student, but the patients and other lay professionals in the hospital took her side. The college has tried to reflect this reality by establishing an assessment procedure in which clients, peers, supervisors, and faculty all participate, but in which the teacher makes the final decision. Assessment of constructive action proposals, written work, and on-the-job performance occur throughout the year, and the major evaluation comes with the student year-end review. One year, the CHS counseling staff and the agency supervisors were asked to fill out assessment forms responding to the dimensions of competence as listed on the performance grid. Were students able to identify goals, understand systems, and so forth? Nearly 90 percent of the agency supervisors returned the forms-a remarkably high proportion. Faculty and counselors then discussed each student's case, in an attempt to make an over-all assessment. The process was both stimulating and frustrating. Different parties put different interpretations on the criteria. Judgments about the same student diverged. How to combine them? To secure and evaluate clients' assessments was difficult (the college even attempted to interview preschool children about a teacher's performance in one instance). The sheer amount of paper generated was overwhelming. The college now occupied the eleventh floor for their classes; the feeling began to grow that they would have to rent the twelfth just to store the assessment forms!* The data included not just the rating sheets but the student's entire portfolio, which one faculty member described as being like a 400-page novel (he thought he could read four or five portfolios in a morning, but found he could hardly get through one in that time).
*The forms do not only pertain to students. The college faculty follows its own preaching on assessment. Students complete elaborate faculty evaluation forms at the end of every competency (8-10 weeks). Faculty observe each others' classes and spend a day observing each other in their supervisory roles in the field. CHS has one of the most thoroughgoing faculty assessment systems we have seen.
In the spring of 1976 attempts were made to "standardize" and simplify the assessment process; but now another basic problem arose. Should students be assessed only on performance of a constructive action? What if the proposal fails utterly but the student learns a great deal from the experience? Does the faculty have absolute or relative notions of what constitutes a good performance? Is it fair to a student to "fail" him or her at the year-end review? Must such a student repeat the entire year? After listening to a faculty committee discuss these matters, an observer was impressed with the committee's willingness to discuss so candidly the difficulties of what they were attempting, and to raise questions that challenged some of the core ideas of the program.
In contrast to the elusive measures reflected on the forms, faculty members use unambiguous indicators of performance when they talk informally about students they are supervising: Do they get to work regularly and on time? (actually one of the most difficult and crucial matters). Do they participate in class and complete assignments? Can they write? Do they dress, look, and act like professionals? Are they serious and motivated? Perhaps it is a mistake to cast the language of assessment in the same language as the teaching goals of the program.
Sometimes real differences of opinion arose between faculty and agency supervisors. A supervisor at a social-work agency told me that she considered three of the four CHS students assigned to her as unlikely candidates for professional status. They had serious deficiencies in reading, writing, and analytical skills. When the faculty member suggested that their greater empathy and understanding of clients should compensate for their deficiencies, the supervisor replied quite firmly that "just having lived is not enough." She insisted that sophisticated diagnostic skills were required to analyze the difficulties of problem families and write the reports demanded by the city agencies. Do they need to write all those reports? the faculty member inquired, asking her to give an example of what she meant by "diagnostic skills." The supervisor replied that if they did not write the reports well, it would be a burden on the agency. As to diagnostic skills, she felt that three of the CHS students were below bachelor's-degree expectations and certainly not up to the master's-degree-level social worker who would be expected to "know enough about therapy to try to evoke the neurotic patterns that parents were afflicted with that led them to child abuse or whatever."
At another agency, the Keener Clinic, supervisors felt that CHS students might be at the bachelor's level, but not the master's, on two grounds. Their basic writing and math skills were low, and, secondly, they lacked specialized knowledge. For example, CHS students would not know enough about psychological testing to administer and interpret a battery of tests. Could such skills be taught on the job? Yes, but more time would be required on the agency's part, and students would need stronger basic skills.
There are a multitude of contexts in which one could analyze the significance of the reforms attempted by the College for Human Services. One could challenge its most basic premise of the need for a "human service" society on the grounds that it makes more sense to strengthen the family through direct grant programs than to enlarge the army of paid professionals who perform family-like functions.*
*This brings to mind the comment of a CHS student at Morrisania Hospital who said, "We aren't paraprofessionals; you should turn the word around: professional parents."
But complex modern societies cannot do without bureaucracies, and few persons would disagree with the aim of making them more responsive to human needs. Although CHS has rejected the term "paraprofessional" to describe its graduates because the term has meant a restriction of opportunities, there is a sense in which it has indeed hastened the development of a needed paraprofessional resource. "Para-" can mean "near" or "alongside" as well as "subsidiary to." The college fosters a leavening of the professions, some of which have severely and arbitrarily restricted entry. CHS seeks to supply in the human services the analogue of the physician associate in medical practice. The difficulties of establishing these roles and new performance measures within the framework of the various professions that the college includes within the mantle of "human services" are, of course, enormous. The achievements of the College for Human Services, begun by amateurs in rented quarters on short-cycle budgets, are remarkable.
The program took ten years to develop. Not a long time as historians would measure it, but much longer than most contemporary American educational innovators are willing to wait: they expect to have committee meetings this month and a revolution next semester. Some faculty members have come and gone, but a core has remained for most of the decade. Audrey Cohen's tenure really began in 1964, and has run twelve years. The average term for college presidents is now less than five years, and deanships turn over quickly, yet most significant innovations in American education have not been successfully developed and institutionalized in less than a decade.
While questions remain as to the adequacy of the faculty's training in the disciplines, few departmentally organized faculties could have sustained such a complex developmental process. Conventional disciplinary ambitions had to be abandoned by a faculty willing to devote itself for a decade to the task of testing the emerging ideas about a performance-based curriculum. It might have been possible to maintain the esprit of the CHS faculty within a larger university, particularly if it were organized as a sub-college or semi-autonomous unit to protect its very different reward systems and forms of organization, but it could only have been done with great difficulty.
What does account for the high morale? Salaries are low, fringe benefits minimal, the work week long, the academic year a calendar year. CHS began as a volunteer college built with the talents of gifted women who worked full time for part-time salaries. Faculty were attracted by the ideals of the college, its sense of social mission, and its visible human accomplishments as students moved off welfare and began to rise in responsible jobs.
CHS also exemplifies the wisdom of thinking big but starting small. Its fundamental aim--to establish a performance-based and job-related curriculum designed to deliver improved service to clients--involved complex networks of funding sources, dozens of city agencies, supplementary task forces, and research consultants. But because the scale was small-never more than two hundred students and about twenty faculty--the program was manageable. The faculty could meet as a committee of the whole, with the maximum opportunity for communication. Each new wrinkle of the common curriculum was tested and appraised by all. Collegial learning was maximized. Visitors and consultants were plied with practical about the next step in the curriculum development process. The faculty had a keen sense of its own history and seemed to enjoy talking over earlier stages in the developmental process.
Though idealistic reformers, they were resilient in the face of not infrequent setbacks-"hard-headed do-gooders," if you will. When students slipped, faculty were not crushed-nor did they allow themselves to become devastated as again and again they saw the gap between hopes and outcome. The practical, job-related realities of the program helped to protect them from the rigidities of their own rhetoric.
Underlying all the talk about competent performance was a true religious sense of dedication. Most faculty members recoiled at sloppy, uncaring performance. Their desire to restore idealism to service was a blend of the Puritanism and the Evangelism of the reformer. Written materials sound like epistles to shore up lonely missionaries. CHS asks for a commitment to its "way," to the belief that in service and in giving one will be reborn.
Since a researcher is asked to make a commitment as well, this chapter has been a difficult one to write. A series of discussions about the ground rules for the research came to a head when Dean Stephen Sunderland suggested that he viewed the relationship as a potential conversion experience:
I see you as part of a strategy that the College wishes to use to spread the word about the College's good works ... and as a potential convert to the form of education and assessment that we see as necessary for a different kind of professional, social, and intellectual world.*
*Letter from Sunderland to Grant, February 18, 1976. The stages of the research relationship moved in tandem with the development of the college over a six-year period. At first Grant was treated like an expert; later he was challenged as to whether and in what sense he was a "humane professional." After some discussion Grant was ultimately given assurances that he deemed minimally necessary for responsible research. This included access to records, random interviews in the field, and the right of the college to review the manuscript prior to publication (something we have provided for routinely), but without any veto powers.
Sunderland was continually on guard, questioning "enterprises such as yours [the research] in terms of their usefulness to meeting the change goals" of the college. On one occasion, he ushered Grant out of a tense meeting called by dissatisfied students, and it was with some difficulty that Grant established his right to interview sources in city agencies without the benefit of "chaperones" from the college.
As we look back on the first decade it is clear that CHS can point to major accomplishments, but it continues to face unresolved tensions. It has established itself, surmounted internal crises and strikes, invented a new curriculum, survived harrowing cutbacks in funds for the human services in New York, extended political support networks locally and nationally; and it has drawn together a faculty dedicated to its vision of social change. Yet in the decade to come, the college will face critical problems. It must find a way to sustain the esprit of students whose jobs do not match the college's hopes, to refine the knowledge base that underlies its performance-based program, and to rationalize its proposed new degree structure to skeptical external audiences.*
*As we have mentioned, CHS's reapplication for the authority to award the master's degree in New York State has not been acted upon as this book goes to press.
Although nearly one-third of the CHS students have now had some college and fewer have been on welfare, most still face a radical transition as they leave homebound roles to meet the demands of both college and a new job-a total work week of 50 hours or more. It is doubtful that many could survive that transition without the structure that the CHS core curriculum provides or the support on the job that CHS faculty furnish as both advocates and supervisors. The practical, step-by-step nature of the CHS "performance grid" has holding power for many of these students. Yet the curriculum of constructive actions also creates role conflicts of major proportions. They are asked to become change agents, not just to hold their own as they learn the ropes, but to transform the professions by creating one that as yet is undefined. To have been chosen by CHS was a major boost in confidence for most students, and for many the curriculum is a transforming experience. But they experience difficulty in adjusting the college's hopes to the realities of the marketplace. While most students have been successful in gaining permanent employment upon completion of the program, few attain jobs at the professional level. Some are placed in aide jobs that are usually held by those with only high-school diplomas.
Obviously, CHS students enter the job market at a disadvantage without a degree, and there is no guarantee that New York will grant the college's second appeal for the master's. Theoretically, it should be possible for mature adults with some college experience to earn a master's degree in an intensive two-year apprentice-style program. In practice, however, there are some serious objections that the college will need to meet:
1. The college will have to offer different degrees for different levels of competence, and distinctions will be difficult to make. Student placements, of course, vary greatly according to the level of the student's work, and the opportunities for learning on the job are also uneven-a problem that has been exacerbated by cutbacks in agency supervisory personnel.
2. Is the assessment system valid? The program specifies that students must "function" as counselors or teachers, but there is disagreement about what constitutes an adequate level of functioning. The problem is compounded by the conflating of personality and characterological values in a number of competency statements. For example, as part of the counseling competency, students are told to "Demonstrate in counseling practice that you are flexible, tough, willing to risk yourself, resilient in the face of difficulty, optimistic and able to remain focused in confused or emotional situations."
To some degree, all programs preparing teachers or social workers share similar difficulties. No program can avoid subjective measures, nor would it be desirable to do so. But at CHS the subjective nature of the assessments is not offset by any nationally standardized measures or achievement tests. In adapting the CHS program, Lincoln University in Pennsylvania required that students pass national undergraduate record exams at the level achieved by its college seniors, take mathematics proficiency exams, and complete a series of standard courses in psychology, sociology, statistics, and other subjects in addition to demonstrating the eight competencies listed on the performance grid.29
3. Can a generic degree in the human services make its way into a declining market against the competition of students prepared in specific fields? CHS students may not be able to land jobs in competition with students who have traditional preparation in psychology, education, social work, and other fields. It remains to be seen how well CHS students can make their way outside the specific placements the college has negotiated for them as part of the training process. However, if they can become armed with an accredited master's degree, it seems likely that some will be able to create new positions, as the college and its graduates have done in the past. Much will depend on the climate of client assessment that the college-along with others-is able to create.*
*CHS has developed a manual for client assessment that includes a checklist for clients. It encourages them to ask whether the professional understood and accepted the real reason why they sought service, whether the professional Put them off or made any assumptions they felt were inaccurate. See Stephen Sunderland, "Citizen Empowerment Manual," mimeographed, 1976, p. 3.
4. Can the college distinguish variations in performance tied to degree levels? No one who has interviewed CHS students over the course of their two-year program would doubt that most who stay for the full course make extraordinary progress. However, they begin from different baselines and progress at different rates. Some do reach levels that seem equivalent to those of master's students elsewhere--the degree seldom indicates high proficiency in America. Others are prepared for more useful and interesting work than they would qualify for in other settings, but are not much beyond the paraprofessional level. And some are inbetween, closer to the bachelor's degree. CHS has lengthened its program from 30 weeks a year to 50, and has raised its entrance levels so that more students now enter with at least some college. It has also attempted to distinguish between bachelor's and master's degrees (but has dropped the A.A.).
The college has not been sentimental in its judgments to date. Of 113 students who enrolled in the first "master's program" class in 1974, 76 were certified as having completed the first year, of whom 63 were hired for a second year by the agency in which they had been placed. Of these, 58 were admitted to a second year at CHS, and 51 of these won permanent positions in the agencies in 1976. But in its report to Albany seeking degree-granting powers, the faculty recommended only 12 of these students for the master's degree, and 5 for the bachelor's; 10 students were classified as needing more time to complete all the "constructive actions" before a judgment could be made. Whether any college could continue with such low completion rates is doubtful, however.
The invention of the CHS performance grid was a genuine breakthrough for the faculty, but the task of "filling in the boxes" or showing the connections between theory and practice is an ambitious one. CHS has a small faculty, and although it now has a few Ph.D.s where formerly it had none, the disciplinary training of the faculty has little depth. Like teachers in the normal schools of an earlier day, or law schools before they began hiring Ph.D.s, CHS faculty are practitioners, not scholars. Most do not regard the disciplines as irrelevant, but they are skeptical that any particular knowledge base underlies performance in the human services. Their refusal to equate a list of courses with competence is admirable. The CHS performance grid becomes a filter through which the faculty can search the disciplines for useful knowledge. That search is infused with an evangelical commitment to social change-which sometimes leads to a debunking of what is not fully understood: the result is the development of a curriculum that, though at points truncated and even anti-intellectual, is nonetheless dynamic. The unresolved issue for the college is the question of how deeply the faculty itself needs to be grounded in the disciplines in order to make an intelligent search and to distinguish values from ideology.* Not every faculty member needs a standard Ph.D.-far from it. But the faculty could benefit from a better mix of scholars and practitioners than it now has. Since CHS has achieved some recognition for the genuine advances it has made, it may be more willing and financially able to seek better trained faculty; however, whether or not it expands its faculty the tension will remain. The tension between knowledge and action is endemic to the activist-radical mode, and Audrey Cohen would probably sympathize with Arthur Morgan of Antioch, who said toward the end of his distinguished career that he wished he had been more ruthless in eliminating faculty who "came here to teach my subject" and did not share his vision of the college as a "revolution" and "a way of life."30 Yet, as at Antioch, there are some faculty at CHS who are both grounded in the disciplines and committed to social change.
*By ideology we mean here not a conscious deception or lie, but what Karl Mannheim called the "cant mentality," that fails to uncover the incongruities in thought in "response to certain vital-emotional interests." See Karl Mannheim, Ideology and Utopia, (New York: Harcourt, Brace & World, 1955), p. 195. To be aware of the danger of ideology in this sense is to recall Max Weber's assertion that "The primary task of a useful teacher is to teach his students to recognize 'inconvenient' facts-1 mean facts that are inconvenient for their party opinions." H. H. Gerth and C. Wright Mills, eds., From Max Weber (New York: Oxford University Press, 1946), p. 146.
Notes for Chapter 5
1. Joseph Featherstone, "The Talent Corps: Career Ladders for Bottom Dogs," New Republic, September 13, 1969, 1-6.
2. "Final Report of the Women's Talent Corps New Careers Program: 1966-67," CHS, May 1968, p. 52. The college's annual reports are subsequently referred to by short title.
3. The Federal Comprehensive Employment and Training Act of 1973.
4. The data cited by the college in this area is from Arthur Pearl, "The Human Service Society: An Ecological Perspective," in Public Service Employment, ed. A. Gardner et al. (New York, Praeger, 1973), quoted in "Two-Year Professional Program Leading to the Degree of Master of Human Services," mimeographed, CHS, August 1974, I:iv.
5. Second Annual Report, April 1969, p. 41.
6. Third Annual Report, June 1970, p. 35. At this time major munici-, pal workers' unions were also establishing career ladders that competed
with those of CHS.
7. First Annual Report, May 1968, p. 27.
8. Second Annual Report, April 1969, p. 35.
9. Fourth Annual Report, 1970 program, 1972, p. 64.
10. For a delightful discussion of the importance of developing math skills that bring the student beyond mere calculation or computation, see Israel Scheffler, "Basic Mathematical Skills: Some Philosophical and Practical Remarks," Teachers College Record, 78, no. 2 (December 1976): 205-12.
11. Letter from the Student Council, June 30, 1972.
12. Letter from Preston Wilcox to the board of trustees, May 30, 1972.
13. Letters from Audrey Cohen to the faculty, August 14, 1970, December 9, 1971, and June 27, 1972.
14. For a detailed explanation of the curriculum, see "Legal Service Assistants, Report on Legal Training Phase of a Joint Demonstration Program, 1969-70," Columbia University Law School, Spring 1970.
15. Fourth Annual Report, 1970 Program, 1972, p. 41.
16. The results were reported by William P. Statsky in "Field Report on Sixteen Legal Service Assistants Now Working in Nine Community Law Offices in New York City," December 9, 1969, and "Supervision Report on Sixteen Legal Service Assistants Now Working in Ten Community Law Offices in New York City," March 31, 1970.
17. Nathan Glazer, "Conflicts in Schools for the Minor Professions," Harvard Graduate School of Education Bulletin, Spring 1974.
18. Letter from Audrey Cohen, September 26, 1976.
19. Laura P. Houston, "Black People and New Careers: Toward Humane Human Service," Social Casework, May 1970.
20. In the literature, "success" is usually translated as income and occupational status, which is not the same thing as competence, of course. Independent measures of competence are rare. The most comprehensive review of the relations between scores on cognitive tests (which are not exactly "grades"), level of schooling completed, and occupational success has been carried out by Christopher Jencks et al., in Inequality: A Reassessment of the Effect of Family and Schooling in America (New York: Basic Books, 1972). Jencks and his colleagues found that cognitive skill had little relationship to income, although cognitive test scores do correlate with educational attainment and educational attainment explains about one-fourth of the variance in occupational status. A few studies have attempted to relate professional competence to college grades. Correlations between schoolteachers' college grades and supervisors' ratings were low (between .2 and .3). Similarly, supervisors' ratings of medical interns were not correlated with either undergraduate grades or pre-clinical medical-school grades. See Jencks et al., pp. 185-99.
21. The often -criticized tendency of the established professions to place the interests of the profession ahead of those of particular clients is illustrated by an Australian study: D. S. Anderson, "A Study of Professional Socialization," Education Research Unit, Research School Of the Social Sciences, Australian National University, 1973.
22. David C. McClelland, "Testing for Competence Rather Than for Intelligence;" American Psychologist, 28, no. 1 (January 1973): 1-14.
23. Charles Dailey, David McClelland et al., "Professional Competences of Human Service Workers," McBer and Company, January 1974.
24. "Two-Year Professional Program Leading to the Degree of Master of Human Services," mimeographed, August 1974, 1:64.
25. "A Game of Change: The New Profession of the Human Services," mimeographed, June 1974, p. 1.
26. "Two-Year Professional Program," 1:5.
27. Stephen Spurr, in Academic Degree Structures: Innovative Approaches (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1970), explores the miasma surrounding the definition of what a master's degree is.
28. For a careful review of polls comparing the factual knowledge of American high-school and college graduates over a 25-year period, which reveals that the smattering of knowledge is quite thin among the latter, see Herbert H. Hyman, Charles R. Wright, and John Shelton Reed, The Enduring Effects of Education (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1975).
29. "Lincoln Masters Program in Human Services," Lincoln University, Pennsylvania, mimeographed, August 1976, pp. 4-9.
30. See Burton R. Clark, The Distinctive College: Antioch, Reed and Swarthmore (Chicago: Aldine, 1970): There are striking parallels between CHS and Antioch.
Appendix 4: The Performance grid: College for Human Services
Describe appropriate and realistic purposes and demonstrate reasonable success in achieving them.
Demonstrate a clear understanding of your values and persistence in working for them
C. Self & Others Demonstrate an understanding of yourself and others in relation to your purposes.
D. Systems Demonstrate an understanding of systems in relation to your purposes.
E. Skills Demonstrate an ability to make good use of necessary and appropriate skills in the achievement of your purposes.
I. Become an effective learner and potential professional, accepting the responsibility for identifying your learning goals and finding appropriate resources for achieving them.
II. Establish professional relationships at the worksite . . . with co-workers and citizens.
The FACETS of competent performance: the intersection of competencies and dimensions (see Appendix 5 for examples)
III. Work with others in groups . . . helping to establish clear goals and achieve optimum results.
IV. Function as a Teacher . . . helping people to define and achieve appropriate learning goals.
V. Function as a Counselor . . . helping people to resolve problems in a manner that promotes their growth and independence.
VI. Function as Community Liaison . . working with the people and resources of the community to meet community needs.
VII. Function as a Supervisor . . . taking the responsibility for Teaching, encouraging, and enabling other workers to make the best use of their abilities on behalf of citizens.
VIII. Act as a change agent, planning, researching, and promoting programs . . . to improve Human Service delivery.
Appendix 5: Facets of the Curriculum: College for Human Services
C. Self & Others
FACET 3: Demonstrate your readiness to work toward realizing your personal and professional goals and helping the College fulfill its mission by joining the College as a learner and potential professional.
FACET 3: Describe your views on the potential of all people for positive growth and change and explain how your views affect your performance. (Allport, Erikson, Maslow)
FACET 4: Demonstrate reasonable success in achieving specific, planned relationships with one or more clients or pupils and one or more supervisors.
FACET 1: Demonstrate your understanding of the components of the new Human Service profession-new service delivery, assessment, education-in relation to the traditional professions. (Dumpson, Gartner, Rosner, NASW Guidelines)
FACET 1: Demonstrate that you are able to use problem solving skills to determine and rank long and short range goals and develop alternate strategies for reaching them.
FACET 4: Demonstrate reasonable success in achieving specific, planned relationships with one or more clients or pupils and one or more supervisors.
FACET 3: Explore your beliefs about the essential nature of human beings in relation to those of others and explain how your beliefs affect your work. (Hobbes, Skinner, Freud, Allport, Erikson, Maslow, Rogers)
FACET 3: Understand and apply in practice various aspects of the helping relationship-identifying the client, making a beginning, establishing trust, sharing expectations, fostering self-direction. (Penman, Schwartz, Rogers, Rosenthal, Combs)
FACET 3: Demonstrate in practice an understanding of your responsibilities as a student-practitioner in your agency: service goals, work responsibilities, standards, regulations, agency styles.
FACET 2: Use assessment skills to record and analyze critical incidents related to your establishing professional relationships at the worksite.
FACET 3: Demonstrate reasonable success in helping a group achieve its common purpose while working toward your individual purpose.
FACET 3: Describe your views on the issue of decision making in groups and explain how your views affect your performance. (Locke, Mill, Ibsen)
FACET 3: Demonstrate in practice an understanding of alternative approaches to working in groups and their applicability to specific situations. (Maslow, Lewin, Coyle, Bales, Thelen, Bennis)
FACET 4: Demonstrate in practice an understanding of groups as cultural units (Kluckhohn, Barnouw, Goode)
FACET 3: Demonstrate the ability to use interpersonal skills as appropriate to one's role as group member or leader. (Miles, Schwartz)
FACET 3: Describe what you plan to do to help individual learners achieve goals you have agreed on together and explain how you will determine that the goals have been realized.
FACET 5: Demonstrate in your performance as a teacher that you are open, honest, caring, and confident of the ability of learners to take increased responsibility for their learning.
FACET 5: Show that you understand and can use various theoretical approaches to learning both as a teacher and as a learner. (Piaget, Skinner, Bruner)
FACET 4: Show an understanding of the issue of equal educational opportunity, explain the issue in relation to your values, and describe how it affects your work as a teacher. (Clark, Katz, Harvard Educational Review)
FACET 4: Use research skills to find appropriate learning resources and to investigate your agency as a system for promoting learning.