The University of Massachusetts has withdrawn from a 20-week master's degree program for teachers in the D.C. public schools, citing shortcomings in the school system's plan.
Harvey Scribner, the university education professor who had been negotiating with D.C. school officials about the program, said yesterday that officials appeared to be "just looking for a carrier of credits" rather than a high-quality degree program.
The program had the strong support of Acting Superintendent James T. Guines and board member R. Calvin Lockridge (Ward 8), whose wife, a retired principal, is one of the program's coordinators.
Officially known as the Professional Development Institute, the program was set up by Rhody A. McCoy, an executive assistant to Guines with a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts.
About 75 D.C. teachers had atteded 10 hours of classes the past five Saturdays, taking staff development corses in curriculum, management and community relations.
The teachers were told that as part of this program, they would be able to receive credit for two graduate courses from the University of Massachusetts if they paid the university $660.
The teachers were told these courses would be worth six units of credit in the university's 33-credit out-of-state degree program. Tuition for the entire program is usually $3,630.
Guines said yesterday that classes would be continued, using D.C. school system personal and other instructors, but not the university officials scheduled to become involved.
He declined to comment on whether the school system would try to enlist another university to offer graduate credit for the classes. For the time being, he said, the courses would be considered staff development and no college credit would be attached.
Several school baord members objected to the program after learning that the university did not have a license to offer courses in the District and that Guines and McCoy intended to use school system funds to pay for the institute's administrative costs, such as instructors' salaries.
School board members complained that many of the instructors were current or retired school employees already collecting a salary from the system.
Scribner said yesterday that the university had never collected any tuition from the students, although it had conducted preregistration for the teachers who wanted to use the course for graduate credit.
University officials were concerned, he said, that the degree program McCoy wanted did not give the university enough of a role in determining degree requirements.
"This whole thing has hurt the university badly," Scribner said.
In soliciting applicants for the institute, Gines told teachers it would be a program for "persons wishing to become principals and assistant principals." Liberal leave policy was put into effect for teachers taking the courses, and McCoy made the final decisions on which teachers were accepted.
Guines and McCoy said later that the teachers were given no promises that completing the institute would mean a promotion. Teachers who receive a mater's degree could earn as much as $1,400 more each year.
Three teachers interviewed after one of the Saturday sessions recently insisted that many of the teachers had signed up for the institute to get training in management, curriculum and communty relations, rather than the degree.
Jerome Shelton, a physical education teacher, told the school board last week that 80 percent of the teachers enrolled in the program already held masters' degrees.