18 December 2009

Friday mornings posts are back! (For today, anyways)

Hey, look at me, trying to get back to my Friday morning blog habit! It's only been, what, six months? Actually would have written more yesterday, but I did not want to take my focus away from the International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers. Modern Hooker tweeted some cool pics; SWOP East was on the internets radio.

Well, christmas is a week away. Compared to the last, oh, 10 years or so, I've been experiencing no holiday anxiety or drama at all! It's the freedom of being an out atheist, out to the three people closest to me who would be the most upset by it. I'm just assuming they were upset; we have yet to discuss it openly! In other words, I've not yet suffered any consequences for my honesty. (Being remembered in their prayers is not "consequences.")

Now for the real nitty-gritty - it's one of those "have to get this off my chest" moments.

Last April, I finished an online Paralegal Studies program through California State University, Monterey Bay - Extended Education. CSUMB EE provides the means of enrollment and certifies completion; an online educational provider actually does the teaching, via its contracted instructors. A little review of the provider/program led me to believe I would receive legitimate, and rigorous, instruction from qualified, working professionals. Upon completion of the courses, I would receive legitimate certificates indicating my completion of the legitimate educational requirements. Hard study and exams completed, and I got my certs.

So yesterday, I'm browsing the updated/revised CSUMB EE website. They now includes links to self-guided, open-ended study courses (versus the instructor-led, scheduled start-and-end-date type). I clicked through to the eLearning Center for CSU Monterey Bay, and browsed the "Personal Enrichment" courses. And what to my wondering eyes should appear but a link for "Psychic Development" courses. For the few seconds it took to click and load the page, my brain sez, "Oh, you must have misread it... they must mean 'psyche'" - like it's really one of those brain exercise programs they show on PBS. Of course, it was not. They actually, really, truly meant psychic - with courses from 40 to 80 hours long, from $228 to $310 per course.

I was taken aback. Not at the existence of such courses. (Full disclosure [as she turns red]: I started but never completed a homeopathic correspondence course back in my woo-lover phase, ca. 1991. Moving on...) No, what took me, uh, aback was that the branch of the institution of higher learning that had charged me around $3,000 for purportedly legitimate legal training also offers this crap, as if it is *equally* legitimate and valuable. Like it's REAL, man. It may be just a shopping cart link on a web page, but you know, that is the same way I got to my "real" paralegal program. The actual provider of the "psychic diploma" is Stonebridge. But look again at the description page, the graphic image at the top. It says, "The eLearning Center", has the cute CSUMB Otter logo, and "California State University, Monterey Bay Extended Ed & International Programs." What does that look like? Like you're reading "real school" course descriptions; you'll be enrolling in a real school, via a real university, which CSUMB purports to be. Maybe I should have waited for the accreditation review to be completed.

I know I don't even need to go into the laughable course descriptions - we all know it's bullshit. But it's endorsed bullshit. Endorsed by the same program that certified my supposedly legitimate paralegal training. Training that California law requires. Gosh, do psychic counselors have state-mandated minimum and continuing education requirements for rune divination, tarot reading, and lithomancy? Um, no. None of those, not even the word psychic, is mentioned in the codes. Gosh, then I wonder - from whence did the requirements for each course, and the program, originate?

This left me feeling very insecure about my paralegal education. And did I mention the anger, that a real school would offer this like a legitimate continuing education opportunity? Seeking to learn more, I clicked the EE contact page. And went, "Ai-yai-yai-yai-yai!" (That's sort of verbal for *facepalm*.) All hope was abandoned. I mean really: when the State university-employed professionals and support staff have South Park avatars for their contact page photos, what can one expect in terms of legitimacy?

Now that I have spent my morning putting this post together, getting distracted by searching statutes and seeking accreditation information, of course there is much more work I need to do if I wish to "do something" about this. But hey, I'm a lifelong, self-motivated learner (that's what got me into this mess!). I'm off to learn more about this program, and its provider, from CSUMB, Stonebridge and their accrediting associations. But it's going to take more time than I have today!

To be continued...

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