The Cost of Cronyism

Governor Beebe flushing your money down the toilet, albeit with a smile.

Yesterday I reported on the state’s hiring of an uncertified, unqualified sign language interpreter, Miss Clara Taylor.  You may recall that there were eight other applicants for the position, seven of which tested better than Miss Taylor on their qualification exams, and six of which were certified interpreters.

I also mentioned that the taxpayers will be on the hook for paying for Miss Taylor’s certification and training, in order to get her up to speed, but it was uncertain what that cost would be.  Now we have a pretty good idea.

Representative Bryan King, a member of the personnel committee that has been investigating this issue, passed along these figures that were obtained from UALR, where Miss Taylor will be enrolling:

The UALR Interpreter Education Program provides a 4-year B.A. degree in Interpretation: ASL/English with a minor in Educational Interpreting.

Most of our interpreting majors are full-time students who work part-time. The cost information below is based on full-time attendance requiring 4.5 years to complete a degree in interpretation. A person who works full-time, and takes classes part-time (such as the current ARS employee in the interpreter position who I assume will attend part-time) will take much longer. This is due to several reasons: a) sign language and interpreting courses are sequential and pre-requisite courses must be satisfied before taking higher level courses; 2) courses other than language courses are only offered once a year; c) all interpreting courses must be completed with a “C” or better and benchmark scores on sign language and interpreting must be met for continuation in the program. Additionally, interpreter graduates typically are able to pass the national RID certification test 1-3 years post B.A. graduation IF they continue gaining strong interpreting experience. Therefore, a full time student will require 5.5-7.5 years from ASL 1 to national certification. A part-time student will require up to 10 years to achieve the same outcome.

The UALR interpretation degree program requires 124-credit hours that include 44 hours of university prescribed core (general education) and 80 hours of sign language and interpreting course work. These 80 hours include:

Sign Language Classes: 22 hours

Foundation Classes: 06 hours

Interpreting, Knowledge Based: 09 hours

Interpreting, Skills Based: 36 hours

Internship: 07 hours

Total: 80 hours

DEPARTMENT OF COUNSELING, ADULT AND REHABILITATION EDUCATION INTERPRETER EDUCATION PROGRAM CCIE ACCREDITED

The UALR website indicates the estimated cost to attend UALR as an Arkansas resident, full-time for 9 months (Sept – May), based on 2011-2012 rates as:

Books/Supplies $1,574.00

Undergrad Fees $1,447.00

Undergrad Tuition $5,124.00

TOTAL $8,145.00 per Fall/Spring academic year.

Because courses are sequential, nine semesters are required to complete this degree. Based on the above published calculation, 4.5 years (124 hours) = $36,652.50

Assuming that a person has completed the 44 hours of core courses and only needs the interpreting major courses (80 hours), the estimated cost (based on the above calculations) would be: $23,646.77 ($36,652.50 / 124 credit hrs =$295.59 X 80 credit hrs = $23,646.77).

This figure also does not include:

* the tuition increase approved for 2012-2013 nor any future increases in tuition/fees.

* the possibility that a student may not earn the minimum “C” in each sign language/interpreting course to move on, and/or

* the student may not meet the program’s benchmark exam requirements in ASL IV (SCPI Intermediate) or a QAST 1/1 during the Voice-to-Sign and Sign-to-Voice courses). Both of these are industry tests scored by outside, trained raters.

Failure to meet either benchmark can result in a student not moving forward in the program until the benchmark requirement is met.

As you can see, the requirements to become a nationally certified interpreter are rigorous and demand many years of commitment to study, practice, and testing.

So, not only has Walker hired a unqualified friend to this position, she is now being given a free $36,600+ degree, compliments of the taxpayer!

And of course this $36,600 does not include Miss Taylor’s state salary and other benefits, which she has been collecting for several months, despite not doing her job, according to KATV.

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