Date of Degree Completion

Spring 2024

Degree Type

Capstone - Open Access


Dr. Melissa Nemon & Dr. Audrey Falk


This paper explores the rationale for the Massachusetts Department of Elementary and Secondary Education policy requirement of a bachelor’s degree as the minimum qualification for instructors in state-funded adult education programs and how this requirement obstructs equitable access to teaching careers in adult education. The bachelor’s degree policy is analyzed with respect to three complimentary theories: democratic education, equality of intelligence, and empowerment. Analysis is supported with mixed-methods research consisting of a literature review with a focus on the benefits of student leadership; review of pertinent adult education policy; a survey of staffing challenges in Massachusetts adult education programs; a comparison of state policies regarding credential requirements for adult education instructors; and an interview with the MA Director of Adult Education. This research makes the case for training and hiring graduates from adult education programs to provide critical professional opportunity for adult learners, diversify the teaching workforce, and address the critical teacher shortage. Meaningful teaching opportunities can be crafted at levels appropriate to adult learner skills and experience.