Our commitment to educational equity begins with the eight college preparatory courses, in writing and math, which we offer at San Quentin each semester. These courses reach students whose education had been previously neglected or who are self-taught. They reach students who taught themselves to read in prison. By the time students pass college prep courses, they are ready for the demands of credit courses, comparable to those they would encounter at any college outside of prison.
Instructors in the college preparatory program all work as volunteers, and most are faculty or graduate students at some of the Bay Area's most prestigious colleges and universities. Instructors typically spend 8-10 hours per week on instruction, grading, and lesson planning, and often co-teach courses with 1-2 other instructors.
At the Prison University Project, we pride ourselves on serving as a training ground for new educators. Volunteer instructors teaching college preparatory courses participate in pre-semester training workshops and receive mentoring and supervision throughout the semester from the Prison University Project. Staff support instructors as they adapt their pedagogy and design courses that provide accommodations for students with learning disabilities.
In contrast to widely-available correspondence courses available at a cost at most prisons, our courses are in-classroom and discussion-based, and offer transferable credits.