The conversation continues on how to best prepare teachers. What you might miss here is that Art Levine has also highlighted many highly-effective Schools of Education and has been working with them to produce more Math and Science teachers (hint: there's one in downtown Indianapolis). Of special note here is the fact that these other programs of alternative certification don't have any research behind them that point to success--it makes you wonder what all the vitriol is about if they don't actually have any facts, eh?
The vast majority of classroom teachers are trained in traditional colleges of education. That training, however, has come under intense scrutiny. Critics say too many teachers leave poorly prepared for the enormous changes taking place in the real world of teaching.
At Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va., like most traditional, university-based teaching degree programs, students enroll in a five-year program and receive both classroom instruction as well as student-teaching experience. It's those "real life" classroom experiences that VCU bases its curriculum on, professor Leila Christenbury says.
"I went back to teach high school English because I was concerned about being out of touch. And when you go up and down this hall in this school of education, you're going to find people who are in the schools every single week," she says. "We're not out of touch. Every person is a veteran elementary, middle or high school teacher."
After attending the panel discussion last night on proposed changes to teacher licensure, I'm equally frustrated and encouraged. The discussion was a good one and the panel seemed fair yet pointed. Dr. Bennett didn't really answer any questions and presented a muddled view of what he's trying to do and a very muddled batch of "research" that he says backs up the proposal. In fact, alot of what he said in public seemed in contradiction to what the proposal actually said. He talked a good game about "listening" and collaboration but this hasn't been how we've seen the department behave so far (I do give him credit for showing up and asking folks to formally comment on the DOE website. There are just so many unanswered questions and contradictions that frustration seems to be the general mood. Real questions remain about teaching kids with special needs, kids coming from poverty, kids learning english and a general sense on just what makes a good teacher.
Sadly, the big question now isn't "is this bad for Indiana's kids?" but rather, "just how bad is it going to be?"
The proposed changes to teacher licensure in Indiana (Read More Here) represent a radical shift in the way we train and continue to develop teachers in our state. Mnay people are very concerned that in the name of reform, a political fight is atually in the works that ends up lowevering standards for our state's teachers--one person who testified at the last meeting of the Standards Board called it a "Race to the Bottom." Most of the claims made in justifying such such a radical restructuring are baseless, without data, and in some cases just plain wrong. The public isn't currently paying attention but in fact, public questions and outcry might be the only thing can save us from such disastrous, misinformed policy--SPREAD THE WORD.
Here is a collection of links related to the proposed changes and as always feel free to use this space for questions and comments:
From the Indiana Dept of Education Strategic Plan dated Feb 25, 2009:
"Improve instructional quality and enhance school governance and leadership...
Reform and deregulate existing licensing standards to encourage the appropriate use of subject matter experts in the classroom and in administrative positions."
Questions abound as to what the proposal to "deregulate" teacher certification might mean for education in Indiana. Quoted numerous times in the campaign as being against accreditation for teacaher training programs, new Superintendent of Public Instruction, Tony Bennett seems out to transfer this power to the districts. Given current financial constraints one wonders what type of system the districts would be able to adopt (or if they even want this power/responsibility). More troubling is the inclusion of the "subject matter experts" in the second half of the statement. One can only assume here that this means cutting out Schools of Education and letting business schools train administrators, history departments train social studies teachers, etc..., ignoring the research base on what we know about effective teaching practices.
I'm hoping there are some comments out there as this is surely an attack on teacher education (yet again) and a significant step backward for the State of Indiana. There will be more to come...
Recent concerted efforts of government and business to privatize public education are well-documented, but less attention has been paid to what these trends are likely to mean for the future of teaching and teacher education. Based on a review of two reports offering recommendations for reshaping teacher education, of a variety of relevant financial data, of efforts to implement scripted materials in classrooms, and of overt hostility toward the NEA, the authors argue that efforts to undermine teaching as a highly-skilled profession with union support are already well underway. Much evidence suggests that current "reform" strategies are intentionally driving well-educated professionals from the classroom and that once a teaching shortage has been exacerbated, teaching will be virtually fully deskilled. At this point, "teaching" will be provided by alternate "delivery mechanisms" that make teachers virtually obsolete. These developments are desirable to business and government first, because privatization of education will not produce maximum profits until labor costs are reduced, and second, because professional teachers largely oppose the lie that standards and accountability as they are being implemented will benefit poor children. Stakeholders—most especially the education community—need to understand, publicly name, and then oppose current threats to the teaching profession which play a role in the privatization efforts that threaten not only public education but democracy itself.
This is a story from 1999 but still a relevant and important discussion on the goals of public education. Lot's of big names in educational thinking represented....check it out.
Education on NPR
All Things Considered,September 7, 1999 · A new poll on education by NPR, the Kaiser Family Foundation, and Harvard's Kennedy School of Government shows that there's no consensus among Americans on the underlying purpose of education. This isn't unusual. The debate has been around since public schools first started. NPR's Pam Fessler reports on what the debate is all about.
Learning to Teach: Sharing the Wisdom of Practice by Désirée Pointer Mace and Ann Lieberman "looks [for] new ways for student teachers to share their learning with teacher education professionals." They suggest that new technologies might be a way in which to share the wisdom of the field with preservice teachers. We've begun conversations (and some practice) about video case studies, portfolios, and even things like this blog on teaching as part of out teacher education program. I'm interested to see what people think about these new directions....
A little different type of post this time around but I recently had the opportunity to go down to Birmingham, Alabama to attend a workshop on the Civil Rights Movement and how it might fit in Social Studies Education courses [sponsored by the Center for Civic Education]. Folks from around the country were there for lectures, discussions, and a tour of the Civil Rights Museum. Perhaps the most amazing part however was meeting and attending the sermon of Rev. Fred Shuttlesworth, a key player in the Movement. A recent article just announced his retirement from the pulpit but based on the fiery words we heard in Birmingham, I don't think he's done.
This was such an amazing chance to see and touch the history that is so important to the present day. Throughout the weekend but particularly in Rev. Shuttlesworth sermon, was the challenge that "the work is not done." No, indeed. The struggle for basic equity in our American society continues and, so sadly, plays out so clearly in our public schools. The bitter truth is that schools are more segregated now than they were in the 50s (it's not enforced through laws but forces even more hard to track). A wonderful book is the Failures of Integration by Sheryl Cashin [NPR interview here]; its wonderful because although she tells the sad tale of how efforts have failed, she also provides some examples of communities that have progressively acted against these trends.
I learned alot of things during this weekend related to how to teach this history but, perhaps more importantly, ... that this struggle is much more than mere history.
I was wondering what folks might say about their academic preparation for entering teaching. This is part of my job--preparing teachers--and i wonder what Newteachers might say about their experiences in differing Schools of Education. And, yeah, you can be honest!