Arne Duncan takes on schools of ed

The full speech from Secretary Duncan is here.

I agree with portions of it —

“In all but a few states, education schools act as the Bermuda Triangle of higher education—students sail in but no one knows what happens to them after they come out. No one knows which students are succeeding as teachers, which are struggling, and what training was useful or not.”

“In far too many universities, education schools are the neglected stepchild. Often they don’t attract the best students or faculty. The programs are heavy on educational theory–and light on developing core area knowledge and clinical training under the supervision of master teachers.”

Here’s the problem, though…you can’t ask teacher colleges to “become more rigorous and clinical, much like other graduate programs, if we are going to create that new army of teachers” without offering some kind of support. Schools of education serve various roles on campus — cash cows being the most important — but pooping on them won’t make a difference. What will you offer in their place?

And this idea highlights a deeply entrenched fallacy about teacher education programs:

But I’d like to see high-quality alternative pathways for aspiring teachers, like the New Teacher Project and Teach for America, expand in coming years, too. We need to use every high-quality avenue possible to recruit teachers, whether they are older, successful adults interested in taking a new career path through programs like Troops for Teachers or college seniors applying to Teach for America.

All of these high-quality alternative pathways still require students to either attend graduate school while teaching or to do so sometime within the first five years of their teaching. Alternative pathways basically means “take classes at night while you’re exhausted from teaching all day.”

Re-negotiating this paradigm would require:
*ending teacher certification
*eliminating universities as the gatekeepers of the teacher certification process.

I’m down for either — how about a school, run by an LEA in conjunction with the state, that certified teachers based on their performance in the classroom and the work they did to support their teaching?

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