Zero accountability

In a speech on alternative teacher certification, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee Professor Martin Haberman rips traditional schools of education for repeated failure to improve teacher quality.

Since WWII, the federal government has given over a billion dollars  to schools and colleges of education to improve the teacher workforce with nothing to show for it. These grants go directly into  the pockets of education faculty and university administrators of research who pursue lucrative careers getting even more federal grants which benefit nothing and  no one but themselves. . . . Where there is zero accountability there is  less than zero accomplished; that is, there are negative effects such as the exploitation of failing school districts and teachers’ and childrens’ time for  the generation of misleading “findings.” Teacher educators do not offer programs based on data. Like schoolfolk, their programs reflect  custom, tradition and the convenience of faculty.

We in teacher education quack about the need for making policy based on evidence but we act in ways which are not only baseless but frequently in contradition to the evidence. For example, as we speak, the folks in Las Vegas and in several other urban school districts are hiring new teachers with signing bonuses in the hope of  getting  better teachers who will stay. This is an example of policy based on delusion not fact.  And it takes precious funds from very tight school budgets. N.Y.C. spends 12 million dollars  per year for tuition for its teacher interns to complete masters degrees in education at local universities when the evidence indicates that completing these programs are not in any way  related to increasing student achievement and that as teachers earn more advanced degrees they are more likely to leave the classroom.

Studies of teacher shortages ignore the economy, Haberman says.

In periods such as the present, where jobs with any career potential  are scarce and disappearing, substantial numbers come into and remain in teaching because they have no other options. This increases the number of teachers in the poorest schools who are  strong insensitives and who have no commitment to the children. They are  also not likely to burn out. They can resist the debilitating conditions of work because they don’t care. They are  in teaching for the job and the benefits. In my city, the benefits package is 63%.

Haberman argues the best teachers are mature adults with real-world experience and knowledge of subject matter, not recent college graduates with education degrees.

Via Teacher Quality Bulletin and Education News.

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  1. I went this route after leaving the US Army. I found an appalliing lack of intellect, even among high school teachers, and no curiousity about their subjects. In certification training, we students used to bet lunch on the number of misspellings that we could find in our documentation. Most of our instructors were B.Ed and M.Eds. It got too exhausting, so we changed to trying to find single pages without an error. We were not very successful.