Miseducating school teachers

Most teachers have attended education schools that set low admission and graduation standards, concludes Educating School Teachers, a new report written by Arthur Levine, former president of Teachers College, Columbia University.

. . . most education schools are engaged in a “pursuit of irrelevance,” with curriculums in disarray and faculty disconnected from classrooms and colleagues. These schools have “not kept pace with changing demographics, technology, global competition, and pressures to raise student achievement,” the study says.

A majority of teacher education alumni (61 percent) reported that schools of education did not prepare graduates well to cope with the realities of today’s classrooms, according to a national survey conducted for the study. School principals also gave teacher education programs low grades, with fewer than one-third of those surveyed reporting that schools of education prepare teachers very well or moderately well to address the needs of students with disabilities (30 percent), a diverse cultural background (28 percent) or limited English proficiency (16 percent).

Levine is not willing to get rid of ed schools, points out Alexander Russo. He’s also vague on how teacher preparation programs can be forced to change.

More teachers are skipping the ed-school route. Nearly a third of new Washington, D.C. teachers come from Teach for America and an alternative fellowship program that bypasses education schools, reports Education Sector These alternate-route teachers were graduated from more selective colleges with significantly higher grades than conventionally trained D.C. teachers.

Update: Jenny D, whose ed school, University of Michigan, was praised by the Levine study summarizes the major points.

About Joanne

Comments

  1. i don’t know what levine has to say about alt cert programs, joanne, but my limited knowledge about them is that, in many cases at least, alt cert candidates still have to go to the same ed schools and take many of the same courses — it’s just that they’re teaching already rather than having done it ahead of time.

    if that’s the case, then alt cert still means ed school — just in a different order. but maybe you or others know better.

  2. Have Levine drop me a line. I’ll tell him how to fix ed schools but he won’t like the prescription and he won’t be able to do much to implement it if he did.

    Everyone’s looking for non-systemic solutions because the systemic solutions necessary to address the problems of public education are too painful to consider. But since ed schools are a supplier to public education the problems of public education become the problems of the ed schools. Fix the one and the other will follow.

  3. Robert Wright says:

    Allen, that was well put.

    I think there are some good ed programs, but they are quite rare.

    Generally, those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, teach ed courses.

  4. Wayne Martin says:

    > But since ed schools are a supplier to public
    > education the problems of public education
    > become the problems of the ed schools. Fix
    > the one and the other will follow.

    Some time back I was reading the WEB-site of the Chancellor of the CAL State University System. I found a memo from the Trustees which admitted that the CAL State Universities had been a significant contributor to the problems in the California school system in the late 1980s and 1990s by producing teachers who were not as qualified as they should have been.

  5. I swear I post this every time this subject comes up, but here goes:

    the majority of public school teachers in CA graduate from the Cal State system.

    “Because Cal State prepares 55 to 60 percent of the state’s public school teachers, it is in a position to improve that dismal remedial statistic.”
    (source:http://www.highereducation.org/crosstalk/ct0306/news0306-reed.shtml)

    The majority of students entering the Cal State system require remedial education:

    “More than 60 percent of the nearly 40,000 first-time freshmen admitted to the CSU require remedial
    education in English, mathematics or both..”
    (SOurce http://www.calstate.edu/eap/)

    I see a pattern.

  6. Tim from Texas says:

    Since, no school district, nor city, state or federal government has any sort of set k-12 curriculum, no ed.dept.can set a curriculum that fulfills the needs of a prospective teacher.

    It is easy to put the blame on one thing or another, but in my opinion we are all to blame.

    However, most of the blame, I argue must fall on the citizenry in general. Any time an attempt to install a real curriculum, a set a rules, guidelines, or even the steps necessary to get there, myriad of groups jump to the task to find anything any statistic etc. to knock it down.

  7. Thanks Robert. I’d always heard that old nutshell put this way:

    Those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach. Those who can’t teach, administer.

    Wayne, that unnamed Chancelor was wrong. The ed schools are the tail that’s being wagged by the dog.

    I keep pounding on this theme waiting for someone to point out in what particular way I’m utterly wrong and very troubled. So far no one has done me this service so I’ll soldier on.

    What’s the motivations of the people who work in ed schools to strive for excellence? Certainly not to attract the best, brightest students so that the cream of the crop can be collected and channeled to that last vestige of slavery in America, the grad student, there to strive for the greater glory of the prof and the school, busily doing the scut work necessary for real breakthrough research. The smartest, hardest working ed student from the best ed school in the country and the joker who’s only in it for an easy ride will be valued identically when they exit the institution. If you want to make more money you don’t do it by becoming a better teacher but by becoming an administrator.

    The result of that uniformity of value means there’s little selectivity in the job market. One of the important signs of value, rate of pay, is not a consideration in the education field. One certified teacher’s pretty much the same as another from the administrative point of view.

    Absent the ruthless selectivity of the job market extant in other fields which put a differential on the value of a degree dependent, to a certain extent, on the granting institution, why bother trying to achieve greater academic quality? It’s not entirely a rhetorical question since human nature, pride in this case, can sometimes buck the tide of mediocrity but that means achieving excellence is a quest that better be satisfied with internal rewards because there aren’t any external rewards.

    Ed schools don’t set out to do a lousy job, there just isn’t any reward, other then bragging rights, for doing a good job.

    KateC wrote:

    I see a pattern.

    Yeah, but not the right one. A snowball rolling down hill gets bigger because of the snow it’s rolling over. But what’s making it roll? Poorly educated students result in poorly educated teachers. But what’s the underlying cause? What’s the “gravity” that impels toward poorly educating students and teachers?

    Tim from Texas wrote:

    However, most of the blame, I argue must fall on the citizenry in general.

    Yes and no. It’s only been the past decade or so that the inherent inefficiency and inherently poor performance of socialist solutions has been appreciated widely enough to make rejection of them politically possible.

    It just sounds so good when you first hear the idea, that some expert will take responsibility for an onerous but necessary task relieving the citizenry of responsibility for the task. To make it even more attractive, you can quite often stick someone else for the bill. There may even be a golden age where the system really does work as advertised.

    Inevitably though, the golden age goes away, replaced by more forms, larger budgets, more administrative expense and poorer performance. There’s nothing studied about, it’s just the nature of all socialist institutions. That’s a tough lesson to learn but as a nation, and even, maybe, as a specie, we’re snuffling our way blindly toward that realization.

  8. Tim from Texas says:

    Well, I suppose so. However, to use sport’s jargon, a game plan is better than no game plan at all. A game plan, a set curriculum that attempts vigorously from k thru 12 and beyond to cover a-z, allows for closer scrutiny of educational results and educational budgets.

    For an example, an example I think reveals evidence of the downfall of not having a set curriculum, is the textbook situation throughout the nation. Take a look at all texts sold to school districts. They are too big, cover too much, more than any teacher can cover in a year.
    They are also very expensive for that reason. Also it doesn’t make educational sense. This happens ,because there is no curriculum. Text publishers have no choice but to fill the text with everthing, including very unecessary pictures, to make every teacher and school district happy. Of course, the publishers don’t mind. they are making plenty of moooolah. Look at any Glencoe text, one of the biggest sellers, if not the biggest. It’s an outrage.

    No set curriculum is the cause of most of our problems in education.

    Now to get back to sport’s jargon. Other teams all over the world are kicking our patoots k-12 because thay hava a game plan.

  9. Wayne Martin says:

    > The smartest, hardest working ed student from
    > the best ed school in the country and the joker
    > who’s only in it for an easy ride will be valued
    > identically when they exit the institution.

    Another example of how labor unions (which have worked tirelessly to homogenize the working environment to the point that good people lose their jest.

    > If you want to make more money you don’t do
    > it by becoming a better teacher but by becoming
    > an administrator.

    Or you get an MBA, or you start building homes, or you find something to do that makes you happy – just like all of the non-teachers who face the same sort of fate. Why shouldn’t teachers be expected to think through life’s “little problems” just like every one else, and make the same changes, like everyone else?

    > One of the important signs of value,
    > rate of pay, is not a
    > consideration in the education field.
    > One certified teacher’s
    > pretty much the same as another from
    > the administrative
    > point of view.

    Public school Teacher’s salaries have doubled in the past 20 years of so, and will certainly do so in the next twenty. Given the benefits, and the short hours, it’s difficult not to see most teachers paid at a rate that is between $75-$100K a year. We need to consider cost-to-employ numbers, in addition to salary alone.

    > Absent the ruthless selectivity of the
    > job market extant in other
    > fields which put a differential on the
    > value of a degree dependent,
    > to a certain extent, on the granting
    > institution, why bother trying
    > to achieve greater academic quality?

    It’s not entirely a rhetorical question since human nature, pride in
    this case, can sometimes buck the tide of mediocrity but that means
    achieving excellence is a quest that better be satisfied with internal
    rewards because there aren’t any external rewards.

    What? Public school teachers are provided a job for life (if they want it), health care for themselves and family, and a pension for the rest of their lives. A teacher starting at $40,000, will make about $2M (with CPI alone considered). A lifetime pension will bring in another $1M (depending on the individuals lifespan). Healthcare spending is between $5K and $10K there days, adding in another $150-$250K.

    So, how much should society be paying someone who works 6-7 hours a day for 186 days a year, anyway?

    > Ed schools don’t set out to do a lousy job,
    > there just isn’t any
    > reward, other then bragging rights, for
    > doing a good job.

    I wonder if Econ 101 and a course in personal finance would help?

    A lot of people change careers every so often – teachers should consider doing the same too.

  10. Wayne responds:
    >> One of the important signs of value,
    >> rate of pay, is not a
    >> consideration in the education field.
    >> One certified teacher’s
    >> pretty much the same as another from
    >> the administrative
    >> point of view.

    >Public school Teacher’s salaries have
    >doubled in the past 20 years of so,
    >and will certainly do so in the next
    >twenty. Given the benefits, and the
    >short hours, it’s difficult not to
    >see most teachers paid at a rate that
    >is between $75-$100K a year. We need
    >to consider cost-to-employ numbers,
    >in addition to salary alone.

    I think that you miss the point: a grad from a better program isn’t paid any differently by the same employer. A better grad from any program isn’t paid any differently (although they may get different offers from varying places: with deltas in pay scales, benefits and professional settings)

    Ultimately there are some system-level constraints: budget per student vs. class size vs. # of classes vs. teacher/staff ratio & payscales vs. bonus structure

    Too few systems have an internal market for better teachers – either in hiring or promotion

  11. Wayne Martin says:

    > I think that you miss the point: a grad from a
    > better program isn’t paid any differently by the
    > same employer. A better grad from any
    > program isn’t
    > paid any differently (although they may get
    > different offers from varying places: with
    > deltas in pay scales, benefits and
    > professional settings)

    And why should he/she be? People should be paid for the work they for for their current employer, not for their last employer, or student performance (for which the current employer has no real way to gauge the true worth of this work).

    If your suggest that in the future they won’t be paid any more after they have put in a couple of years, then I agree. (How do you spell labor union?)

  12. The majority of students entering the Cal State system require remedial education

    Any student entering the Cal State system that needs remedial education should be automatically disqualified from getting a credential. Any teacher that can’t pass the CBEST in California on at least the second try should be disqualified.

    But that won’t cure the dissemination of disinformation and the politicizing of education in ed schools. Ed schools are tantamount to Marxist re-education camps in that ideology is what they’re pushing. When I left Cal Poly Pomona, the new dean had announced that he didn’t want to hire any more ed instructors/profs that had been K-12 teachers. The dean was (and probably still is) a rabid neo-Marxist diversity monger and victicrat. In fact, the official doctrine at Cal Poly is that whites cannot be good teachers until they deconstruct their whiteness, so who cares about mastery of content?

    However, in the vast darkness of that citadel of nonsense, there were three valuable classes I did take, and those were methods classes taught by real teachers that had been in the trenches or were still in them battling it out on the front lines. They were not leftist/postmodernist propagandists. Hence, the dean’s desire to discard them.

    The gates of academia must be stormed and a new regime put in power if we want teacher ed to be improved at the university level.

  13. Wayne Martin says:

    The following is a link to the CalPoly Department of Education:

    http://www.csupomona.edu/~ceis/academic_prog.htm

    The undergraduate options leave you wondering how much content Ed undergrads acquire in their four years at this place?

  14. Badabing wrote:

    The gates of academia must be stormed and a new regime put in power if we want teacher ed to be improved at the university level.

    No, unfortunately that won’t do it. But it would make a great scene for a horror movie.

  15. Robert Wright says:

    Dang, Allen, are you Joanne writing under another name?

    Your contributions are exceptionally good.

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