Teaching the Teachers: Improving Ed Schools

In recent weeks, the topic of teacher education has been picking up steam. After spending years (or decades) focused on how to improve student achievement, many are now starting to see that real improvement can’t happen until we fundamentally address how prospective educators are prepared and supported for their roles as teachers of record.

This week, Education Week’s Stephen Sawchuk offers up a terrific collection of stories examining the issues, including:

States Slow to Close Faltering Teacher Ed. Programs, which looks at how our national quest for improved education and improved educational outcomes hasn’t quite reached those overseeing our ed schools;

Disparate Teacher-Prep Curricula Complicate Accountability Efforts, which demonstrates the continued challenges in demanding effective teacher ed efforts; and

N.Y. College’s Experiences Shows Conflicts Around Ed. School Closures, which shows how all of these policy debates play out, or fail to, in the real world.

All three pieces are worth the read, particularly the examination of Mercy College in Dobbs Ferry, NY. Anyone who has been in higher ed knows that the tale told by Sawchuk there is similar to many others around the nation.

In his States Slow piece, Sawchuk quotes Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson Foundation and President Emeritus of Teachers College Columbia University, on the current state of the American ed school. Levine rightly notes: “I haven’t visited a state where the political leaders are enthusiastic about the quality of ed. schools. They have the capacity to do a reauthorization of their existing programs, and they haven’t done it.”

We all seem to be good at pointing out the problems. It’s what we do with the capacity (and power) to improve that is the ultimate measure. This series from Sawchuk may very well serve as the canary in the coal mine, with meaningful “reform” coming to teacher education in the near future.

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