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Duncan: Teacher Preparation Lacks Resources, Focus

So reports my colleague Andrew Ujifusa, who's covering the latest from the Council of Chief State School Officers' legislative conference.

U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan talked with the state supes on March 23 about a lot of different things, including the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Improving teacher prep was one area in which he said there hadn't been enough progress.

Here's the key paragraph from Andrew's reporting:

"The secretary also discussed resources as they relate to teacher preparation, an area where Duncan said he would give himself a 'low grade' in terms of progress made in improving the teacher pipelines. While he said more resources should be dedicated to teacher preparation, he also indicated that too much of the focus in teacher-preparation programs has been on historical or relatively esoteric knowledge, and not on how to actually prepare people to teach in classrooms." 

Remember, the feds have a proposed regulation that would seek to tighten up the federal requirements for prepration programs. Over 4,000 comments, mostly negative, were submitted in response—so I'd wager that many teacher-educators won't like hearing that Duncan thinks the programs need to do better.

In the meantime, the entire teacher-preparation field has been engaged in some quite heated debates over the last few weeks over accountability. One association for teachers' colleges recently took a whack at the field's new accreditor, for instance. And two well-known education deans, Robert Pianta of the University of Virginia and Michael Feuer of George Washington University, recently engaged in a battle of the op-ed pages over the Education Department's proposals. 

Hang in there, everyone—this is a debate that I suspect we'll continue to see for some time.


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