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Ed Schools Under Fire

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A growing number of studies suggest that college education schools are generally of poor quality, according to an article in the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Among the charges: education majors have comparatively low college-entrance scores; admissions standards are minimal; education professors are often undistinguished and detached from classrooms; and program requirements, such as student-teaching hours, are wildly inconsistent.

Part of the problem, observers note, is the growing pressure on ed schools to produce ever more graduates to fill the nation’s need for qualified teachers. Another factor may be a general lack of clarity on what sort of preparation today’s teachers need. “We cannot improve these programs until we are clear what we want the profession to look in the 21st century, and we haven’t done that,” said Ohio State Superintendent Susan Tave Zelman.

Even so, a number of initiatives have been launched to improve ed schools’ standards. One Ohio group, for example, is conducting a value-added study designed to track the correlation between teachers’ preparation programs and their performance as educators (as measured by student test scores). The aim is to replicate those programs that are seen as having the greatest impact.

“The good news for Ohioans and others is that there is very rapid progress in trying to use data to drive changes in teacher-preparation programs,” said Tom Lasley, dean of the University of Dayton’s School of Education and Allied Professions.

13 Comments

I attended what is considered one of the rigorous teacher prep schools in Wisconsin and completed 60 graduate credits in 2 years, nearly twice my cohorts accomplishments and they were half my age. What this school, and no other school teaches us when we become teachers is that there are many students that do not want to learn what we have to teach, will try to physically intimidate us while we try to do our job, and may often retaliate outside of school. This a brief sample of what I experienced in my even briefer tenure as a teacher. After two years I decided I did not need a meager salary to be abused by teenagers, I could have that kind of abuse for free, from my own children! Don't shoot the messengers. Colleges of Education do what they can, but until school districts stand up for their employees and stop making their teachers responsible for little Johnny's bad grades, insist that students show respect, and even more so, go to the source, the parents, I'll keep my new day job!

AMEN, Ms. Teacher!!
AMEN!!!

Until the Powers That Be finally recgonize the trauma teachers go through on a daily basis things will not change, no matter how rigorous the educational training.

Until teachers and administrators are treated as (at least) equals with students, test scores will suffer.

Test scores are what they are because students DO NOT CARE. Why? Because their parents DO NOT CARE!

It is

Sorry, my finger hit the return.

It is somewhat a case of getting what you paid for it. Teachers can take their training and make much more in the business world. This is especially true of math and science where the really good teachers are poached by industry.

Pay teachers a professional, competitive salary commensurate with their training and you will have more qialified folks beating down the door at the Ed schools.

I agree that students need high standards for behavior, but little in our culture promotes that expectation. If we look at Rafe who leads the Hobart Shakespeareans or Erin Gruwell of Freedom Writers, we see that teachers can produce classrooms of respect, with incredible dedication and sacrifice. When each was asked if they could produce the same results in other situations, they answered that they didn't know.
Success comes with staying put,being creative, building a classroom culture, and great dedication. We can teach these qualities in education programs and set an example to the rest of our college or university departments.

Julia Bates, Education Facilitator,
St Mary's College of Maryland

I have a feeling that if you did a study to track what happened to teachers who do have excellent grades and are high quality, you'll find that most of them leave within 5 years. As someone else mentioned, especially when they have a background in math or science. I'm sorry but its true. Teaching is currently a life of martyrdom, and there are simply too many options and opportunities to make a lot of money and do good work that contributes to society.
Stop throwing schools of education under the bus! You get what you pay for.

everybody's out of step but the teachers -- the weaknesses of our education system are entirely the fault of social forces outside the teaching profession -- the teachers are victims -- the students and their parents are villains -- HOW "PROFESSIONAL" CAN YOU GET? fritz brace

Seriously? The one Ohio group wants to use data from "teachers’ preparation programs and their performance as educators (as measured by student test scores)" to decide how good a teacher education program is? I teach in college of ed. that specializes in urban education. We try to train our candidates to work with a culturally, cognitively, and linguistically diverse student population. I am moving to an rural university where most of the candidates are white, middle class, and of average to above average intellegence. They expect to teach students just like them. This university hired me because I bring an urban perspective to their teacher education program. Not all teacher education programs have those resources, and not all teachers anticipate teaching students who are so different from themselves.
To think that a teachers' test scores are a judge teachers or their program is faulty logic. It may provide one causal link in a many-banded chain.
Yes, teachers like Rafe and Erin are out there. I work with EXCELLENT veteran teachers everyday who have dedicated their lives to this profession. So, perhaps it is more of a question of asking what colleges of ed can do to solicit the experience of those who have been and remain in the classroom?

We have teachers take classes about teaching and read books about teaching, but very little teacher preparation involves observing other teachers in action.
Would you want a surgeon who only read about surgery? Is this the way surgeons are trained? No! How about football? Don't football players watch tapes of previous games?
Why can't we pay teachers like Rafe Esquith (sp?) to let us film him for a week? Or why can't we pay teachers who work in tough schools to tape the day-to-day nitty gritty of teaching? So we can all look at a lesson and analyze: this worked well, this didn't work so well. Pay these teachers well and make the video as cheap to get as an exercise video off of Netflix.
And where is the communication with teachers in other countries? Are you telling me that teachers in Israel haven't had to deal with students who are under stress? What about in countries like England and Ireland where they are having a lot of immigration? What have they figured out, what have they learned? What about Singapore, where the math book costs $5 and goes into problem solving in depth instead of the hodgepodge of trivia and photos of the Grand Canyon like we get in the $80 textbooks here?
Finally, when are we going to make teaching a profession and not just a vocation taken on mostly by women who are expected to "sacrifice" all the time?

I agree that until teachers get respect from the students and their PARENTS things are not going to improve. I teach 3-5 year old children in Head Start and a lot of these children have no interest in learning - where do they get this attitude? From their parents. Almost immediately we can see who's parents care and who's don't. Young children's minds are supposed to be sponges, but not if the parents don't show an interest in what they ar learning.

As a parent, I have found many in the current crop of teachers become teachers strictly for the "summers off" perk. They are the bottom rungs of their high school graduating class and have taken only the minimal amount of classes to graduate. Teachers use to be the top 10% of their high school graduation classes and took a variety of classwork to be as well rounded for their students as possible.

The current crop of teachers do not dress as professionals, act accordingly, nor view their jobs as a professional. Too many that I have been in contact with do not begin their class planning until the first week that school starts. This is what the June, July, and August months are to be used for. Reading files, planning programs, and organizing the school year seems to be an afterthought.

Review the curriculum of these teaching schools. Most of what I have seen is 80% psychology with 20% practical teaching application. Add to that the student teaching requirement of years past is now an elective. Mix in the lack of mentoring of the older established teachers with the new teachers and you get burnout.

I have met too many teachers who thought that the children were equal to them. Rather than pulling the child up to the adults level, teachers today lower themselves to their students level. That is unprofessional and leaves little respect for teacher, parent, and student.

I agree with many of the comments so far. I taught in a teacher education MAT program for eight years (1997-2005), and I supervised many student teachers as they did their practica and longer student teaching experiences. Too many of my students (teachers-to-be) did have lower college-entrance scores and low undergraduate grades, but because our college/program needed students, they admitted them anyway. Besides, many schools of education are the ‘bread and butter’ of their colleges, supporting smaller academic programs whose enrollments are smaller; so, it’s not uncommon for there to be lower entrance standards in order to draw more paying students in ed schools. This trend has to be supported by college administrators (and eventually the general public) because college leaders set entrance standards and put pressure on ed school directors to increase enrollments and graduates. I can only assume that administrators’ and the public’s underlying (highly erroneous) assumption is that people who are going to become teachers don’t need to be that high quality academically or intellectually; after all, they are not going to be surgeons or Wall Street financiers, or even influential leaders in business, science, or politics, so, why push high intellectual/academic standards? Consequently, I was not the only education professor under pressure to lower academic standards to pass lower quality work or overlook deficiencies in academic talent, skills or desire to excel. Another erroneous argument I heard, even from students, was that people who want to teach just need to love kids; besides, all they’ll be doing is teaching kids. How much respect and how high the standards we put on those who teach children reflects how much respect and how high the expectations we have of our children and what it takes to rear them. We have not decided as a nation that all of our children are more than just kids and that they are the future of our democratic way of life. What will it take for Americans to finally decide that our children need and deserve teachers/guardians/advocates of the highest caliber—well supported financially and with our high social and political esteem?
I have to say that I also had students who were eager to improve their own academic/intellectual abilities and performance so that they could be excellent, inspiring and efficacious teachers. Some wanted to teach in difficult inner city or rural schools so that they could make a difference and give underprivileged children a fair, fighting chance in this world that is filled with not only love but hate and all kinds of ‘ism’s (racism, sexism, classism, is-ism, etc.). I wish we had had more student teachers like them, but just as fervently, I wish we had a culture that better supported (financially and socially) such teachers and the teaching profession in general. I worked in a school in Germany where the culture strongly supported the idea that the best educated and the best paid professionals in the social service field would be teachers and social workers. Teachers were highly admired and paid just as much as doctors and lawyers, because Germans learned the hard way that only a well educated, enlightened citizenry could support a dynamic democratic government and society. (They remember all too well that Adolf Hitler was democratically elected by an easily swayed electorate.) So, Germany’s goal has been to prepare the best teachers who are capable of teaching the next generation not only to be knowledge learners who can pass standardized tests but to be capable of independent, creative and critical thought and to have well developed skills in social and emotional intelligence. If the Germans can make this their goal for the teaching profession, why can’t Americans, who claim to be longest surviving and most powerful democracy in the history of humanity?

Where are all of you from that you report such poor responses to your teaching? My child is well behaved and respectful towards teachers, he needs a good one too which come far and few between. He wants to learn.


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