By Victor Skinner
WASHINGTON, D.C. – A recently published report on the dismal state of the nation’s teacher colleges is drawing a lot of well-deserved attention and support.
The National Council on Teacher Quality’s report concludes that the “mediocrity” of teacher training programs in U.S. colleges and universities – perpetuated by low admissions standards and inadequate student teaching experiences – is resulting in poorly prepared and ineffective educators in the classroom.
The study looked at 1,200 programs and just four received top ratings.
The Washington Post recently published an editorial in support of the report and its crucial message.
“The council’s methodology was developed over eight years, relying on a review of course descriptions, syllabuses, student-teacher observation instruments and other materials. It came under immediate attack as incomplete and inaccurate from institutions of higher education,” according to the Post.
“Such criticism is rich considering that many of these same institutions fought tooth and nail to keep materials from researchers. ‘Tremendously uncooperative’ is how Kate Walsh, president of the council, described many institutions, which refused to share textbooks or course description for the study.
“The council had to file open-records requests; many private institutions that are not subject to Freedom of Information requirements opted out. What are they trying to hide?”
The answer is simple: those running the nation’s teacher training programs don’t want the public to know how poorly they prepare educators for the classroom. They don’t want prospective students to realize what a raw deal they’re actually getting for their money. They don’t want students to be able to distinguish bad teacher colleges from good ones.
From the perspective of those defending the status quo, the issue is about saving face and their jobs. It’s about their own self interests, not improving education.
That’s why the study is so critical, and why the National Council on Teacher Quality should persevere in its annual attempt to rank teacher colleges that don’t want to be ranked.
As the Post put it, “Those who believe – as we do – that teachers should be viewed and treated as professionals should welcome a study that might help them get the training demanded by the hard jobs they do.”