A victory for transparency

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NCTQ's Teacher Prep Review has received broad support from state chiefs, district superintendents and children's, civil rights, and minority advocacy groups across the country, all committed to improving the nation's public education system and the teaching profession.

Still, many teacher prep programs continue to block access to basic course materials such as syllabi and student teaching handbooks.

Yesterday, a court in Minnesota delivered a summary judgment ordering the Minnesota State Colleges and University system to deliver the documents for which we asked in our open records ("sunshine") request for our Teacher Prep Review. One line from the decision is particularly noteworthy: "Any way this case is analyzed, NCTQ is entitled to the syllabi copies it seeks."

At the heart of our Teacher Prep Review is a simple idea: the more information that aspiring teachers, district and school leaders, teacher educators and the public at large have about the programs producing classroom-ready teachers, the better all teacher training programs will be.

In our effort to produce the first comprehensive review of U.S. teacher prep, we've faced a number of challenges -- perhaps the most serious of which has been the argument made by some universities that federal copyright law makes it illegal for public institutions publicly approved to prepare public school teachers to make public documents that describe the training they provide.

You can read the full decision here.

While we hope this decision proves persuasive to other institutions we are having to take to court in other states, including the University of Minnesota system, we are also pursuing other strategies to get the material we need, particularly from resistant privates, which need not comply with an open records request. We have launched our "Right to Know" ad campaign, appealing to students to help by providing us with the course materials we seek. Student groups on two campuses have organized to take action, insisting that faculty share their syllabi with anyone who wants to view them, including the common sense notion that students should be able to view a syllabus before signing up for a course. Read more.