Uncanny parallels in professional training

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Just over 100 years ago a devastating critique of the nation's medical schools proved to be instrumental in their transformation. The parallels between what med schools were like in 1910 and what ed schools are like now are uncanny — as we were recently reminded when a NCTQ analyst dusted off our volume on Abraham Flexner's famous "Medical Education in the United States and Canada" and pointed out some of them:

In 1910, Flexner observed that med schools were over-producing the number of new doctors that the country actually needed, just as fewer than half of the newly minted teachers produced by ed schools get hired each year. 

In 1910, the universities that housed med schools didn't view it as their responsibility to uphold any standards, just as most universities now take a hands-off approach to their ed schools despite the fact that administrators privately hold them in low regard. (Of course, mum's the word in public.)  

In 1910, med schools claimed that poor med schools were necessary to serve the "poor boy," just as ed schools now protect programs with low entrance standards as necessary to serve the prospective teacher with substandard credentials.

Our hope that through greater transparency these parallels in circumstances will be matched by parallels in effects motivates our National Review of Teacher Preparation Programs.

But one thing that won't be paralleled is the bluntness of the Flexner report's findings.  How's this for a conclusion about Illinois medical education: "The city of Chicago is in respect to medical education the plague spot of the country."  And we think that our reports are hard-hitting!  

Julie Greenberg