What do people think of teacher prep?

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Last week, the Wall Street Journal published a story about our effort to review teacher prep. In the comment section below the story, we saw a few consistent themes, including that:

  1. Teacher prep is held in low regard; and
  2. Many teachers wish their teacher prep had been more rigorous and relevant

One commenter wrote, "Schools of Education have been the focus of hilarity for decades, which would be completely appropriate except the damage they've done to our schools and our kids is anything but funny."

Granted, people who leave comments on wsj.com are hardly representative of the public at large, but these same sentiments have been expressed widely for decades. In The Miseducation of American Teachers, James D. Koerner wrote, "I do not see how any observer, having made such visits to a large number of institutions, could fail to conclude that Education courses fully deserve their ill repute."

Koerner's book was first published in 1963.

Given this long history of disrepute, teacher prep can only benefit from external evaluation—a process that can show the public that not all teacher prep is as deficient as they would believe. Unfortunately, when programs object to being analyzed, they end up reinforcing the public view that teacher prep is out of touch. The public's sense of urgency regarding the achievement gap, or the student dropout rate, doesn't seem to be shared by higher-ed, and that disconnect is disconcerting.

For the 1.5 million students who will get a new teacher this fall and every fall thereafter, the stakes are too high for this to be yet another example of an us vs. them ed reform debate. Growth often means growing pains, but we can be better than what we are now—and our students deserve our dedication to that end.