Saturday, September 24, 2011


I have been preparing future teachers for forty two years and have belatedly concluded that I'm in the wrong line of work. Absolutely no one of influence gives a crap if this job is done well or not.

When I began my career I chose to teach at a Catholic college run by a religious order allegedly devoted to teaching. I reasoned that this bode well for teacher education at the school. Unfortunately, I failed to adequately consider that it was a liberal arts school. In that environment the education department was Thursday's child. And filling our classrooms with too many marginally committed halfwits generated more tuition than allowing us to restrict entry in the same way as any professional school does as a matter of course.

Nearly half a century later the Education Department has won some credibility. But the resources we have to work with are embarrassing. Most of the revenue we generate disappeared into the general fund. Proportionately little is reinvested in properly equipping our programs. Consequently, I teach in a classroom equipped in exactly the same way my first grade class was in 1946 except the desks are bigger.) It lacks even a bulletin board. Imagine teaching in a medical school lacking every feature of modern medical practice. Well I teach in the equivalent.

I really shouldn't fault the college though. They would be foolish to invest more heavily in teacher education than their competitors. Besides, few give a damn about teacher preparation to begin with.

This indifference is aggravated by meddlesome state education officials who, without any meaningful consultation, seek to idiot proof the process. For instance, they mandate literally hundreds of provisions that must be met before a college can secure middle school teacher program approval.  What is the result?
It's as if some crazed bureaucrat with delusions of grandeur was given several reams of paper, locked in an office and given the following instructions, "We are dealing with nuckle heads who haven't a clue about preparing teachers. Idiot proof the process by creating hundreds of requirements that leave them no latitude whatsoever."

You might think, "Well, at least they are getting tough." Oh yeah? Then why, at the same time are these half-wits  also creating pathetically easy "alternative routes" into teaching at the same time?

Oh, and lets nor forget President Obama and his totally unqualified Secretary of Education. When it comes to teacher preparation the two of them just jumped down the rabbit hole with Alice. How so? They recently decided to classify teacher interns as "highly qualified teachers." Why would they do a crazy thing like that? So that states like California, who use hundreds of interns to fill classrooms in their educational Calcuttas meet the No Child Left Behind requirement that all teachers be "highly qualified." Surely this is the first time in human history that interns have officially been declared "highly qualified." It's 1984 all over again!. War is peace! Love is Hate! and Interns are Highly Qualified." What a joke!

If I could start my career over I would choose something the American people really care about. Perhaps I should have learned how to make napalm stick more tenaciously to babies, or something of the sort. The nation has long been eager to invest in that sort of thing. But like I said at the beginning, absolutely no one of influence gives a crap if teacher preparation is done well or not.

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Alissa Josephine Hope said...

This is great

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