June 18, 2013

"The vast majority of the 1,430 education programs that prepare the nation’s K-12 teachers are mediocre..."

"... according to a first-ever ranking that immediately touched off a firestorm."

68 comments:

Paco Wové said...

Well, duh.

John Lynch said...

Can we admit that teaching children doesn't require an elite education?

If it did, there would never be enough teachers.

Icepick said...

“We don’t know how to prepare teachers,” said Arthur Levine, former president of Teachers College at Columbia University and author of a scathing critique of teacher preparation. “We can’t decide whether it’s a craft or a profession. Do you need a lot of education as you would in a profession, or do you need a little bit and then learn on the job, like a craft? I don’t know of any other profession that’s so uncertain about how to educate their professionals.”

Don't know how to prepare teachers? And yet home schooling 'religious nuts' seem to have figured out how to do it.

I just thank God that we have thrown so much money at this problem only to realize that the people in charge have no clue what the fuck they're doing. I mean, we did it for the children, so it must have been money and time well spent, right?

Icepick said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gahrie said...

Teachers have been complaining about these things for years.


Mine spent all of its time on theory, (I "studied" Piaget in all but one of my education classes) and political correctness.

There was almost no time spent on classroom skills.

Phil 3:14 said...

Mediocre = average.

This can be said for most anything (I.e. Bell curve)

Can't we involve the Lake Wobegone rule or something?

Phil 3:14 said...

All kids are special.

All teachers are special.

Its all special education.

Icepick said...

All kids are special.

All teachers are special.

Its all special education.


Thank you, Church Lady!

Jay said...

I don’t know of any other profession that’s so uncertain about how to educate their professionals.”

---
Yeah, well there also isn't another profession* where once you get in the door and slug out 5 years you're un-fireable.

Gee, maybe one is related to another.

*(Note: the same is for federal gov't employees but sitting at a desk at the Dept of Education surfing the Web isn't a "profession")

gerry said...

THEY NEED MORE MONEY.

Right?

John Lynch said...

There's a difference between the ability to absorb knowledge and the ability to convey it to others.

The last thing we need to do is produce more university professors to teach young people. Teachers don't do research.

Fritz said...

Did they think all education happened in Lake Woebegone, where all the teachers are above average, too?

costofcollege said...

This is no surprise to most observers of ed schools.  From an Obama advisor:  “teaching is not yet a profession”.  And from his secretary of education:  “By almost any standard, many if not most of the nation’s 1,450 schools, colleges, and departments of education are doing a mediocre job of preparing teachers ...”

Social justice often trumps academics in training teachers.  This is assured by education activists like Bill Ayers, who recently served as the vice-president of the curriculum division of AERA.

Ignorance is Bliss said...

Jay said...

Yeah, well there also isn't another profession* where once you get in the door and slug out 5 years you're un-fireable.


Around here it is 3 years.

Jay said...

Ignorance is Bliss,

Even better!

Granting tenure allows these brave teachers to stand up to bullying school boards (for the children, of course) and stuff!

damikesc said...

Where is the news? That the entire Education Dept in most colleges is a joke is not a new thing. Heck, I knew football players who laughed at the easy ride Education majors got.

costofcollege said...

If you want a high GPA in college, you might consider majoring in education.

In one example from a large state university the average grade for education courses is a full letter higher than those from the math, science, humanities, and social studies departments.

Real American said...

because it's all multi-culti social justice blame whitey pro-union indoctrination. they literally force you to alter your beliefs just to get ahead. if you don't, they bounce you.

Icepick said...

The topic has gained urgency, with new research that shows teacher quality is the single most important factor inside a classroom that affects student learning. As baby boomers retire, classrooms increasingly have newly minted teachers at the helm.

Like the baby boomer teachers were all that good?

More importantly, I'm pretty sure the MOST important factor in a classroom that affects student learning is the quality of the students. If you've got a bunch of Einsteins, Newtons and Feynmans they're going to learn unless the teacher spends all day beating them on the head with sticks. You get a bunch of students named after the drugs or alcohol their parents were using when the students were conceived and it doesn't matter if the TEACHERS are a bunch of Einsteins, Newtons and Feynmans.

Icepick said...

Amy Grelck, 26, thought she was ready to teach after graduating from the education program at Illinois Wesleyan University in 2009. Then she stepped into a fifth-grade classroom.

“I was in shock, really,” said Grelck, whose undergraduate semester as a student teacher in an affluent school did not prepare her for her first full-time job teaching in a high-poverty classroom in Chambord, Ill. “I really loved the [university] program, while I was in it. But I really felt like I needed more of the realities of teaching. I had quite a bit of low-achieving, struggling students that I didn’t know what to do with.”

Grelck was faced with a litany of things she didn’t know: How to group kids by ability and teach them math simultaneously; how to manage behavioral problems; how to use data, such as her students’ test scores, to tweak her instruction.


See my previous comment. Teaching some nice classroom full of students from around a university isn't exactly a tough assignment. Down in the 'hood, however ....

...

It's very easy, folks. If one wants better educational results, the most important thing one can do is get better students. Naturally, the nation is set upon a course to bring in more bad students. So how good or bad the education colleges are or will be is completely irrelevant.

Mitchell the Bat said...

The solution is to give every student the teacher's edition, the textbook with the answers in the back.

Mogget said...

"I had quite a bit of low-achieving, struggling students that I didn’t know what to do with.”

Based on that sentence, I bet this young lady had college professors who thought much the same of her verbal skills.

Toby said...

How could the majority be mediocre? If you divide the programs by quintile, a pretty common way to organize rankings, only 20% are going to be mediocre.

The Drill SGT said...

Icepick said...
Like the baby boomer teachers were all that good?


The irony is that the teachers of the baby boomers were very good. My mother was one. The reason of course was that there were really only three professions welcoming to women at that time, teaching, nursing and social work. And there were a fair number of GI Bill male Vets teaching. Long before they were scared out of the classroom by PC and the predator labels.

Now low performing students attend low performing schools of education and the teaching result is low performing students. But the cost is 10 times higher than 50 years ago.

carrie said...

It seems to me that teacher education needs to be revamped just like legal education. Do Pre-k to 5th grade teachers really need 4 year college degrees? It seems to me that a 2 year degree plus an internship would work for those grades. My Mom was a teacher and when she went to teachers' college in the 1930s they had a one year program for a rural school teachers (one-room school houses grades 1-8) and a two year program for an in-town teacher for any grade.

Fernandinande said...

I have a PhD in bicycle riding.

cubanbob said...

It's taken the left this long to see the obvious? Until the welfare state is radically reformed to the point of the Fear Of God in not screwing up is instilled in the parent and the kids there is no incentive to actually get educated. Parent is the problem. Most of the poor schools are 'educating' kids raised by a single parent and that parent is almost always dependend on government aid. When we stop subsidizing social pathology we will have far less of it.

jimbino said...

One great way to keep the best and brightest from ever teaching is to compel them to attend education classes filled with mediocre colleagues at a mediocre school.

I once knew a woman, no doubt one of many, who with PhD taught education classes. When she moved to a new state because of hubby's job transfer, she had to take the very education classes she had taught for years in order to qualify to teach at a high school!

I escaped this nonsense by taking my first teaching job in Germany, where I taught grade 9-12 physics in German--without ever having taken an education class!

Sending a kid to an Amerikan public school is child abuse by another name.

Bob said...

And here I thought it was low teacher pay that was holding down student achievement. Now we find out we were paying for what we were getting.

Bob said...

And here I thought it was low teacher pay that was holding down student achievement. Now we find out we were paying for what we were getting.

Freeman Hunt said...

Unless someone is planning to study education theory, shouldn't teaching be a two year, skill-based degree?

TosaGuy said...

I have a degree in secondary education. I took it because I was a history major and needed something to fall back on. The program was laughably easy and 3/4 of the people were the folks in college who weren't good at anything else. The instructors were high school teacher burnouts who moved into a cushy, high-paying gig. Perhaps the least engaging classroom environments I had encountered.

Fortunately, I had taught in the military and was paired with a sink-or-swim, old-school history teacher for my student teaching, otherwise those three semesters would have been a complete waste of time.

During the student-teaching semester we would all have to attend some evening classes to compare experiences. The overly eager young women who diligently applied the theory we had "learned" in class were basically in tears because it was failing miserably.

SJ said...

When the headline says "mediocre", I ask: mediocre relative to what?

with new research that shows teacher quality is the single most important factor inside a classroom that affects student learning.

Aside from the fact that a study can claim to show such, and still be wrong...what is the biggest factor outside of the classroom that affects student learning?

Does that factor swamp any inside-the-classroom factors?

Achilles said...

Privatize education.

Once this is done schools will compete for students and parents will be the target audience. Will there be schiesters and frauds and incompetents? Sure, but not as many as we have now. And I will be able to put my kid in a new school if need be.

Freeman Hunt said...

I agree with Carrie.

TosaGuy said...

" If you've got a bunch of Einsteins, Newtons and Feynmans they're going to learn unless the teacher spends all day beating them on the head with sticks."

Yep....just like Phil Jackson would not be a Hall of Fame coach if he had regular NBA talent instead of Michael Jordan and Kobe Bryant.

edutcher said...

They can't make change without a calculator.

PS Agree with Drill. Our parents made sure as many as possible were good.

TosaGuy said...

"It seems to me that teacher education needs to be revamped just like legal education. Do Pre-k to 5th grade teachers really need 4 year college degrees? It seems to me that a 2 year degree plus an internship would work for those grades. My Mom was a teacher and when she went to teachers' college in the 1930s they had a one year program for a rural school teachers (one-room school houses grades 1-8) and a two year program for an in-town teacher for any grade."

Until 1970 when the UW system killed it, most WI teachers were trained in a 2-year county normal school that basically put their students in classrooms under varying degrees of supervision from day 1. The state had that backbone of teachers for several decades thereafter, but now virtually all are retired along with their expertise and influence on younger faculty.

elkh1 said...

Paco Wové said...
Well, duh.

Same sentiment, without "well".

Peter said...

we'd get better teachers if we could just close all the schools of education.

Require high school teachers to have a B.A. or B.S. in whatever they are going to teach. Accept any B.A. or B.S. for K-8. Just keep anyone with just a degree in education out of the classroom.

Of course, they still need to have an aptitude and attitude for teaching. Unfortunately these are not things which can be taught; Boards of Ed. will just have to figure out how to test for these.

edutcher said...

costofcollege said...

Social justice often trumps academics in training teachers. This is assured by education activists like Bill Ayers, who recently served as the vice-president of the curriculum division of AERA.

Thank you for reminding everyone how that sack of slime is still trying to destroy this country.

That's why he gave us

Barack Hussein Obama mmm, mmm, mmm.

Uncle Pavian said...

The preferred alternative to having the majority of the programs being mediocre is to have them all above average.

Uncle Pavian said...

The preferred alternative to having the majority of the programs being mediocre is to have them all above average.

Icepick said...

How could the majority be mediocre? If you divide the programs by quintile, a pretty common way to organize rankings, only 20% are going to be mediocre.

That's true if you're applying a curve. But if you are taking some sort of objective measure, it is possible for a majority to be sub-par.

Example, most people that know how to play chess are absolutely horrible by any measure of competency, because they essentially only understand the basic rules of the game. Just about every regular tournament player, even those with low ratings in the chess world, will destroy pretty much all the rest of them without effort.

Or consider that most people would be terrible at the shot put.

Considering the intellectual realm, most people are so bad at Calculus that they don't even know what it is. Thus the average calculus skills of the world population is actually very poor.

The trick, of course, is to come up with objective or absolute standards.

ndspinelli said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MayBee said...

I agree with Freeman and Carrie, especially for elementary school teachers. We certainly don't need to encourage masters degrees.

Tom G said...

I'm not a teacher but I am a parent, a proud parent of two very accomplished college educated daughters.

Our girls attended school in a rural area in central Kentucky. We were warned that the school system was substandard and were encouraged to enroll them in private school. The private schools were too expensive for us and too far away from our place of work so we opted to give the local school system a shot.

While we did have some issues with the school system at times, our kids thrived and entered college well prepared. Much credit goes to their mother who was involved and the family dynamic that valued education, reading, etc..

The problems we saw were many - poorly prepared young teachers who are "thrown into the deep end" with little practical training for dealing with behavior problems and parents who don't care. Veteran teachers who are going through the motions and counting down the days to retirement. And a bloated administration that has little motivation or skill in management.

Young teachers in my view should be offered a residency type program or internship to help them get their feet wet before turning them loose in the classroom. I pity the young graduate venturing into class so poorly prepared for what they're about to face.

The teachers unions are a huge obstacle as well. First in, first out, is incredibly stupid just for starters.

Jonathan Silber said...

The schools of education are bad and so are their students, who rank at the bottom of the barrel when it comes to academic achievement.

The sorry facts are documented by Thomas Sowell in Inside American Education.




damikesc said...

How could the majority be mediocre? If you divide the programs by quintile, a pretty common way to organize rankings, only 20% are going to be mediocre.

Only in comparison to one another. 1000 people can play basketball. If you compare them to one another, you're correct.

Compare them to Lebron James and you'd have almost nobody being better than sub-par.

Require high school teachers to have a B.A. or B.S. in whatever they are going to teach. Accept any B.A. or B.S. for K-8. Just keep anyone with just a degree in education out of the classroom.

I think Education would be a worthwhile minor --- but only if it really is ONLY actual practical classroom info and not the useless theoretical bullshit that have fucked up schools for decades.

Edgehopper said...

My sister is currently in a one year elementary education post-grad program at University of Rochester (not reviewed in the linked report). She had to do such a program to teach elementary education, as her undergrad didn't offer an education major (she was a behavioral neuroscience major at Lehigh). At least her undergrad education classes included some student teaching. From what she tells me, the highlights of her first few weeks of classes were a special ed class pushing the idea that separate special ed classes is as bad as racial segregation, and making childish art projects.

Fortunately, she's kept an independent enough mind to see it as nonsense, so I'm sure she'll be a great teacher once she finishes jumping through the hoops. Her fellow students, on the other hand...

elkh1 said...

John Lynch said...
"Can we admit that teaching children doesn't require an elite education?"

More like "doesn't require much education".

Mediocre education for mediocre teachers. Smart people cannot stomach the inane teaching theories of the day.

The first thing to do to improve our education system is to get rid of the teachers unions which would rather protect incompetent teachers than teach the students: rubber rooms... They are political shills, not professionals: ugly protests e.g. Scott Walker recall protests.

Professionals don't do street protests. They lose their self-respect for yelling and screaming stupid slogans.

Incompetent professionals lose their jobs, incompetent teachers don't. Thus, teachers are not professionals.

Come to think of it, incompetent craftsmen lose their jobs too.

The education system can only be run as a segregation system: segregate those students who want to learn from those who want to fool around disturbing other students; segregate the fast learners from the rest; segregate teachers: the enthused from the time-servers: it is demoralizing that young enthused teachers are the first to let go, old lackluster time-servers remain. In other professions, the enthusiastic go-getters who get the job done, get ahead. Another symptom that teaching is not a profession.

ken in sc said...

I originally worked on an education degree in the 60s, but I ended up with a business degree and went into the Air Force. After 24 years in the AF, I decided I wanted to teach. I went back to school for a refresher program. I became an Education Specialist, which is one step above a masters and is about the same as an ABD. The second time around, I found teacher education to be almost a total farce. They had credit courses in decorating bulletin boards.

However, this needs to be said. The state of public education today is partly a result of women' s lib. In the 50s and 60s, we had great teachers because the only thing an intelligent, educated woman could do was be a teacher or a nurse. Also, all the male teachers were military veterans.

ken in sc said...

Those that can do.
Those that can't teach.
Those that can't teach teach teachers.

MadisonMan said...

Those that can't teach teach teachers.

I thought it was Those who can't teach teach gym.

The problem is that Unions collude with Universities to make advancement in teaching require further University degrees. I'm not sure why School Districts and Unions buy what the Universities are selling. It seems like nonsense to me.

Henry said...

And they were in the '50s too, when my mom got her teaching degree.

And contra the hand-wringing about not knowing how to train teachers, we know exactly how to train teachers. You make sure they have mastered their subject, then you drill them in classroom management.

fivewheels said...

P.J. O'Rourke said it best, as he often does: "Anybody who doesn't know what's wrong with education never screwed an el-ed major."

When I was in college, I took a class in Children's Literature for an English requirement because I thought the reading list would be easy. It was me, one other guy who was a physics major, and 15 attractive and not-too-bright young women. The dumbest I'd run into at that fine university. Girls who couldn't tell the difference between satire and a real critique of Winnie the Pooh. (And thus were quite incapable of figuring out if you were lying to them.)

It was glorious.

fivewheels said...

I remember talking to the physics major about Alice falling down the rabbit hole to Wonderland, and if the earth were hollow what would the gravity be like near the center?

I remember the girls talking about whether Rabbit from Winnie the Pooh was a fascist. True story.

exhelodrvr1 said...

Being able to control a classroom and loving the job are the most important part of being a good teacher.

elkh1 said...

MadisonMan said...
"I'm not sure why School Districts and Unions buy what the Universities are selling. It seems like nonsense to me."

...buy with our money.
I scratch yours, you scratch mine.

A farcical degree from a farcical college gives a raise of real tax payers' money to a farcical teacher who will pay a real union membership due to a real union who will campaign contribute to real crooked politicians who will spend more taxpayers' real money to enrich everyone except the fleeced taxpayers and their brain washed learned nothing kids.

RonF said...

The smart kids who are real good at math and science go into engineering or science. The ones who can't hack the math go into business. My son started at Enormous State University's engineering school with 850 of his fellow classmates. When he walked up to the stage 5 years later to get his engineering degree, he was joined by 250 of his fellow classmates.

That in turn crowds out the lower achieving students who started out in business. Those go into education, along with the ones who started in education in the first place.

RonF said...

"Of course, they still need to have an aptitude and attitude for teaching. Unfortunately these are not things which can be taught; Boards of Ed. will just have to figure out how to test for these."

What BoE's need to do is to be a LOT more aggressive in dumping new teachers before they get tenure. What some school districts are doing these days is firing ALL teachers after their 3rd year so that none of them get tenure.

RonF said...

Fivewheels:

In a hollow sphere the force of gravity is 0 anywhere inside the sphere. The pull of gravity from all the different points in the sphere cancel each other out.

I learned that in my first physics class on the banks of the River Charles. Here's a reference:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shell_theorem

MadisonMan said...

RonF, your assumption (maybe it's a good one) is that mass is distributed evenly around the Globe. Certainly there is a center of mass of the Earth, and at that point gravitational attraction from the Earth is zero (there would still be gravitational pull from Luna and Sol and all the rest).

fivewheels said...

Yup, that's what he told me.

The other discussion ran toward "so Winnie the Pooh should be kept away from children."

Crunchy Frog said...

I remember the shitstorm of controversy around the LAUSD when the mandate came down that teachers had to pass a HS proficiency test (CSET) in the subjects they were teaching.

Apparently UTLA didn't think it necessary that an algebra teacher (for example) should actually know algebra in order to teach it. Who'da thunk it?

elkh1 said...

MadisonMan said...
RonF, your assumption (maybe it's a good one) is that mass is distributed evenly around the Globe

I think the hollow sphere is what's left of a student's head after more than 12 years of brain washing.

Michael said...

The vast majority...are mediocre.

Isn't that true by definition?

getchauffeured said...

Of course, they still need to have an aptitude and attitude for teaching. Unfortunately these are not things which can be taught; Boards of Ed. will just have to figure out how to test for these.
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