Why Not Go There?

Leaders of America’s teachers colleges are working on a new campaign to highlight and improve teacher training. American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education held an event at the National Press Club yesterday to discuss the organization’s ideas. According to an article by Jennifer Epstein in Inside Higher Ed:

In the first of several news conferences scheduled to be held throughout the spring at the National Press Club, panelists stressed the importance of what’s being called clinical training, a more robust in-school teaching and learning option than the student teaching of yore. “You can’t learn to swim on the sidewalk and you can’t learn to teach outside the classroom,” said Sharon Feiman-Nemser, a professor of Jewish education at Brandeis University who has for decades studied how teachers learn.

Hmm, nice sound bite. It’s worth pointing out, however, that no one ever needed to learn how to walk on a sidewalk. The trouble is that while there appears to be something very wrong with the American teaching profession, it’s not really clear that there’s anything the teachers colleges can do to help. Or, as Elizabeth Green pointed out in a story she wrote for the New York Times Magazine earlier this month, while:

The Obama administration has also signaled its hopes by doubling the budget for teacher training in the 2011 budget to $235 million. [Many] education experts look skeptically upon teacher training. …Study after study shows that teachers who once boosted student test scores are very likely to do so in the future, no research… has shown a teacher-training program to boost student achievement.

But then, as Arthur Levine (former president of Columbia University’s Teachers College) said: “There’s no research that indicates that any other provider is any better than universities, so why not go there?”

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer