Education Secretary Arne Duncan, in prepared remarks circulating in advance of a speech Thursday, accuses many of the nation’s schools of education of doing “a mediocre job of preparing teachers for the realities of the 21st-century classroom.”
My colleague Nick Anderson, on the national education beat, and I found the advance text a meaty read.
Duncan’s speech, to be delivered at Columbia University, goes further than any other I can remember from an education secretary in ripping into the failure of education schools to ready teachers for the challenges of the day, particularly the demand for academic growth in all students.
Duncan’s speech points out two major deficiencies in education school teaching with which most critics would agree: They do a bad job teaching students how to manage disruptive classrooms, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, and they don’t offer much in the way of training new teachers how to use data to improve their classroom results.
The excerpts of the speech we were given, however, did not appear to address one part of the classroom management problem that is often raised when successful teachers explain how they learned to keep students in order. These teachers often say they learned by doing, by facing a class alone without help, trying one thing after another until something worked for them. Education school deans have been critical of the Teach for America program, which pushes recent college graduates into classrooms with only a few weeks training, but teachers who have survived that toss-them-into-the-water approach say it works better than class management classes at their teacher’s colleges.