All colleges and graduate schools of education must do a better job of preparing future teachers for the classroom, Arne Duncan, secretary of education, said in a speech Thursday. Many leaders of teacher education programs said they agreed with his comments, but it was hard to find any who said they thought his criticisms applied to their institutions.
“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 for the realities of the 21st century classroom,” he told an audience of faculty members, students and teachers at Teachers College of Columbia University. “America’s university-based teacher preparation programs need revolutionary change — not evolutionary tinkering.”
Duncan’s speech bore down on the colleges and graduate schools that prepare more than half the teachers in U.S. primary and secondary schools — 60 percent of whom, by one count, entered the classroom feeling unprepared for the challenges that lay ahead — and called on those programs to introduce more in-the-classroom training and better tracking of teacher performance and student outcomes.
Arthur Levine, president of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation and former dean of Teachers College, said the speech “threw a lifeline to university-based teacher education programs” as more states and school districts are turning to other kinds of teacher certification programs to get bodies to the blackboard.