N.J. Advised To Strengthen Ties Between Teachers, Researchers
Trenton, N.J.--A panel of outside educational experts has told New Jersey officials that it is essential that stronger partnerships be formed between academicians and classroom teachers to help those starting out in the teaching profession.
In a 16-page report, the 10-member Panel on the Preparation of Beginning Teachers--chaired by Ernest L. Boyer, president of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, and including representatives from education schools and the profession--issued the appeal for cooperation as part of a broad outline of the types of expertise teachers should have before entering the classroom.
"The plea of our report is to some-how build credibility and respect so theorists and teachers can listen to each other," Mr. Boyer told members of the New Jersey State Board of Education last week.
Education Commissioner Saul Cooperman convened the panel last fall to develop guidelines on what is essential for a beginning teacher to know. He sought the advice as part of his plan for a new procedure for certifying teachers in New Jersey.
Under Mr. Cooperman's proposal, prospective teachers could gain their licenses by passing competency tests in the subjects they planned to teach and successfully completing a one-year internship in the public schools. Most teachers now earn certification by taking college courses in education and serving as practice teachers in public schools.
The state board announced at its meeting last week the creation of a 21-member state panel that over the next two months will set guidelines for the internship.
Chaired by Harry Jaroslaw, superintendent of schools in Tenafly, the panel will use the recommendations of the Boyer committee in deciding how to evaluate the new teachers and who should supervise them. The recommendations of the Boyer committee will also be distributed to teacher-training programs in the state.
The certification proposal has come under fire from teachers' groups, which claim that Mr. Cooperman's real intent is to usurp the authority of college teacher-training programs. The commissioner counters that he is only trying to cre-ate a new avenue to attract better-qualified people to teaching.
The panel members, who came to New Jersey for two days in January, were asked to define what new teachers should know and what skills they should possess. The panelists were told not to comment on the commissioner's certification plan.
The panel of educators decided that there were three major areas of expertise needed for beginning teachers: a solid command of their subject; an understanding of the sociological backgrounds of their students; and a knowledge of how to manage a classroom.
"While these seem self-evident categories, they are often not presented adequately to teachers," Mr. Boyer told the state board. He placed the blame for inadequate pre-paration of young teachers on a breakdown in communication between academic theorists and classroom instructors. Too often, he said, theorists in education look down on the people in the classrooms.
The report also suggested that New Jersey and other states adopt a teachers' code of ethics, similar to the Hippocratic Oath for physicians, to impress upon beginning teachers the importance of maintaining the integrity of the profession.
The panel also concluded that there are advantages and disadvantages to both collegiate and noncollegiate settings for training teachers. ''Perhaps the best approach is to join the learning places, to build partnerships and coalitions between the participating institutions," the report said.