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Education School Offers 'Warranty'

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In an attempt to alleviate negative attitudes toward schools of education, the University of Virginia has announced that it will guarantee the performance of its graduates who are recommended for teacher certification.

The school's "warranty" covers graduates during their first year on the job, but only if they work in Virginia.

If a principal or superintendent of schools complains that a new teacher is having problems with classroom management, discipline, or instruction, the university will dispatch a professor to the school to work with the teacher, according to James M. Cooper, dean of the university's Curry School of Education.

If necessary, he added, the university will also waive tuition and fees for graduates to attend summer courses.

Other Warranty Programs

"I think there's been too much negative publicity about schools of education and public schools in general," Mr. Cooper said. "I'm really trying to dramatize to the public that not all schools of education are the same."

According to the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, four other schools of education currently have some kind of "warranty" program: Doane College in Nebraska; Eastern Washington State College; the University of Northern Colorado; and Oregon State University.

"I do believe it will be a trend," said Vivian Cooper, a spokesman for the association. "Schools of education have been looking for ways to be involved in the [elementary and secondary] schools and have a greater partnership with the schools. The problem has been to find something that is doable and usable. This looks like it has hit a nerve."

Continued Responsibility

The warranty offer, whether it is used or not, is valuable because it "helps tie higher education into a continued responsibility for the professional development of a teacher," said Richard Kunkel, executive director of the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education.

"The idea of a warranty or guarantee is a bit theatrical," he said. "But the serious place of higher education in helping first-year teachers succeed is important, and that's growing."

The National Education Association supports the concept of a warranty program, said Howard Carroll, a spokesman. "But at the same time," he added, "the nea would stress that the colleges should do everything they can to provide the proper skills [to students] before they graduate."--lck

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