Letters to the Editor
Jim Sutton Administrative Lobbyist Iowa State Education Association Des Moines, Iowa
The abolition of undergraduate-degree programs in education is an unwise move in otherwise constructive reforms of teacher preparation in Texas ("Texas Restrictions on Teacher Training Cited in Complaint," March 15, 1989).
While I am sure the legislative actions there are well intentioned, the effect of abolishing the education major is to weaken the preparation of prospective teachers and force them into on-the-job training or graduate-level programs to acquire the professional education they need.
This approach is also a strategy recommended by both the Holmes Group and the Carnegie Task Force on Teaching as a Profession for driving up the salaries and prestige of teachers.
The abolitionist movement is born out of frustration with the sluggish rate of restructuring in most schools of education.
There is little question that many undergraduate teacher-education programs are in serious trouble. They are often understaffed, poorly organized, shallow remnants of the old normal schools.
But the answer is not to abolish the whole concept of the baccalaureate program--which is still a valid and even preferable basis for the preparation of teachers.
We need to strengthen these programs, not deny access to thousands of young people who can't afford a graduate education.
Five steps must be taken to accomplish the necessary reforms:
All schools of education must be required to earn national accreditation to be eligible for program approval at the state level.
Programs that do not regularly produce 70 percent or better pass rates among graduates on licensing exams should be shut down.
The four-year undergraduate degree in education should require a second major in an academic discipline to assure that teachers are as well educated as they are trained.
The clinical teaching component of teacher education needs redesign to establish well planned and supervised internships in the first two years of full-time teaching.
The complex system of certification and regulation that dilutes undergraduate education programs and sets artificial barriers to entry into the profession needs to be dramatically simplified.
Abolishing undergraduate programs would leave us with the same faculty and the same schools operating at the "graduate" level. That would not improve prestige for teachers; it would only delude us into thinking we had better programs.
Let's not give up on the professional baccalaureate, but let's return some sense to its curriculum.
Donald J. Stedman Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, N.C. To the Editor:
The Texas legislature has more serious problems than the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and Hendrik D. Gideonse.
Many states require out-of-state applicants to meet the same requirements as graduates of in-state teacher-education programs.
By falling beneath the minimum standards of other states, Texas may have made its graduates ineligible for certification elsewhere, except in states that permit alternate certification.
Mr. Gideonse certainly is "courageous" and "creative"--and moral, persistent, and professional, too.
We have had a good crop of rowdy teacher-education deans lately--including Mr. Gideonse--who are bringing positive changes to our profession.
Mr. Gideonse has the fastest-breaking roundhouse curve in the business. When he throws it, I'm proud we wear the same uniform.
Texas better watch out: It's at the bottom of the Education Reform League and facing a hot pitcher who doesn't need a spitball.
Jeff Cryan Editor "Massachusetts English Teacher" Reading, Mass.
The boxed table on the front page of your March 8, 1989, issue, relating the results of a survey about parental choice ("Views on 'Choice'"), speaks volumes about the role of American teachers in discussions of education policy.
While the box, along with an accompanying article ("In Poll, Slim Majority of Board Chiefs Oppose Choice; 62% for Decentralizing"), outlines the views of school-board presidents, superintendents, principals, two sorts of parents, and taxpayers with no children in schools, there is no indication that the outlooks of teachers were ever sought.
How could teachers' views on a topic with such long-term ramifications for American education be overlooked, first by the National Center for Education Information, and then again by "American Education's Newspaper of Record" in its report of the survey results?
The single mention of teachers in your report on the survey only serves to increase my concern: "... only 30 percent [of the school-board presidents surveyed] said they supported giving teachers more decisionmaking authority in running schools."