When people complain about the quality of teachers, colleges of education often get the blame.
To turn their image problems around, administrators at Washington State University's education school in Pullman, Wash., have created InformED: The American Association of Information Officers for Colleges of Education, the first organization for public relations officials at education schools.
The group, which currently has 16 university members, exists as a communications network on the Internet's World Wide Web. The members would like the group eventually to become an outlet for exchanges of ideas, said Bill London, the information officer at wsu's education school and the group's interim coordinator.
On the Web site, for example, viewers can find a list of proposed strategies for publicizing initiatives, such as technology education or diversity programs. And electronic mail spurs an ongoing discussion of how to improve communications.
"If the school of education is not telling its story and getting out positive information, that means that there are more people with perceptions and biases and notions that aren't correct," Mr. London said.
Colleges of education are no longer "ivory towers," he added.
Mr. London hopes to attract at least 30 information officers in time for the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education meeting next February, so the AACTE's board of directors will accept InformED as a special study group.
The organization's Web-site address is http://www.vpds.wsu.edu/InformED/.
"Career switchers," those who want to become elementary or secondary school teachers after beginning their careers in other fields, can find opportunities in a new AACTE directory of post-baccalaureate teaching programs.
In its Alternative Paths to Teaching: A Directory of Postbaccalaureate Programs, the AACTE has compiled listings for over 300 university programs that prepare individuals to receive a state teaching license or a master's degree.
The book aims to show that a potential teacher does not have to participate in a traditional undergraduate education program. For example, the Military Veterans Program offered by Cleveland's John Carroll University allows veterans with a liberal arts degree to obtain a teaching certificate while completing a master's in education.
Copies of the book can be ordered for $15 each, plus $5 for shipping and handling, from the AACTE, 1 Dupont Circle, Suite 610, Washington, D.C. 20036; fax (202) 457-8095.