To the Editor:
Grayson Wheatley has concluded that a major recommendation from the recent blue-ribbon panel convened by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education to make clinical practice the major linchpin of high-quality and highly effective teacher education programs is ill-advised (“More Preservice Teaching in Schools Not Effective,” Letters to the Editor, Dec. 8, 2010). Professor Wheatley contends that teacher-candidates who might be introduced to new ideas from higher education professionals are then placed into secondary schools where outdated instructional rules and practices force teacher-candidates to comply with instructional routines that are neither exemplary nor innovative.
Unfortunately, Professor Wheatley is completely ignoring a body of information that flies in the face of his conclusions. The National Association for Professional Development Schools, or NAPDS, comprises partnerships between schools of education and P-12 schools in which faculty from both settings collaborate to bring best practices to the preparation of prospective teachers. A policy platform of NAPDS is that partnerships between higher education and P-12 faculty lead to true innovation, and that innovative ideas come from faculty in P-12 schools as well as those in higher education. NAPDS has chronicled more than 200 professional practices in secondary school-professional development school partnerships that highlight the fact that innovative practices can and are indeed being wrought through these partnerships.
In education, it is all right to look at the past as long as you do not stare. It is time to get past the outdated notions that educational innovation can only occur in colleges and universities. Our P-12 students deserve to have teachers whose preparation permits them to be highly effective. That can only happen if such preparation includes meaningful collaborations between professors and classroom teachers. NCATE and NAPDS know full well that through these partnerships, innovations in instructional practices are and will continue to be realized.
Dean and Professor
College of Education
University of South Carolina
A version of this article appeared in the February 09, 2011 edition of Education Week as Not Only Professors Create Innovations