Education Letter to the Editor

NRC Panel Studying Teacher Training Needs to Include Practicing Educators

January 17, 2006 1 min read

To the Editor:

If I understand this correctly, the National Research Council will spend 2½ years and $1.5 million to determine how to improve teacher-training programs (“Panel Examines Teacher Training,” Dec. 14, 2005). All of this will be done with a committee composed of college professors, deans, research fellows, and so on. Not one practicing K-12 administrator or recognized master elementary or secondary teacher sits on the committee.

Please forgive my arrogance, but give me five minutes to make five phone calls and we can handle the question in an afternoon. This is really easy. At most, Congress will have to foot the bill for coffee and bagels.

Why do we insist on making things so complicated and then trying to have the least-qualified people solve the problem?

James M. Sullivan

Assistant Superintendent for Instruction and Curriculum

South Huntington Union Free School District

Huntington Station, N.Y.

To the Editor:

How is teacher education to change if the National Research Council panel discussing possible changes is made up of those who, for the most part, are responsible for the end product we see today? Answers will not be found in research that’s concerned with what was or what is. Such research is partly responsible for what we have today.

Why are there no school principals and experienced teachers on this panel? The group needs to include those who are working as a result of the education they received, not the very people who administered and delivered that education.

In 1989, New York University convened a similar group under a grant from the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. It produced a document, “What Teachers Need to Know,” that was supposed to be the blueprint for a variety of changes in teacher education. The current panel also needs to be aware of what teachers need to know, and its members need to hear that from practicing educators, not from within the ranks of those who perpetuate what does not work.

Steven C. Appelbaum

Boca Raton, Fla.