Opinion
Education Letter to the Editor

On the Relative Merits of Mentoring and Induction

January 31, 2006 1 min read
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Harry K. Wong
Saratoga, Calif.

Your Quality Counts 2006 report (Jan. 5, 2006) takes a step backward. On Page 88, you list “State requires and finances mentoring for all novice teachers” as one of Quality Counts’ criteria for professional support and training. Yet your Quality Counts 2003 edition had listed “State requires AND finances induction for all new teachers.” Why was the change made from quality measured by induction to quality measured by mentoring?

Quality Counts 2006 correctly reports that New Jersey finances mentoring, but is grossly incorrect in including Connecticut, California, Louisiana, and South Carolina in that assessment, as those states go way beyond mentoring, with comprehensive induction programs.

In fact, the fall 2005 issue of the Palmetto Administrator, the journal of the South Carolina Association of School Administrators, contains an article, “Upgrading ADEPT,” on the state’s induction program, Assisting, Developing, and Evaluating Professional Teaching. So while South Carolina is progressing, Education Week is regressing. Quality Counts 2006 is saying that what counts as “quality” is to give a new teacher a mentor.

The great tragedy of your Quality Counts 2006 report is that it is misleading. It misguides state policymakers and administrators, who truly care about supporting new teachers, into believing that to make your list of what counts as quality, all they have to do is mandate the practice of giving new teachers a mentor.

Mentors are important; that’s not the issue. New teachers need a plethora of people to help them succeed. But induction is a comprehensive, multifaceted, all-encompassing, and sustained training-and-support process, of which mentoring is but one facet.

Harry K. Wong

Saratoga, Calif.

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