To the Editor:
U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s recent remarks at Teachers College, Columbia University, on teacher preparation were indeed more conciliatory than those he made at the University of Virginia two weeks earlier, to the relief of many of us who have worked to strengthen teacher education (“Duncan Shares Concerns Over Teacher Prep,” Oct. 28, 2009).
Many university-led efforts already encompass the reforms Mr. Duncan advocates, including more-frequent and longer opportunities for fieldwork, evidence of subject-matter knowledge, and use of data to improve instruction. Mr. Duncan also rightly acknowledged the need for other players, including universities and the states, to step up their own commitment to improving K-12 education through better teaching.
For its part, the Department of Education should not wait for the reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act to get serious about financial support for education schools’ reform initiatives. In particular, more research funding is needed to refine our knowledge of what works to prepare effective teachers, and to conduct research about emerging models that fall outside traditional avenues.
Camilla P. Benbow
Dean of Education and Human Development
A version of this article appeared in the November 18, 2009 edition of Education Week as To Department: ‘Get Serious’ About Funding Ed. Schools