To the Editor:
In a critique of teacher education (“Teachers Colleges as the Weakest Link: Part 2,” November 9, 2018), Marc Tucker reiterated that schools of education are the weakest link in public education and argued that they cannot and will not change without help from “the state.” Tucker believes higher education must defer to government officials to develop universal education policies, citing Finland and Singapore as successful examples.
While such a system may work in Finland, it would not work in a country as large and diverse as the United States, where challenges and needs vary significantly by school district.
Tucker also wants to limit the number of teacher colleges by raising admission standards and praised Singapore for preparing all teachers and administrators in one of the country’s “premier research institutions.”
While I support raising admission standards and even helped Ohio University’s Patton College of Education institute a required 3.0 grade-point average policy for applicants and current students, I also recognize that not every top-notch scholar or researcher would be a top-notch teacher. Theory and practice are not one and the same, which is why the clinical model of education is so important.
Tucker, with a strong focus on financials, seemingly wants education to run as a business. While it is a business, it is not only a business. There’s also one key difference: Business owners have complete control over their raw materials; public education does not. In fact, it has none. Public schools willingly educate every child who enters our doors, together in one room while accounting for social-emotional differences and socioeconomic disparities.
Theory won’t prepare you for that.
Tucker raised valid concerns but calling higher education the weakest link in public education is incorrect, and his approach to education would create more problems than solutions.
Archuleta School District 50 Jt.
Pagosa Springs, Colo.
A version of this article appeared in the December 12, 2018 edition of Education Week as What Works Abroad Won’t Work at Home