Staffing ED: The Gloves Come Off

By Stephen Sawchuk — January 14, 2009 1 min read

Our intrepid colleague Alyson Klein reports on a letter ostensibly sent by the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education opposing New Leaders for New Schools President Jon Schnur, Teach For America CEO Wendy Kopp, and Education Sector Co-Founder Andy Rotherham, also known as “eduwonk,” as appointments for the Education Department.

The gloves are really off in this letter, which says that Kopp, Schnur, and Rotherham “have evidenced a constant and intense disregard for working with the organized education community” and that their appointments would signal “expansion for organizations that promote the revolving door of under-qualified teachers as the best answer for poor children.” Sounds to me like we’re back in arguments about alt-cert vs. traditional teacher preparation, even though research doesn’t really show that traditional ed. programs produce better teachers than TFA and the New Teacher Project.

Yesterday Arne Duncan, the secretary-designate of the department, was supportive of alternative-certification programs, speaking fondly of Kopp, Schnur, and other “educational entrepreneurs.” But he also plugged recent reforms to teacher education that have been embraced by AACTE, such as residency programs in Boston and Chicago that offer stronger clinical experiences (see Vaishali’s in-depth look at this here.) This may signal a whatever-works type of pragmatism to teacher quality: to attract, develop, and retain bright teacher-candidates from all different types of routes.

Some might wonder if is this a reaction to the battering that Stanford University professor and Obama education-policy transition-team leader Linda Darling-Hammond, AACTE’s choice for EdSec, took in the editorial pages. She’s rumored to be in the running for a job in the administration, possibly in the Institute of Education Sciences. If so, the “establishment” and the “entrepreneurs” are going to need to figure out how to play well together, to borrow an old-report-card phrase.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.