Teacher Columns

March 07, 1990 4 min read

The Milwaukee Teachers Education Association, the nation’s largest independent organization for teachers, has agreed to join forces with Wisconsin’s largest state teachers’ union in lobbying the legislature and other political action.

The Wisconsin Education Association Council is hoping that the new spirit of cooperation will lead the m.t.e.a. to affiliate with the council, possibly by the spring of 1992, said Richard W. Collins, president of the state union.

The Milwaukee organization, which has 8,500 members, split with the council in 1974 in a dispute over the state union’s emphasis on social issues at the time, Mr. Collins said.

Delegates to the Wisconsin group’s representative assembly will be asked next month to approve an agreement with the m.t.e.a. that calls for the state union to represent the Milwaukee organization in lobbying efforts. The m.t.e.a. would contribute to the union’s political-action committee.

In addition, the groups are considering holding their conventions in the same city in 1992, when m.t.e.a. members would vote on whether to affiliate with the 55,000-member state union, a National Education Association affiliate.

Recognizing that current efforts to draw more minority candidates into teaching will fall far short of the demand, a committee of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education has issued a policy paper calling for all teachers to be better trained to teach students of all cultural backgrounds.

The paper, “Minority Teacher Supply and Demand: The Next Level,” grew out of a January symposium on the topic involving representatives from 26 educational, community, and government agencies.

Noting that the minority school-age population will increase from 26 percent to 30 percent within this decade, the paper says it is “imperative that all teachers be adequately prepared to educate a diverse student population of Anglo-Saxon, African, Hispanic, Asian, and Native American origins.”

It also delineates the responsibilities to make that happen on the part of schools, colleges, state education departments, community leaders, businesses, policymakers, and the general public.

Copies of the paper are available for $5 each from aacte Publications, 1 Dupont Circle, Suite 600, Washington, D.C. 20036-2412.

A new survey suggests that rank-and-file teacher educators put little stock in many of the current criticisms of teacher education and proposals put forth for improving the teaching profession.

The study, compiled by the Association of Teacher Educators, is based on responses from a survey of 944 teacher educators in school districts, state education departments, and colleges and universities.

The respondents seemed to agree overwhelmingly that national certification for teachers, such as that being pursued by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, would improve the prestige of teaching. But they held out little hope that the process would improve the quality of teachers or teacher-training programs.

On a scale of 1 to 4, with 4 indicating the highest level of agreement, the respondents rated the capacity of national certification to enhance the status of the profession at 3.92. But expectations that such certification would lead to better teachers and teacher-preparation programs were rated 2.42 and 2.47, respectively.

The educators also said that traditional undergraduate, four-year programs were effective in preparing teachers. The respondents gave such programs a rating of 2.91.

The single reform most critical to bettering the profession, those polled said, is providing mentors for beginning teachers.

The study was the first of what is expected to be an annual survey by the ate

In other action by aacte, the group has named Gary D. Fenstermacher, dean of the college of education at the University of Arizona, its president-elect. Mr. Fenstermacher will become president and chairman of aacte’s board of directors next February.

The organization’s current president is Janice F. Weaver, dean of the college of education at Murray State University in Kentucky.

The Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington and the Royal Shakespeare Company of Britain will offer a four-week institute this summer for British and American teachers on the textual and dramatic aspects of three Shakespearean plays.

The program, funded in this country by a $200,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, is open to 25 American secondary-school teachers.

Those selected will spend July 23 through Aug. 6 in Stratford-on-Avon in England studying performance methods. The following two weeks will be spent in analyzing texts at the Folger library, an international research center.

The plays to be studied are “King Lear,” “Romeo and Juliet,” and “Troilus and Cressida.”

Any junior- or senior-high-school teacher is eligible to apply. For information, write: Teaching Shakespeare Institute, Folger Shakespeare Library, 201 East Capitol St., S.E., Washington, D.C. 20003. Applications must be received by April 10.

--ab & dv

A version of this article appeared in the March 07, 1990 edition of Education Week as Teacher Columns