Private Schools Column
Private-school teachers should increase their involvement in current efforts to reform teacher education, particularly the work of the planning group for the proposed national certification board, those attending last month's annual meeting of the National Association of Independent Schools were told.
Lee Shulman, professor of education at Stanford University, noted in a speech to the group that only public-school teachers are included in the 33-member planning group, sponsored by the Carnegie Forum on Education and the Economy.
"Why is this?'' Mr. Shulman asked. "My own speculation is that neither public-school teachers nor private-school teachers have seen themselves as part of the same community.'' One reason for the schism, he surmised, is that certification is not required for private-school teachers.
But improving teacher education will aid the private sector as much as the public, said Mr. Shulman.
"If the independent-school community can help in the re-conception of teacher education, then we will end up with something better for all,'' he said. "This is an occasion for these separate communities to come together.''
David R. Mandel, associate director of the Carnegie Forum, said private-school teachers were not included in the planning group because "the group to date and the task-force report have focused on reform in the public schools.''
"That doesn't mean we don't think the work the board is doing isn't applicable to private schools,'' he added. "When the board begins to issue certificates, I think a good number of private-school teachers would want one. This could forge some links that aren't there today.''
Mr. Mandel said it may not be feasible to add any more members to the planning group, since the group will "go out of business'' when the national certification board is created next year.
But he indicated that private-school teachers might conceivably find representation on the national board.
"The board may be larger than the planning group,'' he said. "It's likely that there will be a relationship with private schools that doesn't exist today.''
The N.A.I.S. president, John C. Esty, singled out the private elementary school as a primary focus of the group in the coming year. He said that the association would also "address the gender imbalance of school leadership'' and study the implications of changing demographics on private education.
Mr. Esty's list of priority items included, in addition, "continued efforts'' to find ways to improve teacher recruitment and retention.
In that vein, the conference address of a former private-school teacher might offer enlightenment.
Winston Emmons, a former teacher at Dedham Country Day School in Dedham, Mass., who left teaching in 1984 to enter the business world, urged independent-school officials to pay teachers more, and give them opportunities for professional growth and advancement.
"Compensation is opportunity, respect, and money,'' said Mr. Emmons, who is now an executive in the educational division of Cullinet Software in Stamford, Conn.
Mr. Emmons said that after 12 years of teaching, his salary was only $22,000, and the only way he could advance was to become an administrator.
Independent schools should encourage teachers to continue their education and provide ways in which they can learn about other professions, he said, perhaps through summer internships with local businesses.
"Declare your schools to be graduate schools for life,'' Mr. Emmons told the administrators. "Show young teachers that teaching can be a career or a path to a career. Make it easy to leave--those who do will be better off. For those who stay, let them know they can get ahead by staying.''
And, Mr. Emmons added, "pay teachers what they're worth, and provide regular performance reviews.''
Eight students from Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., left the country March 15 to begin a month-long stay at a leading mathematics and science institute in the Soviet Union.
The students are part of an exchange program with the Academician Lavrentyev High Special Physical-Mathematical Boarding School N 165, one of three high-school-level schools in the Soviet Union for students gifted in mathematics.
Eight students from the Soviet school, located in Novosibirsk, a major industrial city in Siberia, are scheduled to arrive at Andover during the first week of April. Each group will spend four weeks taking classes at the host school, and another week traveling.
Aleksei Filippovich Bogachev, director of the Soviet school, spent the last week of February visiting Andover to make final arrangements for the exchange.
"The school is wealthy, of course,'' Mr. Bogachev said of the Phillips Academy, through an interpreter. "I envy their pool, hockey rink, gymnasium--the material living standards to which we aspire.''
He said that his "first impression'' was, "How is the way we live going to affect the American students?''
For the Soviet students, Mr. Bogachev said, "most important will be the interaction and socialization process.''
Private schools in New York State have won the right to apply for exemption from new rules passed by the state Board of Regents last year that require all schools to be accredited by the board.
The New York State Association of Independent Schools, arguing that the programs its schools offered were equal to state programs, had lobbied for "variances,'' or exemptions, from the accrediting process.
In a December ruling, the Regents agreed to the process. About 80 schools in the association have applied for and gotten permanent variances for their programs.--K.G.
Vol. 06, Issue 25