Federal Reporter's Notebook

AACTE Warned of Efforts to Harm Public Education

By Vaishali Honawar — March 06, 2007 | Corrected: February 22, 2019 3 min read
  • Save to favorites
  • Print

Corrected: The original version of this article contained a misinterpreted word in a quote by Jack Jennings, the president of the Center on Education Policy, in reference to the reauthorization of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Diane Ravitch, no friend of the current state of teacher education, got a standing ovation from an unlikely crowd last week: a roomful of deans and directors gathered here for the annual conference of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education.

In a speech titled “The Future of Teacher Education in a Hostile Environment,” the New York University professor and noted education historian spoke about what she sees as attempts to cast aside public education.

“Today, we face a situation that can be described as a crisis,” Ms. Ravitch told many of the 2,600 conferees. “People in the past did not say public education needs to be dismantled, but today, there are critics who feel the public education system is obsolete.”

The “crisis talk,” she added, is “used as a rationale to destroy confidence” and to further the argument for privatizing schools.

Ms. Ravitch, a former assistant U.S. secretary of education under President George H.W. Bush, called on her audience to make their voices heard collectively on the No Child Left Behind Act, which is due for reauthorization this year, and to prepare high-quality educators.

Your challenge is to prepare teachers who are superb practitioners, that schools boast about hiring them. You have to build a reputation that says our graduates are number one,” she said.

After the speech, Ms. Ravitch, who took questions from the audience, joked: “If someone told me that I’d get a standing ovation at AACTE, I’d have said you’re nuts!”

Ms. Ravitch is the co-author of an education blog that Education Week’s online counterpart, edweek.org, began hosting last week.

Jack Jennings, the president of the Center on Education Policy, a Washington-based research and policy group, told the deans during a session on the NCLB law that the reauthorization will not be quiet.

“It is going to be a brawl, at times,” said Mr. Jennings, noting that organizations that were excluded the last time, such as the teachers’ unions, will ask for a voice this time around.

“It will be quite a thing to watch,” predicted the former longtime education aide to House Democrats.

AACTE is lobbying for its own changes in the law, including the definition of a “highly qualified” teacher, which, the organization’s officials say, does not require that teachers actually be able to teach. In the future, the association wants the definition to be reserved for those who know their content and are able to teach it effectively.

The organization also wants the law to support the development of student-data systems that will help determine the effectiveness of teachers graduating from preparation programs, and to address the inequities in the distribution of teachers, among other requirements.

Henry L. Johnson, until recently the U.S. Department of Education’s assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, predicted major changes in the reauthorization, including a greater emphasis on high schools, more funding for high schools with large numbers of lower-income students, and an increased effort to close student-achievement gaps.

Said Mr. Johnson: “There is also going to be a tremendous discussion about [school] choice.”

At the gathering, the teacher-college association discussed an innovative idea for its members to consider in helping schools fight teacher shortages: training prospective teachers abroad and importing them to U.S. colleges, where they can receive their credentials to become fully certified in local schools.

At a session on establishing a collaborative teacher education program between India and the United States, Om Pathak, who helped set up several public schools in India, said his country has the world’s largest English-speaking population, and a large number of postgraduates, especially in the fields of mathematics and science, who are trainable and deployable as teachers. Besides, he added, teacher-preparation costs are significantly lower in India than they are in the United States.

He said India now has 900 teacher-training institutions, but that country has severe teacher shortages.

While details of the plan have not been worked out, Mr. Pathak said, the training facility in India would set up Praxis preparation and testing for teacher certification. Praxis is a teaching exam required in some states for certification.

Mwangaza Michael-Bandele, a senior director at AACTE who moderated the discussion, said association leaders are “excited about the collaboration” and are working on how best to make it happen.

A version of this article appeared in the March 07, 2007 edition of Education Week

Events

This content is provided by our sponsor. It is not written by and does not necessarily reflect the views of Education Week's editorial staff.
Sponsor
IT Infrastructure & Management Webinar
From Chaos to Clarity: How to Master EdTech Management and Future-Proof Your Evaluation Processes
The road to a thriving educational technology environment is paved with planning, collaboration, and effective evaluation.
Content provided by Instructure
Special Education Live Online Discussion A Seat at the Table - Special Education: Proven Interventions for Academic Success
Special education should be a launchpad, not a label. Join the conversation on how schools can better support ALL students.
Special Education K-12 Essentials Forum Innovative Approaches to Special Education
Join this free virtual event to explore innovations in the evolving landscape of special education.

EdWeek Top School Jobs

Teacher Jobs
Search over ten thousand teaching jobs nationwide — elementary, middle, high school and more.
View Jobs
Principal Jobs
Find hundreds of jobs for principals, assistant principals, and other school leadership roles.
View Jobs
Administrator Jobs
Over a thousand district-level jobs: superintendents, directors, more.
View Jobs
Support Staff Jobs
Search thousands of jobs, from paraprofessionals to counselors and more.
View Jobs

Read Next

Federal Opinion Federal Education Reform Has Largely Failed. Unfortunately, We Still Need It
Neither NCLB nor ESSA have lived up to their promise, but the problems calling for national action persist.
Jack Jennings
4 min read
Red, Blue, and Purple colors over a fine line etching of the Capitol building. Republicans and Democrats, Partisan Politicians.
Douglas Rissing/iStock
Federal A More Complete Picture of Immigration's Impact on U.S. Public Schools
House Republicans say a migrant influx has caused "chaos" in K-12 schools. The reality is more complicated.
10 min read
Parents and community members rally outside P.S. 189 to protest New York City Mayor Eric Adam's plan to temporarily house immigrants in the school's gymnasium, seen in the background on May 16, 2023, in New York.
Parents and community members rally outside P.S. 189 to protest New York City Mayor Eric Adam's plan to temporarily house immigrants in the school's gymnasium, seen in the background on May 16, 2023, in New York.
John Minchillo/AP
Federal Explainer What Is Title IX? Schools, Sports, and Sex Discrimination
Title IX, the law prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex, is undergoing changes. What it is, how it works, and how it's enforced.
2 min read
In this Nov. 21, 1979 file photo, Bella Abzug, left, and Patsy Mink of Women USA sit next to Gloria Steinem as she speaks in Washington where they warned presidential candidates that promises for women's rights will not be enough to get their support in the next election.
In this Nov. 21, 1979, photo, Bella Abzug, left, and Patsy Mink of Women USA sit next to Gloria Steinem as she speaks in Washington at an event where they warned presidential candidates that promises for women's rights will not be enough to win their support in the next election.
Harvey Georges/AP
Federal Donald Trump's Conviction: 3 Takeaways for Educators
The conviction gives educators a backdrop to discuss elections, the judicial system, and how to evaluate biases.
4 min read
Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal court during jury deliberations in his criminal hush money trial in New York, on May 30, 2024.
Former President Donald Trump appears at Manhattan criminal court during jury deliberations in his criminal hush money trial in New York, on May 30, 2024. The jury convicted him on all counts.
Steven Hirsch/New York Post via AP