To the Editor:
Report after report finds that many teacher-candidates are not receiving the education they need to succeed in today’s classrooms.
Indeed, in a September 2013 report titled “Preparing and Advancing Teachers and School Leaders: A New Approach for Federal Policy,” the Education Trust found that poor teacher training is “devastating to students, especially the low-income students and students of color who are most likely to have newly minted teachers.”
Others disparage schools of education as “cash cows” with low standards that keep students moving through and paying, not achieving.
Such claims are flat-out wrong for many programs. But in too many cases, they are accurate. Institutions of higher education have two choices: We can bury our heads in the sand, or take a hard look at our programs, embrace innovative solutions, and hold ourselves accountable for how our graduates perform. The stakes for students are high.
From Wisconsin to New York, states often punish individual teachers when they should demand more from the institutions that train them. Preservice teachers need hands-on experience with feedback from qualified mentor teachers, and instruction in classroom management, technology use, and understanding the social context of their students. To be successful, they need more than just subject mastery.
Good businesses stand behind the quality of their products and services, and education schools must stand behind the preparation we provide for our nation’s classroom teachers.
At the University of Southern California Rossier School of Education, we made a formal commitment to our students that we will properly prepare them. If they ever need help in the classroom, at any point in their careers, we have a rapid-response team of Rossier faculty that will assess their challenges and work with them on a plan to improve, whether that’s with mentoring, professional development, or other interventions.
We hope other schools will join us. Let’s stop blaming teachers for inadequate preparation and commit to ensuring that all teachers are ready to succeed in the classroom the day they graduate.
Karen Symms Gallagher
Rossier School of Education
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, Calif.
A version of this article appeared in the May 07, 2014 edition of Education Week as Dean: Ed. School Responsibility Extends Beyond Graduation