To the Editor:
In a critique of teacher education (“Teachers Colleges: The Weakest Link,” November 1, 2018), Marc Tucker states that “schools of education are the weakest link in our public education system.” He writes, “It is not clear to me what our future teachers learn in their schools of education that is of any value to them when they begin teaching.”
I welcome constructive criticism but, I must say, I found little that was constructive or accurate in this blog post.
Community colleges and colleges of education provide immense value and opportunities for those who aspire to be teachers. As a dean of a college of education, I meet regularly with other deans of colleges of education from around the country through The American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education. I have witnessed firsthand how today’s colleges of education are preparing teachers quite differently than they did a decade ago. In a national strategy to prepare effective teachers, AACTE and the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation continued to support a reimagined clinical model of educator preparation.
This clinical model requires students to co-teach with established professionals and complete sustained, yearlong clinical experiences in teaching. Instead of relying on course-based outcomes, teacher candidates and pre-K-12 teachers are actively and positively impacting their students’ learning. The clinical model can’t work without the support of teachers, principals, and superintendents. The Report of the AACTE Clinical Practice Commission frames the definition of clinical practice and offers several model protocols. This is a framework to build, maintain, and sustain a clinical partnership, which joins the needs of a college or university and local pre-K-12 schools in the preparation of highly effective educators to meet the needs of all learners.
AACTE features model teacher education programs in its Research-to-Practice Spotlight Series. The spotlight series aims to not only celebrate successful programs but also provide models of exemplary practice for other institutions in the nascent stages of partnership formation.
Tucker is right in recognizing the challenges that the entire system of education faces. Playing the blame game is easy, but it is also unproductive. I invite him to spend some time in today’s schools and colleges of education. I think he would find, as I do, there is a lot that has changed and much to be proud of.
Renée A. Middleton
Dean of the Patton College of Education
A version of this article appeared in the November 14, 2018 edition of Education Week as Ed. Colleges Provide Value