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Education policy maven Rick Hess of the American Enterprise Institute think tank offers straight talk on matters of policy, politics, research, and reform. Read more from this blog.

Teacher Preparation Opinion

Why Mike Casserly Is a Stud

By Rick Hess — August 16, 2011 2 min read
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The National Council on Teacher Quality is currently preparing a controversial, much-anticipated national study of teacher preparation with U.S. News & World Report. Scheduled for release in Fall 2012, the analysis has occasioned much hand-wringing and wailing from the teacher education community. Considering that the nation’s 1,000+ teacher prep programs vacuum up dollars from aspiring teachers, school districts, and state governments, you’d think they would welcome the chance to demonstrate that their dismal reputation is undeserved. You’d be wrong. Instead, they’ve sought to undermine and impede NCTQ’s efforts, while slamming NCTQ.

The organizations that represent school, district, and state officials who ultimately bear the costs and the blame for the result of today’s teacher prep programs have mostly kept their heads down and their mouths shut through all this, except when demanding more funds (frequently, to provide training that teachers should have received in their preparation programs).

Happily, that silence is not uniform. Late last week, Mike Casserly, the executive director of the Council of the Great City Schools, sent NCTQ honcho Kate Walsh a bracing letter endorsing its effort. On behalf of the CGCS’s executive committee, Casserly wrote, "[We are] concerned that too many Colleges of Education are graduating students who are poorly prepared academically and not ready to provide quality instruction in our urban classrooms. We are frequently the subject of research, analysis, and study by a wide range of groups and organizations, and are puzzled by the opposition from the higher education community to the examination that your group is proposing.”

Casserly sensibly noted some concerns, writing, “We do believe that you have presented the same level of transparency in your techniques as most groups do, but we are concerned that your data collection process may make it difficult to get a complete picture of the field, a situation prompted in part by resistance from those being studied.”

That said, he concluded, “We do not think the weaknesses in the study’s scope and protocol trump the need to conduct the study or the moral and political imperatives for the colleges to cooperate. Consequently, the Council of the Great City Schools lends this study our support.”

By the way, for all you dollar-chasing edu-advocates out there, this is why Casserly and CGCS are in the room for every serious federal policy conversation--and you’re not. They’ve shown a willingness to take tough stands that break with edu-orthodoxy, refusing to merely circle the wagons. They showed their mettle when requesting the urban trial NAEP, in embracing accountability a decade ago, and in coming to the table with ideas other than a plea for more funds. The result is capital, goodwill, and trust. And that’s why CGCS can be confident its concerns will get a fair hearing from federal policymakers, while education deans wonder why they’re not getting the deference they think they deserve.

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The opinions expressed in Rick Hess Straight Up are strictly those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinions or endorsement of Editorial Projects in Education, or any of its publications.