The disturbing provisions about teacher preparation in No Child Left Behind rewrite
By Valerie Strauss December 5 Washington Post Blog
There has been loud applause in the education world for the new Every Student Succeeds Act, the successor to No Child Left Behind that has passed the House and is expected to become federal law soon. It has been hailed as a fix-it to the broken NCLB law, and it does indeed moderate some of NCLB’s biggest problems. But, perhaps because the legislation was only made public a few days before the House voted, there has been little time to look at the details in the bill.
In this post, Kenneth Zeichner, a professor of teacher education at the University of Washington at Seattle, does just that in regard to how the bill approaches teacher preparation programs — and he reveals some deep concerns. For example:
* Provisions in the legislation for the establishment of teacher preparation academies are written to primarily support non-traditional, non-university programs such as those funded by venture philanthropists.
* The legislation “oversteps the authority of the federal government” in several ways, including by declaring that the completion of a program in an academy run by an organization other than a university results in a certificate of completion that may be recognized by states as “at least the equivalent of a master’s degree in education for the purpose of hiring, retention, compensation, and promotion in the state.” The federal government absolutely has no business in suggesting what should and what should not count as the equivalent of a master’s degree in individual states.
* The legislation seeks to mandate “definitions of the content of teacher education programs and methods of program approval that are state responsibilities.” As a result, it lowers “standards for teacher education programs that prepare teachers for high-poverty schools … by exempting teacher preparation academies from what are referred to as ‘unnecessary restrictions on the methods of the academy.’ ”
Here’s the piece by Zeichner, who is a member of the National Academy of Education and professor emeritus in the School of Education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and who has done extensive research on teaching and teacher education.
By Kenneth Zeichner
The fundamental tenets of the Every Student Succeeds Act – the successor to No Child Left Behind – are now well known. It lessens the latter’s focus on standardized test scores and shifts much policy-making power from the U.S. Education Department back to the states. But many educators may be surprised to learn what it includes about teacher preparation. There are provisions in the bill for the establishment of teacher preparation academies – and they are written to primarily support non-traditional, non-university programs.
In October 2013, I criticized a bill called the GREAT Teachers and Principals Act, known as the GREAT Act. It was initiated in March 2011 in conversations between leaders of the New Schools Venture Fund (NSVF); Norm Atkins, founder of the Relay Graduate School of Education; Tim Knowles of the University of Chicago; and several members of Congress.
The purpose of this bill was to provide public funds for promoting the growth of entrepreneurial teacher education programs such as the ones seeded by New Schools Venture Fund (for example, Relay, MATCH Teacher Residency and Urban Teachers) that are mostly run by non-profits. At the time, the CEO of NSVF was Ted Mitchell, who is now the U.S. under secretary of education.