The answer looks like, not anytime soon. UW College of Education professor, Ken Zeichner, had a column at the Washington Post's The Answer Sheet this week about legislation in Congress to "reform" teacher preparation programs. It's called "The GREAT Teachers and Principals Act" and naturally, it is nothing of the sort.
During the last few years, The New Schools Venture Fund (NSVF),
a major private funder of K-12 charter schools, has been intensely
involved in creating and promoting a bill (the GREAT Act) in the U.S.
Congress. This bill, if passed, would lead to the establishment of
teacher and principal preparation programs that would not be subject to
the same level of accountability as other state-approved programs. The
bill is a part of a broader movement to disrupt the current system of
college and university teacher education and replace it with
deregulation, competition, and a market economy.
We should be concerned over the lack of public discussion about the
assumptions underlying the proposed legislation for it would have a
on how teachers and principals are prepared. The questions of whether
or not deregulation, competition and markets are the ways to improve
teacher education, how to assess the quality of teaching and teacher
education programs, and what the peer-reviewed research shows about the
impact of different pathways into teaching – these are all matters that
remain unsettled among serious scholars. They warrant trenchant public
discussion and debate.
Note that Professor Zeichner says "serious scholars" and not just the next wealthy person who read a white paper on education and is now an "expert."
Those of us who have been in the trenches know The New Schools Venture Fund as something of a junior Gates Foundation.
NSVF was founded in 1998 by social entrepreneur Kim Smith and venture capitalists John Doerr and Brook Byers. According to its 2012 annual report
NSVF operates 331 charter schools that enroll 130,500 students (83
percent of whom are low income). If these schools were put together they
would make up one of the largest 20 districts in the United States. To
date, 350,000 students have been taught by teachers trained in NSVF
ventures. Its K-12 ventures include ASPIRE, the Achievement Network,
KIPP, MATCH, Rocketship, Uncommon Schools and the Academy for Urban
Although NSVF’s role in teacher education has been relatively minor
to date, it has provided funding to a number of the most visible
entrepreneurial programs including Teach For America (TFA), The New
Teacher Project (TNTP), Relay Graduate School of Education (RGSE), the
Urban Teacher Center, and MATCH Teacher Residency. The goal
of NSVF’s investments has been to promote deregulation and
privatization in K-12 and in teacher education so that there will be
opportunities for new entrepreneur-developed programs to emerge in what
would be a market economy.
Professor Zeichner outlines, in detail, the whole sorry tale of this legislation. It's complete nonsense. What is troubling is that it was included in the NCLB reauthorization legislation.
Why do I say it's nonsense? It's not because our teaching colleges don't need some revamping or new thinking. I have seen change happening. I have toured Seattle University's department and saw great things (and great students) A quick fix is of a production line of new teachers, in and out of schools and in and out of students' lives will not help. It's practically magical thinking.
It is also nonsense because it degrades the profession at the very time our country needs to elevate it. We need to support, fully-train, pay an above-decent salary and honor our teachers and those who want to learn to be teachers. That's how we will get better teachers and teachers who want to teach in difficult circumstances. Not a revolving door of teachers.
And again, just like charters and testing, there is NO country in the world emulating what passes for "ed reform" in this country.
UPDATE: this person is precisely the type I'm talking about. It's not "help" to further education but to further an agenda.