Want to redesign teacher education? The series finale brings to light the lack of respect for the expertise of highly accomplished teachers in the shaping of education policy that historically results in bad policy, weak curriculum and ineffective assessment.
Thought I’d forgotten about the last part of the series… not a chance.
We want respect for the expertise of highly accomplished teachers in the shaping of education policy.
A widely held public myth is that teachers have control over what has been happening in America’s schools. The truth is teachers have much less control over the key aspects of public education than we should, and in fact, many of the disastrous effects and side effects of bad policy, weak curriculum, excessive but ineffective assessment, could have been avoided had teachers had more influence over those decisions.
In any other profession or topic area, we would seek out those whose practice clearly distinguishes them as experts and seek their advice on matters related to that profession or field. Sadly, our society tends to dismiss this logic when addressing educational issues.
Want to figure out how to close the so-called achievement gap? Get together a group of teachers who close it year after year with increasingly more challenging groups of students, and actually listen to them.
Want to redesign teacher education? Do what NCATE recently did: Ask some of our highly accomplished teachers what are the characteristics of highly effective teachers and what skill sets and supports do candidates need to have in place as they move into the profession, and when do they need them.
So on, and so forth.
Sounds logical doesn’t it. But instead, what do we get? Pseudo-documentaries full of misinformation and dramatic fiction; countless (and pointless) prime-time interviews with novice, unproven, media-manipulators touted as cutting-edge education reformers. State level policies and legislation based on myths and stereotypes about the teacher union bogeyman. How will any of this really help our students?
The good news is there are tens of thousands of these hard working, highly accomplished educators across the country. Rather than ignoring them and making their work harder, our state and national leaders should be seeking them out and bringing their unique, qualified perspective to bear on these critical issues.