While it is valid to argue that some graduate programs in teaching are in fact "cash cows" as they do nothing to prepare their students for the realities of a classroom, it is also valid to argue that if one is searching for the one thing that will improve education, just keep looking ["What You Should Consider Before Education Graduate School," usnews.com]. There are weak and ineffective graduate programs with nothing built into the program to give teachers hands-on experiences in the classroom or are giving students idyllic experiences that are nothing like what they will actually face in a real classroom. There are people who have delusions about teaching as an easy profession where the day begins at 8:30 a.m. and ends at 3:30 p.m. Teaching is a gift. Good teachers can handle just about any classroom. If the environment is engaging enough and the teacher cares enough to forge relationships with their students, even some of the worst students will get involved. Standardized tests do a very poor job of assessing the multiple intelligences our children have. How do these state tests assess interpersonal intelligence; artistic intelligence; musical intelligence? They don't. Yet these tests are, for many school districts, the determining factor on whether our children are succeeding.
Comment by Valerie Valentine of NY
I think it is important to examine not only graduate schools but also undergraduate programs. As a school administrator, I see young, eager teachers coming into the field who are overwhelmed by the reality of educating today's students. They are not prepared to differentiate instruction to meet the needs of all students. They are not skilled at managing a classroom with several small groups of students running at the same time. They are unsure how to set up a grade book, assess students accurately, and communicate those grades to parents in an effective manner. Most problematic is the fact that these young teachers are often woefully unprepared to teach in this era of high-stakes accountability. Schools of education, of which I have graduated from three different ones, have to get off the sidelines of education and become partners with school systems. In Maryland, we have a network of Professional Development Schools (PDS) where local universities partner with local schools to provide education students with internships and allow local schools to benefit from the knowledge and expertise of the college professors. It seems to be working quite well and the teachers we have hired to work in our schools are prepared to "hit the ground running" so to speak.
Comment by Dr. Lisa Donmoyer of MD
Teachers need to come from the top third of college graduates, not the bottom, if we are to have well respected individuals who can compete for higher salaries. Teachers need to be compensated like those in other professions with similar educational experience (JD, MBA, etc.) but won't until we get a higher caliber of people wanting to come out and teach. Higher salaries will probably have to be the trick.
Comment by John of CA
It seems to me that teacher certification could be freed from the schools of education. The process of learning to teach children is not dependent on attending college classes in any meaningful way any more than designing buildings is learned at architecture school. Both are learned by collaborating with others, by serving an apprenticeship with a master, and by practicing over time. Some people are not cut out for the job, and counseling them out of education is a wise and humane thing to do for all concerned. Many graduates of law school end up not practicing law; some end up teaching school. Let's not get too huffy. Better to think about what is best for children and for learning.
Comment by Bruce John son of CT