Stanford education professor Linda Darling-Hammond takes a sobering look at U.S. teacher training in a guest column for the Washington Post’s Answer Sheet blog. (This is another great referral from Jordan, who is going to start charging me a finder’s fee.)
Founding director of the National Commission on Teaching and America’s Future, Darling-Hammond writes about the first ever International Summit on Teaching and the growing efforts of academically forward-thinking nations to recruit, train and retain great teachers.
While noting all the firsts associated with the summit, Darling-Hammond said, “And it was, perhaps, the first time that the growing de-professionalization of teaching in America was recognized as out of step with the strategies pursued by the world’s educational leaders.”
Among her other comments:
Perhaps most stunning was the detailed statement of the Chinese Minister of Education who described how – in the poor states which lag behind the star provinces of Hong Kong and Shanghai – billions of yen are being spent on a fast-paced plan to improve millions of teachers’ preparation and professional development, salaries, working conditions and living conditions (including building special teachers’ housing) The initial efforts to improve teachers’ knowledge and skills and stem attrition are being rapidly scaled up as their success is proved.
How poignant for Americans to listen to this account while nearly every successful program developed to support teachers’ learning in the United States is proposed for termination by the Obama administration or the Congress: Among these, the TEACH Grants that subsidize preparation for those who will teach in high-need schools; the Teacher Quality Partnership grants that support innovative pre-service programs in high-need communities; the National Writing Project and the Striving Readers programs that have supported professional development for the teaching of reading and writing all across the country, and the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, which certifies accomplished teachers and provides what teachers have long called some of the most powerful professional development they ever experience in their careers.
These small programs total less than $1 billion dollars annually, the cost of half a week in Afghanistan. They are not nearly enough to constitute a national policy; yet they are among the few supports America now provides to improve the quality of teaching.
–From Maureen Downey, for the AJC Get Schooled blog