Berkeley universities

It’s time for states to break away from teaching colleges

Colleges of education instil in future teachers the values ​​and abilities they want them to demonstrate in the classroom. But what if those values ​​and pedagogical approaches don’t serve students well? What if colleges of education trained teachers to deliver divisive content and especially critical race theory?

Colleges of education have a long history of teacher accreditation in the United States. But today, many of these schools indoctrinate future teachers with CRT, while doing little to improve actual classroom effectiveness.

At the nation’s top-ranked teaching colleges, nearly half (48%) of faculty list running as a research interest or area of ​​study. This is, of course, a privileged area of ​​interest. But as Rick Hess and I found out from the American Enterprise Institute, up to a third of teachers in schools of education who study race do so through the dubious lens of the CRT.

When teachers’ teachers focus on how to “resist the neoliberal logics that make math learning a project to stratify race, class, and gender in schools,” as one associate professor from Berkeley, it’s no surprise that such approaches to math are making their way into the K-12 classroom.

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And could the misfocus come at a worse time? The latest national assessment of school progress revealed that the math scores of 9-year-olds fell by seven points, the first drop on record. Reading scores fell five points, the most dramatic drop in three decades.

These students were largely second graders when the pandemic began. They were largely excluded from in-person instruction for long periods at one of the most critical times for reading acquisition. Unfortunately, poor school performance, while deeply exacerbated by COVID, is nothing new.

And putting the responsibility for teacher certification on colleges of education does not help matters.

Research shows that there is little, if any, relationship between teacher certification and student academic success. And the difference in results between traditionally certified, alternately certified, and uncertified teachers is negligible.

However, the differences in teacher effectiveness within these groups are significant. “To put it simply,” researchers Robert Gordon, Thomas J. Kane, and Douglas O. Staiger concluded, “teachers vary widely in how well they support student learning, but whether a teacher is certified whether or not is largely irrelevant to predicting its effectiveness.”

Prior to the 20th century, individuals in most professions (including teaching) gained training and experience through apprenticeships rather than college education. But, as David Labaree of Stanford University explains, following a desire to “professionalize” teaching at the beginning of the 20th century and the increase in state requirements for bachelor’s degrees, in the 1970s, teacher education had become a “100% subsidiary of the university”.

Today’s colleges of education have also influenced staff in ways that cement critical race theory and associated ideas as radical gender ideology in K-12 education through when districts hire diversity officers, or CDOs. Nearly 80% of the nation’s largest K-12 school districts now employ CDOs, reflecting the trend of steadily increasing diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) faculty. in higher education.

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In either case, DEI and CDO staff do not contribute to academic excellence or to a more intellectually diverse and welcoming school climate. Rather, they can “be best understood as political activists who articulate and enforce ideological orthodoxy” in schools across the country, according to Jay Greene and James Paul of the Heritage Foundation.

States and school districts should break away from these ineffective and divisive institutions and remove certification requirements driven largely by colleges of education. Instead, schools and school systems should promote alternative pathways to teacher certification and allow full reciprocity of teacher licensure – or end licensure requirements in favor of demonstrated expertise in the subject matter taught.

The Heritage Foundation’s new Education Freedom Report Card measures states’ performance in this regard. Florida is among the leaders, with 42% of teachers traveling to class through alternative routes. Other states are expected to follow suit. American students – and American teachers – would be better off.