A second post in recent weeks from Inside Higher Ed on teacher preparation, this time on a new program called TeachingWorks out of the University of Michigan. You know, I’m not saying that I have all the wisdom and knowledge there is to know about teacher preparation. I’m just a humble former public school teacher who went to graduate school for four years, and now I’m a junior faculty member in his first three years. I look at the folks working at TeachingWorks, probably higher on the faculty food chain, not going to lie about that.
Do they not see the connections and ultimate outcomes of this brand of teacher preparation? You know what, I have no vision right now, not even completely sure how I’d like to see it happen. But here’s this:
“TeachingWorks has the support of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education and the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education. The leaders of both organizations expressed optimism that Michigan’s work could benefit new teachers and perhaps become a national standard.”
A national standard. A national teacher preparation curriculum, a national common core curriculum, common assessments, what’s going on here? Some will claim that our diversity is the problem, so we can’t compare ourselves to Finland. Well, the solution then is to standardize, sterilize, and flatten teaching and learning so it’s the same from one state to the next? That doesn’t make sense.
NCATE and AACTE both affiliate with folks who are part of this accountability-plus movement, driven by tests. A national teacher preparation curriculum would be another chess piece moving into position. Think about it. You have a common curriculum, common assessments, then a common teacher preparation curriculum. Test data is collected at every stage. It is amassed into a giant national database, likely provided by Microsoft. You can do all sorts of statistical magic with these numbers. Anyone with a computer and SPSS could make some stunning conclusions. With that, some will claim that my value as a teacher educator could be based on the test scores of my former students’ students. Wait, what? I have a former student, moves to Oregon, works with kids. Then, you take the kids’ test scores and evaluate my performance back on the East Coast.
Someone explain to me how in the hell that makes sense. And don’t get me started on this org’s connections to TFA and other folks. TFA, I mean, wouldn’t that be an absolutely insane contradiction?