Yet another editorial in a line of editorials over the years comparing physicians and medical education to that of teachers.
I even tried this myself several years ago, although my perspective was to underscore the absurdities of evaluating teachers based on test scores. On the whole, I agree with the authors that extensive, year-long residencies with regular mentoring will improve teacher preparation. Those programs do exist, actually. Some are called Professional Development Schools, and these programs have been around since at least the early to mid-1990s.
When I was a Master’s student, I worked full time as a classroom teaching assistant. I had about a year and a half of full time classroom experience before student teaching, so this made my practicum a breeze. The additional two years of life experience beyond a college degree were also beneficial. I couldn’t imagine doing the same work just a couple of years prior, given my attitude as a college junior or senior.
Here’s the problem, however, with making increase demands of teacher preparation: you have to pay teachers more on the other end to make it worthwhile. I think part of the reason physicians are paid so much, and this might apply to lawyers as well, is that their preparation programs are so expensive. There’s no way that someone would loan out so much for medical school if they weren’t paid enough to pay it back, or survive with the loan payments all those years.
I’m all for increasing GPA requirements to maintain matriculation in teacher preparation programs. I’m all for making the bar higher to become a teacher. Increase licensing requirements or make professional development to maintain certification more extensive. That’s great. You have to value the teacher on the other end, however.
Why would anyone put up with extensive training and graduation requirements if they were going to end up teaching in a state like Utah or North Carolina, for example, where starting salaries barely creep out of the 20s for a new teacher? If I was going to be saddled with huge amounts of college debt, then I’d probably choose a major that might give me a better chance of a higher starting salary.
Lots of folks like to make proposals about better teacher preparation, but don’t recommend higher salaries or benefits on the other end. Additionally, if teachers are going to experience tougher residency requirements, then you have to value teachers and give them the professional autonomy while on the job to make this worthwhile.
Otherwise, the people that you do get aren’t going to put up with the additional requirements without some guarantee of a wage that matches.