Yeah, sure, that's the problem: the schools of education. I mean, what else could possibly explain this:
Obviously, the difference in student outcomes between affluent districts and poverty stricken districts is that the teachers in the poor districts had more education history and philosophy courses in their undergraduate preparation. Makes perfect sense...
[Bangs head on keyboard repeatedly...]
Jersey Jazzman (artists's conception)
Bruce Baker has more on Duncan's incoherence. I'd just like to add two questions to the SecEd and his e-school hatin' acolytes:
1) Where is there any evidence that getting rid of education history and philosophy and developmental psychology courses and replacing them with more clinical practice leads to better teacher preparation? From the National Academies of Sciences, 2010:
Yet however they are designated, teacher preparation programs are extremely diverse along almost any dimension of interest: the selectivity of programs, the quantity and content of what they require, and the duration and timing of coursework and fieldwork. Any pathway is likely to entail tradeoffs among selectivity, the intensity of the training, and the obstacles it presents to teacher candidates. More selective pathways, and those that require greater effort and time to complete, may have the disadvantage of yielding fewer teachers to fill vacancies, for example, but the teachers they do produce may be more highly qualified.
There is some research that suggests that there are differences in the characteristics of teacher candidates who are attracted to different pathways and types of programs. There is also some research comparing the outcomes for graduates of different kinds of programs. However, the distinctions among pathways and programs are not clear-cut and there is more variation within the “traditional” and “alternative” categories than there is between these categories. We found no evidence that any one pathway into teaching is the best way to attract and prepare desirable candidates and guide them into the teaching force. This finding does not mean that the characteristics of pathways do not matter; rather, it suggests that research on the sources of the variation in preparation, such as selectivity, timing, and specific components and characteristics, is needed.
I must say that I continue to be astonished at the authority Secretary Duncan accrues to himself on topics about which experts themselves admit they actually know very little. The truth is that we just don't know if substituting more clinical practice for fewer theory courses is a good strategy for making more effective teachers. My suspicion is that Duncan wants this to be so, because he himself is remarkably ignorant about education theory: after all, if he don't need no high-falutin' book learnin' 'bout teaching, why should anyone else?There has been an extraordinary amount of work, from a variety of fields, on questions about the factors that influence the effectiveness of teaching, but this work is only a starting point. There is little firm empirical evidence to support conclusions about the effectiveness of specific ap- proaches to teacher preparation. However, we found no reason to question the recommendations professional societies have made about what is important for teachers to know. Moreover, those recommendations integrate well with the relatively small body of empirical work. The research base is strongest for reading and least strong for science, and our conclusions about preparation in the three fields reflect these differences. [emphasis mine]
My personal view is that coursework in the theory, history, and philosophy of education, along with coursework in research methods and developmental psychology, is absolutely invaluable for a practitioner. I can't tell you how many times I have found myself dealing with classroom situations where I relied on things I learned in my master degree courses. Of course, I went to a high-quality program at a state university (University of Central Florida) that sought to find a balance between clinical experiences and theoretical instruction. I understand that this is considered rather passe in the Teach For America world we now live in, but I've not seen any evidence that all the courses I took with scholars in the field were really just a big waste of my time.
2) Where's my money? Over and over, I've heard the SecEd say that I deserve to be paid more. Hey, you'll get no argument from me... so where the hell is my check?
There has never been a serious proposal put forth by the Obama administration to raise teacher pay. They've never said how they would pay for it, they've never said how much more it should be, they've never said how it should be disbursed. And yet Duncan falls back on this bromide as if it will shield him from the fact that he has shown little if any respect for practitioners (the most egregious example being how he acquiesced to locking teachers out of the development of the Common Core (great work, as always, from Anthony Cody)).
I am getting sick and tired of Duncan making me and my fellow teachers a promise he has no intention of keeping. Unless and until he develops a serious proposal to increase teacher compensation, his talk about raising pay is little more than a cheap political ploy.
I've said it before and I'll say it again: Arne Duncan is a lousy Secretary of Education. He's probably the worst appointment President Obama has made. He has no business making education policy for this nation, as he is unqualified, incoherent, and has no track record of success. That Obama appointed his basketball buddy over the extraordinarily well-qualified Linda Darling-Hammond speaks volumes about how little the president really cares about education policy.
Stick with what you're good at, I say.
Our Secretary of Education in his natural habitat.
ADDING: More from Bruce on Duncan's nonsense (better sit down for this one: the professor is in rare form!).
It is not at all a stretch to say Duncan is Obama's greatest embarrassment.
ADDING MORE: Sherman Dorn weighs in:
Do historians and philosophers of education dominate teacher ed curriculum? Don’t take my word for it: you can look at the catalog description for undergraduate elementary education majors in a large public university near you (or minors, where there is no education major). Here are a few: University of South Florida-Tampa (my current institution–that PDF is for all undergraduate programs in our college), Arizona State University (where I’ll start working in July, and which Duncan praised in his press conference Friday), and to pick on a state at random… the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Eastern Michigan, Western Michigan, and Central Michigan (For Central Michigan the PDF of the entire 2013-14 catalog). In six of those seven colleges of education, the apparently dominating theory courses comprise six or seven hours from a 120-hour program, split between educational psychology and a course lumping together all humanities and social-science perspectives on education. In no case is there an undergraduate course required for teachers that is devoted entirely to the history of education or the philosophy of education. [emphasis mine]You know, maybe Duncan could cool out with the celebrity basketball games and cable TV interviews and maybe, you know, do a little research on the topics on which he opines?
Just a thought...