By Al Ramirez
“There you go again.” President Reagan used this quip during debates to admonish opponents about falling back on worn and weak arguments. The same quote can be applied today as the U.S. Department of Education and the Obama Administration craft rules to “fix” teacher education programs across the country. They propose applying many of the same destructive and ineffective polices to higher education that haven’t worked for preK-12 in over a dozen years of trying.
The formula looks familiar: testing, ranking, and public ridicule.
The formula looks familiar: testing, ranking, and public ridicule. The results will be the same as well. Under the proposed rules, teacher colleges will be motivated to steer their graduates away from school districts and schools that report low student achievement test scores, i.e., those serving poor and minority children and new learners of English. The colleges with greater numbers of graduates who serve the poorest children in their state will be punished the most. As a result, we can expect the same churning among alternative teacher preparation programs that we see with charter schools in high-poverty school districts. Teacher prep programs also will be incentivized to abandon goals to recruit first-generation college students and students from disadvantaged backgrounds. These are the adults who serve as role models for the preK-12 students most in need of role models.
The only good news in the proposal is the timeline, which is pushed out to 2020. The beltway policy dysfunction has been a destructive force in preK-12 education. Why subject colleges of education to these bankrupt policy ideas? Hopefully, we’ll hear from governors, state legislators, college presidents, and higher education governing boards who have the paramount duty to oversee their colleges. Hey, Washington, “there you go again.”