Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Education in the News: "Higher Calling"

Slate's recent article, "Higher Calling" by Amanda Ripley, lauds states that are raising the bar of entry to become a teacher. It cites countries such as Finland as evidence that making teaching a more respected profession will lead to better educational outcomes. I couldn't agree more. While it certainly isn't a magic bullet, making teaching programs more rigorous and setting the bar way, way higher to actually become a teacher would go a long way. It might seem ironic that I feel that way since I'm teaching through the program Teach for America, with its infamously short preparation program. But Teach for America has something in common with the universities of Finland mentioned in the article-- it accepts roughly the same percentage of applicants (education universities in Finland accept ~10% and TFA accepts ~6%).

Ripley writes, 


"Unlike the brawls we’ve been having over charter schools and testing, these changes go to the heart of our problem—an undertrained educator force that lacks the respect and skills it needs to do a very hard 21st-century job." 

I don't think the "brawls" over charter schools and testing are unimportant, but I do agree that a high quality teacher force is essential.  Politicians and people in general are always saying how hard teaching is and how much they respect teachers, which I always think is odd.  Becoming a teacher is easy-- there are practically no admission standards for most education programs, and most state teacher exams are laughably easy.  Being a GOOD teacher is exceptionally hard, but to assume all teachers are good teachers insults the profession.

Check out the article here.

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