Friday, July 05, 2013

Eli Broad: A BETTER WAY TO TRAIN TEACHERS + smf’s 2¢ and some mail

Too few aspiring classroom teachers receive the training and support they need to be effective.

L,A. Times Op-Ed by Eli Broad |

Teachers need more training and support

Clarksdale High School students study math in Clarksdale, Miss. (Rogelio V. Solis / Associated Press / February 15, 2013)

July 3, 2013  ::  If America's medical schools were failing to offer their students the academic content and practical experience necessary to provide high-quality healthcare, we would be outraged.

But that's exactly what happens in most undergraduate and graduate schools of education. According to a new report from the National Council on Teacher Quality — which was funded by 62 organizations, led by the Carnegie Corp. and the Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation — too few aspiring classroom teachers receive the training and support they need to be effective. And that disconnect has alarming implications not just for them but for the future of K-12 public education.

Eight years in the works, the "Teacher Prep Review" examined admissions standards, course requirements and content, student teaching manuals and graduate surveys for more than 1,100 college and university programs. Together, these programs prepare two-thirds of our nation's new K-12 teachers, so what they do matters a lot. But fewer than 10% of them earned at least three stars in this report's four-star rating system. Just four of those are located in California: UC Berkeley, UC San Diego, UC Irvine and the University of Redlands.

This new study shines a critical light on the strongest teacher training programs so that others can learn from their success and model best practices. It also gives aspiring graduate students important information about the programs they are considering — before investing considerable time and tuition — and aids K-12 school districts in their teacher recruitment efforts. The lesson is clear: If we want to improve teacher quality and elevate the status of the profession in a way that reflects how important it is to America's collective future, we can no longer ignore the way we educate and prepare them.

We know that the highest-performing countries — such as Finland and China — recruit their teacher candidates from the top third of students. Yet here in the United States, only a quarter of teacher training programs restrict admissions to applicants from the top half of their class. Among California's programs, it's fewer than 1 in 10.

Sure, raising the bar for admissions is an important first step. But it isn't nearly enough. Institutions of higher education need to take far more responsibility for the kind of education and practical experience they offer the teacher candidates they admit.

As states begin implementing more rigorous K-12 standards aimed at preparing all students for life after high school, teacher education programs must ensure that their graduates are ready to teach to those higher standards. Yet fewer than 1 in 9 elementary teacher training programs and barely one-third of high school-level training programs are preparing future teachers for this more rigorous content.

Rather than relying on schools of education to deliver on this promise, I would advocate a different approach: Help aspiring teachers develop content expertise by requiring them to study math, science, English and other core subjects for three years, and then provide top performers in each subject area with the training and support they need to learn how to teach the content.

Once they have the content knowledge, however, it is important to hone instructional techniques and gain classroom management experience through a rigorous student teaching experience. Yet 3 out of 4 education schools failed to ensure that student teachers were paired with the kind of highly skilled veterans from whom they can learn best practices.

We would never allow a medical student to perform surgery without participating in a high-quality residency program and studying under the careful eye of an experienced physician. We shouldn't force new teachers to enter the classroom without the same type of support and training.

Great teachers can make all the difference in how well a student learns. Magic happens in the classroom between amazing educators and their students. That's where a lifelong love of learning is instilled.

Every student in America deserves to have a great teacher. And that starts with ensuring that all aspiring teachers receive the training and support they need to enter the profession prepared to bring learning to life.

  • Eli Broad is founder of the Broad Foundations.

2cents smf: Yes, that Eli Broad!

Inoculate yourself. I recommend a review of all the numbers in By the Numbers, How to Tell if Your District is Infected by The Broad Virus |– with special attention to: #17: “A (self-anointed, politically connected) group called NCTQ comes to town … and writes a Mad Libs evaluation of … that reaches the predetermined conclusion that teachers…” etc.

I note that Eli pulls no punches – he admits in ¶#2 that he and the usual suspects fund the NCRQ and this study  …and I appreciate that Eli and the rest got the study they paid for.  I do agree that there is plenty of room for improvement in the teaching of Education+Educators – and many of Broads’s points are right.

But  Eli, you don’t necessarily get to take over the nation’s Schools of Ed because you gave them a bad grade.  This isn’t Public School Choice in 2008 in LAUSD!

Moreover the ®eform crowd (and Eli is their king) has to make up their mind:

  • Is Teach for America– which trains classroom teachers in a five-week-crash-summer-school course The Magic Bullet?
  • …or is more intense teacher prep is The Magic Bullet?
  • Is bringing someone like Michelle Rhee from nowhere the best way to train a superintendent?
  • …or are the Broad Academies – a correspondence school/summer seminar model – the best way? Broad’s credentials as an educator of educators are suspect …many of his superintendents haven’t fared well.
  • Is there any value in paying one’s dues and actually getting experience in the classroom and the front office – working with students and families and teachers in schools.?
  • Eli Board and Bill Gates and the Waltons and Parent Revolution (and Wayne LaPerre) notwithstanding: Maybe there are no magical firearms. No easy buttons. No Superman to wait for. Maybe the app-for-that is hard work and study and practice, practice, practice.

Letters: Training teachers

L.A. Times Letters to the Editor Re "How to train a teacher," Opinion, July 3 |

July 5, 2013

Eli Broad's analysis of the data on teacher training avoids a key variable. If public education continues to be used as a battlefield for politics, teacher quality will continue to be an evanescent goal.

Over the years, teachers have realized they have little say in how they carry out "education" in classrooms. Rather, they await the latest panacea promulgated by their superiors. Teaching has become a reaction to the latest directives from above.

A better solution would be to revere and promote the teaching profession. Teacher training programs need to emphasize flexibility and creativity in the classroom. Collegiality and collaboration within the ranks of professional learning communities need to be promoted. Teachers need more classroom observation and less lecturing about the latest educational fads.

If you tell teachers they are doing it wrong and train them according to the latest panacea, they'll go back to the classroom and implement the program. If you present them with a problem, tell them to use their professional skills to solve it and give them adequate resources, they'll succeed.

Bob Bruesch


  • The writer, a 1997 inductee into the National Teachers Hall of Fame, is a member of the Garvey School District Board of Education.

Broad highlights an important disjunction in graduate education in the United States.

In schools of education, the underlying assumption is that if students are taught how to teach, then they can teach almost anything. In contrast, in discipline-specific graduate programs such as English and biology, the assumption is that if students are taught content knowledge, they can teach that subject. Unless they are in a school of education, most graduate students do not take even one course in how to teach.

Both extremes are equally wrong, and Broad's recommendation for potential teachers to take courses in both subject content and teaching is right on the mark.

Dan Caldwell


  • The writer is a distinguished professor of political science at Pepperdine University.

When I first saw Broad's Op-Ed article on teacher training, I initially thought, "Here we go again with another outsider perspective." But I think Broad made some salient points, particularly in his views on training being more content-based as opposed to focusing only on teaching strategies.

I've always felt that what is taught is as important as how it's taught. When I first began teaching in 1978, the Ryan Act addressed this balance, ensuring that undergraduates didn't enter the profession with only an education major.

In my 35-year career, I found the most effective educators were those teaching a subject within their major or those who had demonstrated more than a cursory knowledge of the material. I'm glad Broad realizes this and is working to encourage training programs to emphasize subject knowledge along with instructional strategies.

Lynn Robert Fairbanks

Diamond Bar

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