Bruce Baker of Rutgers has taken it on himself to dissect the claims and plans of the “reformers” about teacher education.

The reformers hate traditional ed schools, even those connected to major flagship universities. They blame them for accepting bottom third students and then training them poorly.

Baker looks at the issues and examines the “cures” offered by the reformers, none of which will solve any of the problems that identify.

Baker pointed out in an earlier post (and repeats it here) that most of master’s degrees in education are now being generated not by mainstream ed schools but by online universities (mostly for-profit). Won’t alternate routes simply expand the reach of online universities of dubious quality? How will that attract the top third into teaching?

Here is his conclusion:

To me, these trends are pretty astounding, and serious consideration of these trends must play into any discussion that alarmists might have about the supposed decline in the quality of teacher and administrator preparation (to the extent these alarmists give serious consideration to anything).  Those ringing these alarm bells seem more than happy to suggest that the obvious problem lies with traditional “ed schools” (read, regional and state flagship public colleges and universities) and that the obvious solution is to provide more alternative routes, online options – teacher preparation by MOOC…  (and likely not a MOOC delivered by Stanford U. faculty… but rather through Walden, Capella and the like) & expansion of schools relying on imported, short term labor supply.

I also find it strange to say the least that those who argue that the problem is that our teachers don’t come from the upper third of college graduates seem to believe that the solution is to expand the types programs that tend to grow most rapidly among colleges that cater to the bottom third (less & non-competitive).  To those reformy alarmists who feel they’ve identified the obvious problems and logical solutions, the above data should make sufficiently clear that we’ve already gone down that road.

Further, I’m thoroughly unconvinced that new models purporting to be more selective in the teachers they prepare, but relying largely on a self-credentialing model (we use our teachers to credential our teachers… and only accept as graduate students those who work in our schools?) focused primarily in ideological & cultural indoctrination   are a step in the right direction.  I have little doubt they’ll find a captive audience to self-credential and maintain a viable “business model,” (by requiring their own teachers to take courses delivered by their peers & bosses to achieve the credentials needed to keep their jobs) but this endogenous, back-patting self-validating model is no way to train the future teacher workforce.*

All of this begs the question of what next? Where do we go from here? How to we achieve integrity and quality in the production of degrees and credentials, and more broadly training and preparation of future teachers and administrators? I really don’t have any answers for these questions right now. But I’m pretty sure that the last two decades have taken us the wrong direction!