The Relay “Graduate School of Education” is a hoax, as the article below argues. It is not a graduate school at all. Its location is a post office box. It has no scholars, no researchers, no faculty other than charter teachers. It is a trade school for teaching tricks of test-taking and how to control black and brown children and teach them to obey orders without questioning.
Despite the opposition of legitimate teacher education professionals, the Malloy administration in Connecticut has approved the Relay “Graduate School of Education” to offer faux degrees. This undermines the teaching profession and demeans legitimate degrees and certification.
Before the decision was announced by the Malloy administration, Jonathan Pelto cited a recent article by Professor Lauren Anderson, chair of the Education Department at the prestigious Connecticut College.
Anderson warns the public and state officials not to approve the “Relay Graduate School of Education,” which is a program that trains teachers how to raise test scores and maintain no-excuses discipline. Its Bible is Doug Lemov’s “Teach Like a Champion.” Relay is selling itself as an answer to the shortage of well-prepared teachers of color, but its rigid and limited methods do not deliver on that promise, nor do they produce well-prepared teachers of any color.
She wrote that the Relay proposal
is being framed as a solution to minority teacher recruitment and an engine for ameliorating educational inequities. In fact, Relay is no panacea for our pipeline problems, and instead represents the tip of an approaching iceberg that threatens the education of the state’s most under-served students and sells short the very teachers to whom we owe the best preparation, support, working conditions, and compensation available.
WHAT IS RELAY GRADUATE SCHOOL OF EDUCATION?
First, it is not a graduate school in any recognizable sense. It is a charter-style network of independent teacher preparation programs created by the leaders of three prominent charter school chains (Uncommon Schools, KIPP, and Achievement First), primarily as a means to bypass traditional teacher education. Relay has recently set up shop in New Haven, where it has reportedly enrolled a cohort of candidates who will finish its one-year program this academic year, despite the fact that it has not received approval as a preparation provider.
Its “campus” address is a PO Box; its offices are co-located in a partner charter school; its faculty are unnamed and not required to hold degrees comparable to teacher educators elsewhere; and its nationwide curriculum has been critiqued for emphasizing methods that are reductive and control-oriented, rather than research-based and conducive to critical thinking.
In short, Relay would lower the bar for teacher preparation in Connecticut, increasing the likelihood that students in districts such as Hartford, Bridgeport, and New Haven would receive teachers who have not met the same standards of preparation as those in more affluent districts.
WHAT IS THE HARM IN APPROVING RELAY?
For candidates in targeted districts, the harm would come from providing a program that doesn’t honor their potential as professionals and would not be deemed acceptable preparation for those certified and employed elsewhere in the state.
For students in targeted districts, the harm would come from providing their teachers with preparation that is based on a reductive, behaviorist view of teaching and learning, and that emphasizes the kind of techniques shown to narrow the curriculum and adversely affect students’ socio-emotional development. For targeted districts and the communities they serve, the harm would come from partnering with a provider that has no credible research base to support its claims to effectiveness or to indicate that it will improve minority teachers’ retention in urban schools. For the public, the harm would come from establishing a pathway into teaching that is not accountable to the profession or state in ways that most other programs are.
To call Relay a “graduate school of education” is an insult to legitimate graduate schools of education. It is a hoax. It has no campus; it has no research; it has no scholars; it has no library. Its methods are behaviorist and limited. It should be sold as a trade school for future charter teachers, not a “graduate school of education.” It undermines the education profession by giving fake credentials to ill-trained “teachers” and sending them to high-needs schools where children deserve well-qualified, well-prepared teachers.