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Should States Be Wary of ESSA Provisions On Teacher Preparation Programs?

Should States Be Wary of ESSA Provisions On Teacher Preparation Programs?

Teacher preparation programs have been a hot topic for some time as states search for ways to improve theirs (see: New Jersey).

But while many are celebrating the new education legislation- the Every Student Succeeds Act- as a valuable follow-up to its predecessor, some critics are not impressed by how the act handles teacher preparation.

According to Kenneth Zeichner, professor of teacher education at the University of Washington at Seattle, the now-passed Every Student Succeeds Act has some provisions on teacher preparation that should raise concern.

Zeichner talks about the inclusion of a bill called the GREAT Teachers and Principals Act, known as the GREAT act, which did not pass in the original version of the bill in the Senate but was included in ESSA’s final compromise.

The purpose of the bill, Zeichner says, is to "provide public funds for promoting the growth of entrepreneurial teacher education programs such as the ones seeded by New Schools Venture Fund (for example, Relay, MATCH Teacher Residency and Urban Teachers) that are mostly run by non-profits,” according to The Washington Post.

The problem here, says Zeichner, is not with the fact that public funds will be used to promote innovation in education. Instead, he holds fault with provisions in the bill that will create fast track teacher programs, which under the legislation can hold the same clout as programs that require traditional certification.

And even more disturbing to Zeichner is that the ESSA provides opportunity for these programs to be exempt from standards that states use for academy prep programs. 

He says that this leads to the “[t]he most troubling aspect of the new legislation in regard to teacher preparation," which "is its attempt to lower standards for teacher education programs that prepare teachers for high-poverty schools.”

He argues that the legislation places "restrictions on states [that] would interfere with their responsibility to define the content and methods of approval for teacher education programs and would set a lower bar for teachers who are prepared in the academies,” particularly damning to the high-needs schools that need quality teachers the most.

"Imagine the federal government supporting medical preparation academies or other professional preparation academies where the faculty would not be required to have the academic qualifications required by the states and accrediting bodies.”

Zeichner insists that this intended deregulation of the K-12 education market through fast-track non-university programs will not lead to the intended goal of increased innovation; instead, he argues that states should be wary of the potential backlash such legislation could mean. 


Read the full story.

Article by Nicole Gorman, Education World Contributor


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