November 16, 2010
Statement by Randi Weingarten,
President, American Federation of Teachers,
On Report Calling for the Overhaul of
Teacher Education Programs
Teacher education programs should provide more clinical experiences for teacher candidates, forge stronger partnerships with school districts, focus on both content knowledge and pedagogy, and improve candidate selection and placement, according to a panel of experts. The recommendations are part of a report released today by the panel, which was convened by NCATE, an organization that accredits teacher education programs.
WASHINGTON—NCATE has used research, common sense and the experience of everyday educators to create a blueprint for thoughtful and dramatic improvements in the way America’s teachers are prepared for their careers. Rather than engage in a false choice about whether to continue the status quo or eliminate college-based teacher education programs altogether, NCATE wisely has focused on what is best for students.
NCATE’s call for prospective teachers to receive more clinical experience is a smart first step in a profession that sees nearly half of teachers exit in their first five years of teaching. The recommendation that teacher education programs work more collaboratively with school districts will help ensure that teacher preparation and hiring are more closely aligned to the needs of communities. Other recommendations—from establishing new research standards to revamping higher education staffing and instruction—also will help upgrade and update teacher education programs.
NCATE recognizes that improving teacher education programs will require a broad partnership that includes teachers unions, school districts and colleges of education. We urge all stakeholders to look past the ideological arguments and work collaboratively, as NCATE and the AFT have done, to improve public education. The AFT has taken this approach in our effort to revamp teacher development and evaluations, which is now moving forward in nearly 60 school districts.
The blue ribbon panel’s report, “Transforming Teacher Education through Clinical Practice: A National Strategy to Prepare Effective Teachers,” can be found at ncate.org.
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The AFT represents 1.5 million pre-K through 12th-grade teachers; paraprofessionals and other school-related personnel; higher education faculty and professional staff; federal, state and local government employees; nurses and healthcare workers; and early childhood educators.