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Fact-Checking Romney's Teacher Claims (Education Week)

Republican Presidential presumptive nominee Mitt Romney’s first major education policy stump speech was heavy on criticism of teachers’ unions, but light overall on the details of how he’d revamp federal teacher-quality spending.

My colleagues at Politics K-12 have a great overview that you should be sure to check out. In the meantime, let’s fact-check some of Romney’s claims in his speech.

• “There are currently 82 programs in 10 agencies that spend $4 billion on teacher quality. As president, I will consolidate these programs, and block grant them to states that adopt innovative policies. For example, states will be rewarded if they regularly evaluate teachers for their effectiveness and compensate the best teachers for their success.”

The figure of 82 teacher-quality programs comes right out of this Government Accountability Office report, but the rest of the proposal is somewhat confusing. For one, fully three-fourths of the $4 billion figure is in the nearly $3 billion Title II-A state grants, which basically already are a block grant. As for consolidating programs, the Obama administration has already proposed this a number of years running, but not gotten anywhere with it. Those consolidations were envisioned as competitive grants—not a fill-out-the-paperwork-and-get-your-cash block grant.

• Romney dragged out a quote from the American Federation of Teachers’ Al Shanker, in which the late labor leader purportedly said, “When school children start paying union dues, that’s when I’ll start representing the interests of children.”

The problem with this is that Shanker may never have actually said it. Debates continue to rage about whether this quote is apocryphal or just badly documented.

• “And our job keeps getting harder because the unions wield outsized influence in elections and campaigns. … Annually, many teachers are forced to pay almost $1,000 in union dues. The two major teachers’ unions take in $600 million each year. That’s more revenue than both of the political parties combined. In 2008, the National Education Association spent more money on campaigns than any other organization in the country. And 90% of those funds went to Democrats.”

Where to start. The unions are most certainly among the biggest campaign spenders and are still probably the largest in K-12 education. But the statement confuses two things: dues and campaign dollars. Until 2010, dues money could be used for lobbying but not campaigns; unions had to keep campaign cash strictly segregated in a PAC, which members donated to voluntarily. (The “voluntary” nature of these donations, of course, can certainly be contested. As Mike Antonucci of Intercepts aptly pointed out, in states like California, PAC donations can come out of your paycheck unless you fill out often jargon-laden paperwork correctly.)

This has changed somewhat, because campaign-finance rulings now permit unions—and corporations—to spend from their dues-funded general treasuries on independent expenditures, such as campaign advertising, as long as they are not officially coordinated with candidates.

The NEA figure from 2008 seems off. At the federal level, it was 48th in the list of top donors that year, far below the American Federation of Teachers, which was No. 19. (Goldman Sachs was No. 2 that year and the realtors’ and bankers’ association were also in the Top 10.) It’s possible Romney was talking about state spending, and I will update this post once I can access the database of the National Institute on Money in State Politics, which seems to be down at the moment.

UPDATED, 5:10 p.m. Romney’s claim that the NEA is the largest spender seems to pass muster at the state level, where NEA and affiliates topped the list of donors in 2007-08 (the realtors’ association was No. 8). Keep in mind, though, that this is largely because of its ballot-initiative expenditures. Only 35 percent of its spending overall was on candidate races, or about $19 million. (When you look at it from this perspective, it spent about the same as the realtors’ association.)

• “So, President Obama has been unable to stand up to union bosses—and unwilling to stand up for kids.”

The campaign cites the administration’s bids to shutter the District of Columbia’s Opportunity Scholarships Program, which the unions pushed hard on, as evidence that it’s kowtowing to the unions. But at the same time, the Obama administration’s push to open charter schools and evaluate teachers partly on student-achievement gains have earned the administration some fairly well-publicized rebukes from the unions and raised some good questions about how many teachers are going to want to volunteer on his behalf once the campaign ground game gets started.

Romney Calls for Using Title I, IDEA Funds for School Choice (Education Week)

WASHINGTON—Presumptive GOP nominee Gov. Mitt Romney called today for making federal funding for special education and disadvantaged students portable—meaning the money would follow students to any school their parents choose, including a private school.

Under his proposal, parents could also choose to use the funds under Title I and the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act at charter schools, for online courses, or for tutoring. Title I is funded at $14.5 billion this year, and IDEA is funded at $11.6 billion, and any proposal to radically shift the use of that money would be almost certain to face a host of administrative, budgetary, and political hurdles from the Congress and statehouses on down.

Romney, who unveiled his education agenda at the Latino Coalition’s Annual Economic Summit in Washington Wednesday, is also calling for an expansion of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program, which President Barack Obama has sought to eliminate. He would also make it easier for high-quality charter schools to expand, a position that the Obama administration has also embraced.

"I will expand school choice in an unprecedented way," Romney said in the speech. "Too many of our kids are trapped in schools that are failing or simply don’t meet their needs."

When it comes to the No Child Left Behind Act, Romney would dismantle the accountability system at the heart of the law, and he calls for schools to create “report cards” with a variety of information about student progress. Schools would have report scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress—known as the nation’s report card. There also would no longer be federal mandates for improving schools under his plans.

"No Child Left Behind helped our nation take a giant step forward in bridging [the] information gap," Romney said. And he said he would do what President Barack Obama could not - get Congress to pass an overhaul of the law. "As president, I will break the political logjam that has prevented successful reform of the law. I will reduce federal micromanagement while redoubling efforts to ensure that schools are held responsible for results."

Romeny’s general approach on accountability appears to be in line with what Republicans on Capitol Hill support, including U.S. Rep. John Kline, R-Minn., the chairman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee. The panel passed an ESEA reauthorization bill earlier this year that hasn’t yet made it to the floor of the House.

But Cynthia G. Brown, the director of education policy at the Center for American Progress, a Washington think tank, worries that transparency and school choice is not going to be enough to prod schools to move the needle on student achievement.

What he’s taking out of the equation is any kind of governmental action for failure to serve these kids well,” said Brown, who served in the U.S. Department of Education under President Jimmy Carter.

The accountability proposals also prompted a host of question from Sandy Kress, a lawyer in Austin, Texas, and a former White House aide who played a key role in working with Congress to craft the NCLB law during President George W. Bush’s tenure.

"What would the expectations be for states and districts?" Kress wanted to know. "What would the expectations be for the money in terms of the report cards and for the responsibility for learning? What will the expectations be for the rigor of the standards and the consequences? That’s unclear."

Still, Kress is a fan of Romney’s ideas when it comes to school choice—and strongly supports Romney’s presidential bid.

"I really appreciate the muscular response on choice, and I think it’s appropriate," he said.

'Union Bosses'

In his speech, Romney said he would also seek to block-fund teacher quality money. That proposal appears similar to what Obama has called for in his budget requests, which have sought to combine federal programs aimed at improving teaching and leadership into a single funding stream. Romney is also aiming to knock down barriers to the teaching profession, in terms of state certification requirements.

The wide-ranging speech also attacked Obama for shying away from what Romney sees as some of the boldest reforms - including the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship program - because of pressure from the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers.

"President Obama has been unable to stand up to union bosses - and unwilling to stand up for kids," Romney said. "President Obama can’t have it both ways. He can’t talk up reform, while indulging groups that block it. He can’t be the voice of disadvantaged public school kids, and the protector of special interest."

That criticism doesn’t hold up, said Charlie Barone, the director of federal legislation for Democrat for Education Reform, a political action committee in New York City that supports candidates who embrace charter schools and other policies.

"It’s a good speech if you’ve living on another planet for the last four years," Barone said. He pointed to policies the Obama administration has supported that have angered unions, including its support for merit pay, and pushing states to raise caps on charter schools.

Voucher Comeback

Republicans in Washington have long been attracted to proposals to use federal funds for school vouchers, and in that context, Romney’s proposal is not unusual, Michael J. Petrilli, a vice president at the Thomas B. Fordham Foundation. He described the Republican candidate’s school choice proposal as “an interesting idea,” though he said it could be difficult to implement, for a variety of reasons.

Federal per-student Title I and special-education funds, on their own, are probably not sufficient to cover many private school costs, though they could help if combined with state voucher money, Petrilli said. The broader challenge is that federal funding formulas currently do not distribute Title I and other funds in ways that make it easy to give it out individually among qualified students.

On the other hand, if the federal funding stream could be overhauled so that each qualified student was given a “backpack” of funding to carry to any school, it would probably increase many disadvantaged students’ access to at least a slice of that funding, Petrilli said.

Romney is unveiling his proposal in the wake of the passage of major voucher expansions in a number of states, including Indiana and Louisiana, over the past two years, measures that were championed by Republican governors and fiercely opposed by many Democrats.

Vouchers continue to meet strong resistance in some states, particularly those where political control is divided between the parties. Romney’s proposal could help voucher advocates circumvent those prevailing political roadblocks, said Malcom A. Glenn, a spokesman for the American Federation for Children, a Washington organization that backs private school choice.

"In places where there are still entrenched interests standing in the way of reform, having a plan supported by federal funds would increase the coalition of support, which would be a good thing," Glenn said.

While the president has been much stronger than many Democrats in supporting public school choice measures, Glenn said, his opposition to vouchers presents a clear contrast with the presumptive Republican nominee. Glenn was enthusiastic about Romney’s pledge to expand the District of Columbia’s scholarship program and have it serve as a national model.

"The president has consistently stood in the way of that program, and we’ve been very disappointed by that," Glenn said. "We’d be extremely excited by any effort to expand it."

But a key special education advocacy group, which represents students who would be a major beneficiary of the proposed shift, quickly rebuffed Romney’s idea.

The proposal would add to the budget woes districts have experienced as federal stimulus money has tapered off and state contributions have shrunk, said Lindsay Jones, senior director of policy and advocacy services at the Council for Exceptional Children.

"School districts around the nation have seen deep cuts in funding over the last few years as our nation confronts a recession, increased needs, and declining revenues. These cuts have impacted districts’ ability to provide services to children in need—further cuts won’t help," she said.

Common Core, College Loans

Romney’s campaign staff said he is supportive of the Common Core State Standards, but thinks the Obama administration has gone too far in encouraging states to adopt them. Obama made college- and career-ready standards a requirement for states seeking waivers from the NCLB law. And the administration gave states credit for embracing rigorous, uniform standards under the Race to the Top education reform competition.

Those policies “effectively are an attempt to manipulate states into” adopting common core, said Oren Cass, Romney’s domestic policy director on a call with reporters prior to the speech.

When it comes to higher education, Romney favors bolstering the role for the private sector, which he contends has been decimated by the Obama administration’s choice to scrap the Federal Family Education Loan Program and ensure that all loans originate through the U.S. Department of Education.

"We welcome private sector participating instead of pushing it away," Cass said.

And even though Romney’s speech didn’t touch on the DREAM Act, the bipartisan Development, Relief and Education of Alien Minors Act came up at the venue anyway. It would provide citizenship for some undocumented who enlist in the military or go to college. Romney has not supported it.

Romney’s speech was interrupted by a college student from New York named Lucy, an undocumented immigrant. “Governor Romney,” she yelled, twice, before the crowd broke into applause to drown out her words. She was ushered outside and joined a small group of protesters bearing signs that read “Veto Romney, Not the DREAM Act.”

Studies Illustrate Plight of Introverted Students (Education Week)

Educators often look for ways to bring quiet children out of their shells, but emerging research suggests schools can improve academic outcomes for introverted students by reducing the pressure to be outgoing and giving all students a little more time to reflect.

"Whoever designed the context of the modern classroom was certainly not thinking of the shy or quiet kids," said Robert J. Coplan, a psychology professor and shyness expert at Carleton University, in Ottawa, Canada. With often-crowded, high-stimulation rooms and a focus on oral performance for class participation, he said, "in many ways, the modern classroom is the quiet kid’s worst nightmare.”

Susan Cain, the author of Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking, published by Random House this year, argues that such children often stop learning when they feel emotionally threatened in a class environment in which being an extrovert is considered the norm.

"There is too often a tendency to see it as inferior or even pathological,” Ms. Cain said, “so teachers feel they have to turn the introvert into an extrovert.”

Quiet as Stupid?

Take a typical class review session, in which a teacher asks rapid-fire questions and calls on students in turn.

"So if a teacher asks a question and the person doesn’t answer right away," Mr. Coplan said, "the most common thing is the teacher doesn’t have time to sit and wait, but has to go on to someone else—and in the back of their head might think that child is not as intelligent or didn’t do his homework."

That slowness to speak can dramatically affect a student’s success in classrooms where vocal participation and group activities are critical.

A 2011 study found teachers from across K-12 rated hypothetical quiet children as having the lowest academic abilities and the least intelligence, compared with hypothetical children who were talkative or typical in behavior.

Interestingly, teachers who were identified as and who rated themselves as shy agreed that quiet students would do less well academically, but did not rate them as less intelligent.

As many as half of Americans are introverts, according to the Center for Applications of Psychological Type, located in Gainesville, Fla.

There’s a distinction between shyness—generally associated with fear or anxiety around social contact—and introversion, which is related to a person’s comfort with various levels of stimulation.

A shy student, once he or she overcomes the fear, may turn out to be an extrovert, invigorated by being the center of attention.

By contrast, an introverted child may be perfectly comfortable speaking in class or socializing with a few friends, but “recharges her batteries” by being alone and is most energized when working or learning in an environment with less stimulation, social or otherwise, according to Mr. Coplan and Ms. Cain.

Mr. Coplan and his colleagues found differences between shy and introverted students as early as age 4: In play observations, shy children tended to hover anxiously just outside a group of unfamiliar children, while introverted children played quite happily on their own and did not attempt to approach other children.

"It seems clear," the researchers concluded, "that ‘solitude’ is an insufficient criterion for characterizing children as ‘sociallywithdrawn.’ "

In the 2011 study of teachers, the educators were more likely to respond to an over talkative student with direct intervention or social-learning strategies, while, for a quiet child, they were more likely to simply watch and wait or report the child’s behavior to the principal or parents.

"The kids who are bouncing around the room and punching people in the face need to be addressed right away. In a classroom of limited resources, that’s where the resources go," Mr. Coplan said, adding that the quiet students often get ignored.

The research is mixed on when and why quiet students are academically challenged. Previous, separate studies by Mr. Coplan; fellow Carleton University psychologist Kathleen Hughes; Mary M. Reda, an associate professor at the City University of New York; and others have found that quiet and shy students often have difficulty with class grades, but that largely comes from lower levels of class participation and oral skills.

Test-Taking Advantage

Some studies show introverted students can be better than extroverts at taking standardized tests.”Parents of extroverts have told me [those students] never actually learn to work alone, so when the time comes to take tests, … they have trouble,” said Ms. Cain, a former corporate lawyer and researcher.

On the other hand, she said, focusing too much on students’ work in a 30-to-a-room class environment doesn’t necessarily prepare students for the project-based group work more common in the workplace.

"I actually think our [science, technology, engineering and mathematics] shortages are a cultural problem as much as a pedagogical problem; the type of kid who likes to sit by himself and do math problems or science problems is not supported," Ms. Cain argued. "Most science operations are done as teams, but scientists still have quite a bit of privacy and autonomy to their workday," she said, noting that such environments are also hard to replicate in classrooms.

Friendly Setting

Bobbi MacDonald, the executive director of the City Neighbors charter schools in Baltimore, is trying to create a more introvert-friendly environment at the network’s three campuses.

"We start with play-based kindergarten and give increased independence and autonomy each year that you are in school," she said. "It used to be everyone is seated at their desks in a row, and everyone is supposed to be thinking the same thing at the same time. Those days are gone.

"When an individual needs a minute, it’s not unusual for that student to find a space."

Most City Neighbors classes have a mix of desks, tables, and small reading nooks with soft chairs, and some walls are lined with floor-to-ceiling whiteboard or tag board, so that students can work on the schools’ project-based curriculum alone or in small groups.

"Each teacher does it a little differently," Ms. MacDonald said. "In science class, the students might be in small groups, with one person as the team leader, one watching the clock, one taking minutes, and so on."

Creating smaller groups, of two or three rather than five or more, and providing clear roles for each member can help quiet students make a contribution.

Studies of college students have found that particularly in larger and unstructured groups, more-vocal members can dominate, even when they do not have the correct answer.

"There are many situations in which so much talk is not helpful, and if there is so much talk, there is less time to sit back and think," said Diana Senechal, a former New York City public school teacher and the author of the 2011 book Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture, published by Rowman & Littlefield Education.

"Those times of not entering the conversation—listening to what others say, thinking about it—can be very important," she said.

Particularly in subjects such as history, which call for students to think about connections between events and people, teachers should encourage all students to practice more listening and contemplation rather than rely primarily on class discussions and group work, Ms. Senechal argues.

In one small case study, Paul G. Barker, an educational leadership doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania, in Philadelphia, and the president of Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, in Olney, Md., interviewed graduating seniors whose teachers considered them quiet.

The students said their teachers often perceived them as less engaged in class, but they actually considered the time they took to process ideas before speaking a “learning advantage,” Mr. Barker found.

Finding Entry Points

"When you’re teaching something challenging, where the answers don’t come easily," Ms. Senechal said, "the students who like to talk will jump in quickly, and then, if the discussion is well-managed, they might find their answers are not complete.

"The quieter students who spend more time thinking about it than talking about it," she said, "may have an opportunity for entry here."

The evolution of educational technology may also help.

Ms. Cain found introverted students responded more frequently in class discussions held online, where they had time to gather their thoughts and could contribute without others talking over them. Similarly, research has shown introverted students answer questions more often when teachers use anonymous student-response systems, often dubbed clickers.

Passion can be the best motivator for an introverted student to get more involved, Ms. Cain said. At City Neighbors, for example, each middle school student is required to read 25 books during the year, and then to discuss them one-on-one with teachers.

The format is more time-consuming than the typical class-presentation book, Ms. MacDonald said, but it provides a safe environment for quiet children and those with reading problems to discuss what they read.

"Somewhere in that 25," she said, "the child will find that one book that they love, … and when that happens, the teacher is right there waiting for them."

Is Education a Girl Thing? (Education Week)

Immediately, he’s self-conscious about the language that came without thinking. We talk about how the gender makeup of the teaching force impacts the profession’s willingness to stand up for itself. How this gender disproportion impacts all kinds of issues, from why teachers can’t get family insurance (the presumption there’s a husband whose job will provide it) to why Scott Walker stripped away teachers’ rights, rather than firefighters.’ We discuss iconic women (Randi Weingarten, Diane Ravitch, Wendy Kopp) who are held up as “proof” that the national discourse on education reform is gender-diverse.

But it’s not. It’s a heavily male-dominated arena. Men are making the policy arguments and pronouncements, hosting the virtual communities and producing the media. Women are carrying out the policy orders, teaching kids to read using scripted programs and facing 36 students in their algebra classes. And when teachers are bold enough to mention this, they’re likely to be reminded that fixing public education is far more important than their “feelings” about being slighted—a depressingly familiar argument to women of a certain age who consider themselves feminists.

This is more than unsubstantiated blah-blah. There’s plenty of evidence that men are the loudest voices in the media around social issues like education. Here, here, here and here, for example. And when women are powerful, smart and respected, the negative pushback is especially vicious—on both sides of any ed-policy disagreement.

Makes me wonder: Has the “reform” movement (the one where public education is an untapped market, and testing the linchpin strategy) gotten as far as it has because those most motivated to mobilize resistance—K-12 teachers and parents—are predominantly female? If more women were writing and speaking powerfully about education policy, philosophy and practice, would public schools be perceived as America’s best, albeit neglected, hope for the future—rather than an opportunity for profit and control?

*7

The Difference between TFA "Corps Members" and Regular Teachers (Education Week)

The article, summed up in the last paragraph:

The Teach for America alumni assumed they already had a seat at the table, and a genuine voice in policy creation. The student teachers in Michigan were just trying to get hired.

Separate Education for Those in Special Education? Possibly (Education Week)

One amendment offered by Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., would have removed the requirement that teachers of students with disabilities be “highly qualified”.

Another proposal that died in the committee came from Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga. He wanted to do away with limits on how many students with disabilities could take alternate tests, which are different than those their classmates take.

"The underlying concern we have with Isakson and Paul [is that their message is] ‘It’s too difficult to accommodate you, so let’s separate you," Jones said. "When that happens, it’s separate but not equal. It’s not a 21st century vision of society."

Scholars Put Civics in Same Category as Literacy, Math (Education Week)

In his research, Keith C. Barton, an education professor at Indiana University, argues that preservice teachers need to expand their understanding of their roles as teachers. He writes that teachers must model and teach civic engagement, and that while teacher-preparation programs can help inculcate those values and skills, most don’t.

As I’ve mentioned before, my teacher prep program is not like other programs. Because the focus is on urban education, we look at issues of poverty, race, gender, social justice, and society. It’s not something just the social studies people talk about - it’s important to everyone. And I think that’s what this article is saying, if I’m not reading too much into it: all preservice teachers should be learning about civics instruction, not just the social studies teachers. Because civics affects daily life. It’s kind of like literacy, for which I took the class Teaching Literacy in the Content Areas, where regardless of our concentration we had to learn reading and writing methods.

What are your thoughts on the state of civics education?

*3

Struggling Schools and the Problem with the "Shut It Down" Mentality (Education Week)

They found that students in schools that are closed due to poor performance actually do substantially worse on reading and math tests in the new school to which they are sent for at least a year, and then recover and end up doing about as well as they were doing at their original school. In other words, after all the expense, acrimony, and heartache involved in closing a school, the students involved do not benefit.

Raise Teacher Ed. Standards, State School Boards Group Says (Education Week)

Teacher colleges need to give aspiring educators much more thorough, intense exposure to K-12 classrooms during their training—and set higher standards for admission—a group representing state school boards contends.

The National Association of State Boards of Education, in a report released today, says that experience in actual classroom settings, as well as continued mentoring once teachers are on the job, are critical to keeping top-notch educators in the job.

But the report also says that the admissions standards for many teachers’ colleges are unacceptably low—they may not, for instance, require minimum test scores or grade-point averages—and many of them draw candidates from the bottom two-thirds of their college classes.

Really? Where is this? I don’t know of any teacher prep programs that don’t have minimum GPA requirements and test scores.

(The authors did conclude, however, that boosting teacher salaries, in addition to improving working conditions, would likely lure more graduates from the top-third of college classes into the profession.)

Yes, this would help. Why become a teacher if you could make so much more money doing… any other white collar job?

The report also urges state school boards to work with teacher-licensing boards to align certification requirements and evaluation standards, and ensure that there is a system in place to monitor the quality of teacher-education programs.

Are there states that don’t monitor teacher education programs? How is that possible? Doesn’t the state board of education or department of ed or whatever have a responsibility to do that? I would have assumed every state had a process for certifying teacher prep programs and monitoring them.

………

Now, admittedly I’m rather new to the education field as a whole, and am only familiar with my little corner of it here in Minnesota. I’ve heard that our requirements are higher than other states (you can take a license from our state and easily teach in another, but not necessarily the other way around) - I don’t have any proof to back that up, but that’s what I’ve heard.

And I’m really only familiar the requirements of the specific school/teacher prep program that I’m in, and so maybe other schools and other states don’t require nearly as much as my school does.

But here’s what I do know (based on the state I live in - Minnesota, the school I attend, and the program requirements specific to my concentration of 5-12 social studies).

To be admitted to the program, you need at least a 2.5 GPA and have 40 hours working with youth. (My undegrad GPA is 3.9.) You also have to have 2 recommendations, write an essay, and other stuff that I assume all programs would require.

Before student teaching, you must complete all coursework with at least a 2.5 GPA (2.75 for us graduates, mine is 4.0 for the graduate coursework), pass the new Minnesota versions of the Praxis (because we’re too good to use the national stuff and had to write our own), and complete at least 100 classroom hours.

And then there’s the electronic portfolio, the actual student teaching, the new licensure requirements they keep adding (like now we have to submit videos)….

I gotta be honest - if it’s easier in other states, I kinda wish I lived there. Maybe I’d be done by now and teaching. They keep adding new requirements on the path to licensure, and I’m «this close» to saying screw it all (except that I only have one class and student teaching left, so that’d be stupid to do).

And if I can, just for a moment, weigh in on another side of the picture… perhaps it is not in our children’s best interest to have only geniuses and 4.0 grads teaching them. I’ve met a lot of smart people who couldn’t teach worth a darn, and who could barely hold an intelligent conversation outside of their area of specialty (and within their area of specialty, they were so advanced that unless you were also a genius, you were pretty much lost). Will the creme-de-la-creme be able to empathize with the student getting a D+, be able to understand and help him/her improve, or will they just insist that everyone should be able to get As?

I’m not saying we should put flunkies in front of our kids. That’s not the path to success. And I do want teachers to be viewed as professionals, much in the way doctors are (that metaphor has been floating around quite a bit). But in the same way that not all doctors go to Harvard Medical School, not all teachers need to be top of their class.

And, as it was brought up in a class by another student, the more requirements you have, the harder you make them, the more hoops you have to jump through (and money required for many of those hoops), the less diverse the graduates will be (actually, what he said was that minority students, of which he was one, would be deterred by all the crap they keep throwing at us). And it’s been proven that 1) minority students learn better from minority teachers, 2) our student bodies are increasingly diverse, and 3) we haven’t yet figured out how to close the achievement gap.

I’m not saying that it would be a wholly bad thing to raise the requirements for teacher prep programs. What I am saying is that there may be unforseen repercussions.

Did I overreact? Anyone want to weigh in on this?

*4

Young Men of Color: A National Crisis (Education Week)

Recommendation 3: Reform education to ensure that all students, including young men of color, are college and career ready when they graduate from high school.

Recommendation 4: Improve teacher education programs and provide professional development that includes cultural- and gender-responsive training.