As we prepare to say goodbye to Sharon Robinson, it is important to recognize her contributions in more than a decade of service to AACTE. Leaders of the Board of Directors will be sharing tributes to Sharon’s vision and leadership over the next few weeks before her successor is named. Today, I am honored to offer my thoughts on where AACTE stands, thanks to her work, and the Association’s future role as a leading voice for educator preparation in America.
For educators and those who prepare them, sleepless nights over recent national events have unfortunately become all too frequent. The most recent public discourse regarding the confirmation of the new U.S. Secretary of Education has certainly contributed to our level of concerns. In a recent op-ed I wrote that was published in The Virginian-Pilot, “Educational Objects in the Mirror,” I asked if perhaps these events are distracting us from our real worries. As dean of the Darden College of Education at Old Dominion University (VA), I realize that what really keeps me up at night is my state and local concerns – especially the growing shortage of teachers.
The need for more teachers is a cry that I hear on a daily basis from local schools. Recently, I was aghast to find out that in my state, the Commonwealth of Virginia, elementary teachers are now included on the shortage list. Those of us in the profession recognize the significance of the state’s shortage of elementary teachers. If that group of new professionals is diminishing, we really do have some sleepless nights ahead of us.
Many of us growing up with siblings remember being told to “keep your eyes on your own plate” when issues arose or squabbles began. Those words come to my mind when reflecting on the current distractions hounding teacher education. Even as we actively promote the need for educators to think and act as one profession and to engage with various external groups, we also must not forget to mind our own business.
In addition to the uncertainty around the outcome of today’s highly contentious national election, many other factors are competing for our attention and causing us anxiety. The teacher preparation program regulations are now official, and so is the Every Student Succeeds Act. The nation is rapidly moving toward a major teacher shortage, and despite our very best efforts, we have not been able to make a significant dent in diversifying the profession. Our many critics continue to share their views on the state of university-based teacher preparation programs, and our national-level accrediting agency is still working to rise to the level it should in order to assist programs in meeting standards and improving their work. To my mind, we all could benefit from Mom’s mantra: Keep your eyes on your own plate.
The recent passing of Muhammad Ali was a sad time for many. Although I was not particularly a boxing fan, I count myself among the millions of individuals around the world who were significantly impacted by Ali’s teachings. As educators and teacher educators, we stand to benefit from discussing and embracing the steadfast resolve shown by this great legend.
My fascination and admiration with Ali began with a personal encounter while I was attending college in Pennsylvania. The champ trained for some of his boxing matches in Deer Lake, PA. Upon a Saturday night whim, a group of friends and I decided to visit his training camp. We arrived there not realizing that there were actually regular visiting hours—and unfortunately, we had missed them.
I am honored to assume the role of chair of AACTE’s Board of Directors at such an exciting time for the organization and the profession as a whole. Nine weeks into my yearlong term, I’m eager to share my excitement with you about the work we’re doing together.
Most visible so far is our focus on accreditation, particularly our efforts to initiate a collaborative dialogue with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This dialogue aims to address concerns expressed by many AACTE members while continuing our support for CAEP as the field’s unified accrediting body.
Although important—in fact, critical—for our field, our work with CAEP is but one of a large portfolio of topics on AACTE’s agenda.
Renée Middleton and I recently (April 14) wrote a blog post updating readers on AACTE’s work related to a resolution passed in February by the AACTE Board of Directors in regard to the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP). This resolution reaffirmed our association’s commitment to CAEP and also cited concerns that have been raised by many AACTE members. Our blog provided a context for the work that AACTE seeks to undertake in collaboration with the leadership of CAEP, which AACTE supports as a single unified accrediting system for our field.
AACTE has long supported the role of accreditation in the field and continues to uphold the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) as the profession’s single accreditor. This commitment was reaffirmed by the AACTE Board of Directors at its meeting February 26, 2015. Along with offering this affirmation of support, the resolution passed by the Board also sought to open a conversation with CAEP around persistent concerns raised by the field with respect to CAEP’s standards, process, capacity, and representativeness in its governance structure.
Public education lost one of its most powerful voices on Saturday, November 29, when John Goodlad passed away.
He had worked in educational institutions at all levels, teaching in a one-room school in Canada, as dean of the Graduate school of Education at UCLA, and as founder of the Center for Education Renewal (http://www.ieiseattle.org/CER.htm ) and the Institute for Educational Inquiry (http://www.ieiseattle.org ).
As a board member and officer of AACTE, I have grown to appreciate the complexity of the organization. A remarkable variety of institutions opt to unite around common interests under this “big tent” association.
Of course, you may think about AACTE membership from your own institutional perspective. Members of the Association of Independent Liberal Arts Colleges for Teacher Education (AILACTE) may view AACTE as their organization, just as members of the Council of Academic Deans from Research Education Institutions (CADREI) may view us from their perspective. Certainly, members of the Teacher Education Council of State Colleges and Universities (TECSCU), where the largest number of new educators are taught, think of AACTE from their perspective. In fact, the Board of Directors is designed to reflect the various institutional types within AACTE, with designated seats for AILACTE, CADREI, and TECSCU representatives as well as for the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities and historically Black institutions. In reality, AACTE represents the entire array of U.S. teacher preparation institutions.
Accountability is a core value of AACTE and its membership. Although the current trend toward measuring teacher preparation programs’ outcomes rather than inputs is a clear step in the right direction, it is often difficult to produce meaningful evidence of program impact amid the wide-ranging ideas of what such evidence might be. Still, our profession is ahead of the game in dealing with the performance expectations and reporting demands that now face higher education in general.