On February 27, the U.S. House subcommittee on elementary and secondary education and the subcommittee on higher education held a hearing titled “Exploring Efforts to Strengthen the Teaching Profession.”
Witnesses included Marcy Singer-Gabella, professor of the Practice of Education at Vanderbilt University (TN), along with two officials from state departments of education and the director of an alternative-route program.
When Mary Brabeck, dean of the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development at New York University, agreed to grant me a recorded in-person interview (see link below) regarding her new role as board chair of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP), I was thrilled.
It is fair to say that I have a long-standing relationship with Mary Brabeck. In 2005, Dean Brabeck chaired the Board of AACTE when I was selected to be the president and chief executive officer.
Earlier this month, I participated in a workshop of the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation’s State Alliance for Clinical Preparation and Partnerships in Louisville, Kentucky. The 11 states in the alliance (Alabama, Colorado, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Oregon) have formed a network to improve the systemic infrastructure supporting high-quality clinical experiences for teacher candidates. Mark LaCelle-Peterson, senior vice president for Engagement, Research, and Development at CAEP, framed the discussions over the 3 days with the following quote: “We have a system of education, but we do not have a system of clinical preparation.”
On December 12, I attended a hearing in the U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) billed as “Accreditation as Quality Assurance: Meeting the Needs of 21st Century Learning.” This was one of a series of 13 hearings the Committee is holding in preparation for the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act.
Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) chaired the hearing, and Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) sat as ranking Republican on the Committee. Other members in attendance were Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Al Franken (D-MN), and Christopher Murphy (D-CT). A full recording of the hearing along with written remarks from speakers can be found here. (You will note my presence in the audience!)
Last summer in its 2013 Teacher Prep Review, the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) set forth recommendations for state and local policy makers who want to see the ratings increase for educator preparation programs in their jurisdictions. One of these recommendations was to “revamp current inspections of teacher preparation programs, performed as a condition of program approval.” Positing that neither state program approval site visits nor national accreditor site visits have proven to be meaningful, NCTQ recommended that states employ independent inspectors, along the lines of the British inspectorate model for preparation programs, to conduct program evaluation site visits and program evaluations.
As I witnessed this summer’s commemorative 50th anniversary celebrations of major U.S. civil rights events, I was reminded of my personal experiences from those times—and thought in particular of my high school English teacher, Mrs. Ruby Archie.
My city, Danville (VA), was one of the last in the country to fully desegregate its elementary and secondary schools. Before its desegregation, Danville had one high school for White students and another one for Black students. My first day at the consolidated high school is one that I will never forget. My Black classmates and I were met at the entrance of the school by police officers, belts off and buckles down and at the ready, holding dogs tethered to a leash. As our first day progressed and tension remained high, all Black students were sent to the gym and the doors closed behind us. Mrs. Archie forced her way into the gym and made it clear that none of us would remain in that gym without her, our teacher, present. She cared and was willing to risk her employment to protect us.