Part Two: Are Teacher Colleges the Weakest Link in the Public Education System?

A couple weeks ago, we posted a response blog to Marc Tucker’s blog titled, ‘Teacher Colleges: The Weakest Link,’ where he directly linked schools of education and teacher performance. In ‘Teachers Colleges as the Weakest Link: Part Two,’ Tucker elaborates on the role states must take to turn teacher colleges from the weakest to the strongest link in our education system.

Why are our schools of education so weak? Tucker gives two arguments: “rather than exercising the kind of leadership they should have exercised, they have chosen instead to retreat within their shell or they are the prisoners of the environment they find themselves in and cannot change that without help from the state.”

Like mentioned in Part One, schools of education rank low on the university's status hierarchy and that needs to change. Despite a potential drop in enrollments, teacher colleges must raise their standard of admissions to gain status and ensure classrooms are being filled with quality teachers. But like most things, it is easier said than done.

Teachers make up the largest single profession in the United States, however, the universities responsible for training these teachers are expected to operate on a “bare bones budget.” Aside from lack of funding, the stigma surrounding teacher colleges is so unfavorable that universities are completely eliminating teacher colleges in hopes to boost their level of prestige. “So it turns out that schools of education are often not allowed to do what is necessary to raise their status within the university by raising their standards but can be jettisoned for having low standards,” Tucker explains. In dire need of change, schools of education are in an impossible position where losing seems inevitable.

Elevate Teachers founder, Dr. Richard Garrett, paints a a very serious picture about teacher morale, student performance, and the current teacher crisis in his book titled, The Kids are Smart Enough - So What's the Problem?. Similar to Marc Tucker, Dr. Garrett also questions the effect schools of education are having on future teachers.

As part of his research process, Dr. Garrett met with several teachers to discuss their own experiences with schools of education. Majority of these teachers described their time in education courses as a “waste of time” and others felt the courses were helpless once placed in a classroom. This is because teachers are forced to enter classrooms without being taught the necessary tools to manage them effectively. Unless misbehaved students are immediately expelled for disruptive behavior, it is impossible to expect any teacher to succeed without having learned the proper classroom management skills.

Teacher colleges will remain the education system’s weakest link until this cycle is broken. We have to stop blaming our teachers for failing schools, instead, we must come to the defense of teachers who are being snubbed of the proper training necessary for classroom management.

The education system does not hold the power to change itself. So we have to ask— when will the state begin to take responsibility for the changes our teacher colleges so badly need?

Read Tucker’s full article HERE.