The charter school movement is gaining momentum and it seems as though everyone is drinking the kool-aid. Do some public schools need to do better? Yes, some do. Does this mean we should stop training teachers? Probably not, Atkins.
The NY Times article blows my mind. When we (America at large) worry about having bad teachers, I would have to wonder if some of it has to do with the fact that alternative certification program and programs like TFA aren’t training their teachers. I'm currently in "The Teaching of Reading" with Professor Johnston, and if I've learned anything at all this semester, it's that there is no "one magical way" to teach students. There are better strategies and worse strategies, but the teacher's background information and beliefs about how students learn are the most important things. I am skeptical of this panacea approach to training teachers from the get-go.
I feel a certain sort of way about being “beyond ideology” concept at Relay. I think being “beyond ideology” sounds like a specific kind of ideology of ignorance, and that is just as dangerous as a radically liberal or conservative motivator. Coming from a founder who also has his fingers in the charter school pie, I can’t say I’m horribly surprised. It only seems natural that once in control of the schools to expand that control to the teachers in them as well. Give it time. If this keeps up, our sweet charter school indoctrinated students will grow up, have their own children, maybe, and send them to those inspiring model schools they themselves attended. It does not sit well with me. (In other news, Soylent Green is people.)
Venture philanthropy is motivated by neoliberalism? You don't say, Saltman! He also says that teaching is a political act and warns that the deregulation of teacher training would have serious political consequences. As he outlines a plan for the professionalization of teaching, I am reminded of Professor Palmer's triangle of the players in eduction: theory, policy and practice. In order to be effective teachers (practice), there needs to be a solid foundation in both theory and policy. Ideally, all three should inform each other, but that is rarely the case. Yet, if teaching can become professionalized, that may just be the impetus needed to empower educators to become more involved in the other two areas and vice versa. The three areas are too disconnected now, and even with teacher empowerment it is not fair to expect teachers to do all the work within the triangle alone.
The Gates Foundation is not alone in their desire to reform teacher education. I, too, see the need for reform. My reform doesn't include the complete deregulation of the teacher certification process in a feverish quest to raise test scores. Saltman notes, "Broader and more holistic concepts of understanding, wisdom, the education of the whole person from the enlightenment tradition...are diminished in this view in favor an instrumentalized conception of knowledge," (116). I see reformed teacher certification with more focus on multicultural education, and more reflection on the codes of the culture of power. I want teachers to be aware of their own beliefs and their schema, and I want them to be in classrooms that are not scheduled down to the minute, but have the flexibility to move with students' interest. Test score measurements continue to do more harm than good. We have to see teaching as bigger than test scores if we want real change.