Will There Be Teachers' Colleges in the Future?
in the day, teachers went to two-year "Normal Schools" between high school and
their teaching jobs. They were more like trade schools than colleges. A high
school education was thought to be a satisfactory background for teaching, with
an additional two years to work in the specific tasks of teaching. Might it be
smart to head back in that direction, maybe on the elementary level?
a possibility, although the reason our nation switched teacher education from
two years to four years decades ago was to try to professionalize teaching, not
only to improve its methods but also to justify higher salaries for teachers.
A more common suggestion is to do
away with teachers' colleges altogether. If you want to become a teacher, you
go to college and major in a content area such as mathematics, science, English
or psychology. After that, you get a job with a school district and receive a
year or two of on-the-job training, being mentored and trained intensively as
Still another model, promoted by
former U.S. Education Secretary Rod Paige, is to make a teachers' college more
like medical school. Just as med schools operate clinics in which to train
their student doctors, Paige suggested that education departments in colleges
and universities partner on a charter school and use it to train the next
generation of teachers. That way, they get more practical, real-world experience,
rather than sitting in a classroom studying "ivory tower" theories.
Nationally, there's a controversy
over the value of teachers' colleges in general and the education major in particular.
It appears that there's an oversupply of teachers with only so-so preparation
and quality, for various reasons. Less than 40% of education majors who
graduate from college find jobs in teaching. In most states, the number of new
education graduates outstrips the number of job openings available in that
Also, in most universities with a
college of education, it is typical to graduate more students than it admitted
as freshmen. It's the opposite with most other disciplines within the academy.
The reason is the virtually open-door
admission policies and requirements of teachers' colleges. Those students who
are in danger of failing elsewhere can switch majors to Education to find a
place with low enough standards for them to get passing grades.
If you have the audacity to suggest
that maybe admissions/graduation requirements to the Ed College should be
tightened, you get the incredulous "we can't do that because it's a tremendous
cash cow for the university" argument. Education typically costs a great
deal less money to run as a college major than it takes in from student
tuition. So it produces a net gain, financially, that can subsidize overages in
other areas of university spending. That's a financial incentive for schools to
keep things the way they are.
So not only is there an oversupply
of education graduates, their schooling is devalued in the eyes of many employers
and taxpayers because of their relatively "easy" course requirements, compared
to majors in the hard sciences and other fields.
the website of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education: