Phi Beta Cons

Sorting Wheat from Chaff in Education Schools

In order to obtain the necessary license to teach in public schools, future teachers must in most cases go through a state approved education school program. Education schools have justifiably taken a lot of criticism over the last few decades, going back to Rita Kramer’s Ed School Follies (1991) and earlier. Are there better, more effective, less costly ways of preparing an individual for the important job of teaching? Without doubt, but due to government interference, we don’t allow marketplace discovery to work here. Therefore, programs that do little to properly train teachers (or even “miseducate” them, as Kramer argued) remain perfectly viable. There is no feedback loop.

The National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ) has been trying to improve that situation. It can’t change the fundamental problem of licensing that ensures ed schools a captive market, but it can and has endeavored to rate education schools, with the idea that if those who hire teachers have information that indicates which ed school programs and good and which ones aren’t, that will generate pressure on the poor schools to improve.

In today’s Pope Center piece, Jesse Saffron examines the new NCTQ report. Few ed school programs get high marks from NCTQ. At a great many, admission standards are very low and the work is easy. Education is a major that appeals to many students simply because it doesn’t demand much effort to get high grades. Worse yet, many ed school programs take an “anything goes” approach to the important subject of reading. At the Pope Center event where NCTQ president Kate Walsh spoke last Friday, she stated that one program told students to come up with their own philosophy on how to teach reading. Instead of relying on knowledge about what works best in teaching reading, ed schools often go with approaches that don’t work, or no approach at all.

Several years ago, an inside critic of ed schools, Professor George Cunningham, observed in this Pope Center paper, that ed schools often are more interested in promoting “progressive” theories about education than in ensuring that their grads know how to instruct students in the knowledge and skills they will need. Little has changed, apparently.

George Leef — George Leef is the director of research for the John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy.

Most Popular

White House

What Is Hillary Clinton Thinking?

When Homer Simpson looks in the mirror, he sees ripped chest muscles and arms like the trunks of beech trees. When Hillary Clinton looks in the mirror, she sees America’s sweetheart. She thinks: America adores me. She thinks: America already chose me to be president once! She thinks: Everyone is comparing me ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Grassley’s Kangaroo Court

So now it looks like next Thursday. On Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s manifestly meritorious nomination to the Supreme Court, what was supposed to be the vote out of the Senate Judiciary Committee this past Thursday now appears to be sliding into a hearing to be held next Thursday. Or, who knows, maybe a Thursday ... Read More
Law & the Courts

Censure Dianne Feinstein

Regardless of the fate of Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination, the Senate should censure the ranking Democratic member of the Judiciary Committee, Dianne Feinstein. Her deception and maneuvering, condemned across the political spectrum, seriously interfered with the Senate’s performance of its constitutional duty to ... Read More
U.S.

Are We on the Verge of Civil War?

Americans keep dividing into two hostile camps. It seems the country is back to 1860 on the eve of the Civil War, rather than in 2018, during the greatest age of affluence, leisure, and freedom in the history of civilization. The ancient historian Thucydides called the civil discord that tore apart the ... Read More