Keep an eye on this NCATE project on clinical experiences for teachers. It’s a big step for the organization and a signal for the field. Inside Higher Ed is here, Chronicle of Higher Ed is here. Disc: I’m on the panel. Backstory: here’s NCATE President Cibulka at AEI last year.
Update: In the comments section Claus von Zastrow, Minister of Propaganda for the education status quo, and a second commenter don’t see much news in the NCATE project. This is old news they say. OK. If it’s old news, and seemingly so widely supported, then why hasn’t the idea gone further in more than two-decades?
Perhaps it’s because it is challenging on the politics and the substance, hence why Jim Cibulka deserves credit for taking it on.
Any real shift toward “clinically” oriented training would necessarily involve a shift away from traditional colleges of education toward more job-embedded training. This wouldn’t eliminate the need for education professors but would change the composition of much of the work. The colleges and the people who work in them are not stupid and know what that would mean at some level…jobs. Hence one source of quiet resistance. Because costs are an issue everyone knows that at some level the resource question is a zero-sum one and new training can’t be layered on the old. Another major obstacle.
While I’m not going to blog the NCATE panel’s discussions, I’m not giving away any secrets by noting that even among those disposed toward these ideas there are big consensus gaps around how much pluralism should exist in teacher preparation, how to structure and evaluate these programs, and even what effective teaching is really about. I’ve been privileged to serve on the oversight committees/boards of two education schools, at UVA and Harvard, and the challenges of leadership and change in these institutions are daunting and fascinating even more so in my experience than some other departments. The good deans deserve more credit than they get.
It’s important to remember that while the debate about teacher preparation is often characterized as Linda Darling-Hammond versus the reformers, that’s really not quite right. Rather, it’s Linda and the reformers debating both with each other but also at the same time with much of the ed school establishment. In other words there is a no-change camp and then several different change camps. In the relative world of education politics the ed schools much prefer Linda to the alternatives but given the choice they’d take ‘none of the above.’
That’s why progress is slow and it’s why given the challenges of the debate anyone willing to take it on rather than take the easy path deserves credit. Cibulka could have done the latter. And it’s also why the work of this panel, if it can generate a strong report with actionable ideas, could help move the field because of the lever that NCATE could be.