Blog: The Educated Reporter

Why don’t reporters visit teaching colleges?

Secretary Duncan came down on teachers colleges yesterday. This isn’t a new concern. Yet I don’t think I have EVER read a piece in the media about what exactly people learn, and don’t learn, at schools of education. Can we fix that?

NPR has touched on the topic in its current series on teacher preparation; I hope they go deeper. I’d like to see specifics. If you write about schools, visit the college most of your district’s teachers graduated from. What exactly is the disconnect between what they’re taught there and what they need once they leave? What courses are required, and what courses do school district officials wish had been required? Many teachers I know say they learned terrific techniques in school that they are sad not to be able to put into use in their classrooms, for various reasons. They also talk about classes that sound pretty useless and things they never learned well, such as how to teach special ed students.

I am a fan of alternative certification and have little tolerance for the bureaucratic hoops you have to go through to teach; don’t get me started about the time the dean of a traditional program for which my middle school book was required reading told me I didn’t have the prerequisites to even be accepted. But I don’t see great stories on the preparation those teachers go through either.

Given the prominence teacher quality has in the national debate, it seems like an obvious story to write—for K-12 reporters, higher ed reporters or both.