The blog of Academe Magazine. Opinions published here do not necessarily represent the policies of the AAUP.
Sometimes we discover that administrators are not the enemies of the faculty but are companions in a single struggle. The following guest post is a repost of a piece by Tim Slekar of Schools Matter @ the Chalk Face. He is Dean of the School of Education at Edgewood College in Madison, WI.:
Last week I posted a blog in the form of a letter to College and University leaders. I asked them to think about teacher education programs and the importance of these programs to the overall success of their institutions. I also warned them to beware of NCTQ masquerading as a legitimate “national council” conducting research of national importance.
On Friday evening my President forwarded me this email that was sent directly to him from none other than Kate Walsh:
Last month, the National Council on Teacher Quality and U.S. News & World Reportissued the Teacher Prep Review, the first-ever ratings of the nation’s teacher preparation programs. With some notable exceptions, the news was not good, with programs earning an average rating of 1.5 stars on a 4-star scale. That said, the findings were not surprising to most people, given how this nation has struggled for decades to deliver teacher preparation that systematically adds value.
I am urging you to take a leadership role on this critical issue and work with us to provide the data we need to rate your institution’s teacher preparation programs for the second edition of the Review, scheduled for release in June 2014. By doing so, you will help ensure that the public gets the information it deserves about the publicly-approved programs preparing public school teachers.
It is no secret that the Review has not been well received by many in higher education. But I ask you to judge our work for yourself by reading our report. Outside of higher education, the Review is getting broad and generally positive coverage, with over 800 stories in the media since its release. Institutions which chose not to cooperate have gotten little support for their stance, as the attached editorials from the Washington Postand Pittsburgh Post Gazette illustrate.
Most importantly, the ratings are already beginning to penetrate consumer thinking, given our two partnerships, first with U.S. News & World Report and now with SearchSoft, a company that helps school districts’ HR offices track applicants for teaching positions. SearchSoft will be incorporating NCTQ ratings into their software currently used by 1,200 districts.
Concurrent to this letter, we are reaching out to the country’s deans of education schools, asking them to work with us to provide the materials we need for the nextReview by no later than December 1. If a conversation would be helpful at this point, I am more than happy to speak with you. Please contact my assistant, Susan Douglas, at (202) 393-0020 x. 105 to set up a call.
My president asked me about our interest and or need to “cooperate” with NCTQ. For a moment my heart sank. I just finished my 3rd week in my new position and I really had no desire to possibly offend or be seen as noncompliant trouble maker (Trust me I do sometimes think about the ramifications of my actions). But I had to respond from the heart.
So I composed the following email response:
Dear Mr. President.
We should talk about this next week. NCTQ is not a national council. They are a well financed group of anti-intellectuals with no experience in classrooms. Their “report” has been systematically dismantled by leading scholars from across the country. They have no intention of objectively evaluating our programs.
They (NCTQ) were formed to defame teacher education. In fact, if we were to be evaluated “highly” by NCTQ we would be violating our mission/values and all of the research on child development and teaching and learning.
NCTQ is a propaganda machine on a mission to eliminate “professional” preparation of teachers. If they actually succeed in their mission our institution will likely lose our teacher education and certification programs. NCTQ’s monetary support comes from organizations and individuals that want to remove teacher credentialing from higher education in order to privatize it and turn into a technical degree designed for low wage teaching jobs. I can go on and on.
NCTQ and all the other so-called reformers believe teachers and teaching should be entry level work done for low wages and for a short period of time. And the long term picture is not good for all of higher education. NCTQ and its supporters have all intentions of bringing their “evaluation system” to all of higher education.
I guess you can tell I’m not a big fan of NCTQ.
Sorry for the rant,
And then I did nothing for an hour. I went back to the email and made a few revisions (thought again about the ramifications) and decided to hit send. I went to bed and tried to not imagine my president reading the email and rethinking his agreement to hire me.
I woke up and checked my email. Nothing!
I drank my first cup of coffee and checked my email again. Nothing!
Second cup. Nothing!
Looked for and found a magazine and on my way to “the office” checked my email one more time.
Crap! He responded. I immediately stopped my office trip and opened the email.
Someone had to say it!
Thanks for bringing me up-to-date on this initiative. I was not aware.
Case closed. We will ignore all requests to cooperate with them.
Enjoy this beautiful weekend.