Teachers rightly complain they are too often blamed for every shortcoming in America’s public schools.
It is not teachers’ fault that too many schools are inadequately funded and staffed. It’s also not teachers’ fault when colleges pocket education students’ tuition and send them out with diplomas that perpetuate the lie they are classroom ready.
That reality has been corroborated by a report from the National Council on Teacher Quality that gives high marks to only 9 percent of America’s collegiate teacher training programs.
Schools were rated on 18 standards, including selection criteria for admission, student teacher placement, reading and math instruction.
Some colleges that fared poorly in the study rushed to condemn its methodology, but one thing is indisputable: Teacher quality makes a difference in the classroom. In recognition of that truth, beginning next school year, teachers in Pennsylvania will face more intense evaluations.
With students dropping out and flunking at alarming rates, it makes sense to thoroughly evaluate not only how well teachers teach but how well they were trained to do their jobs.
One problem is that with each state setting its own licensing requirements, programs and curricula for students can vary widely. Another is that it is far too easy to get into some teachers’ colleges, with academic standards that accept almost anyone in the top half of his class.
President Obama has called for higher teacher standards, and the American Federation of Teachers is calling for a qualifying test that prospective teachers would have to take before being allowed to teach. The idea has merit.
If this country hopes to improve public education, it must make sure that its schools are adequately funded and that its teachers are properly trained.