The Nature of Excellence in a School of Education

An address in Celebration of Founders Day, College of Education,
University of South Alabama, Mobile: February 1, 2007.
Martin Haberman Columnist
Distinguished Professor Emeritus
University of Wisconsin Milwaukee

In order to share my thoughts on what would make a school of education excellent I will need to first say a few words about two fundamental problems of teaching that schools of education don't address very well. The first is the nature of future teachers' ideology and maturity, and the second is what needs to be done to improve teaching as a craft that exists in the real world rather then a "profession" that exists in the rich fantasy life of some education professors.

After laying out the problems I will then suggest what might be done to address them, the assumption being that a college of education that can address these issues has achieved a level of excellence by doing something that few if any now do.

I recently went through the exercise of listing 21 criteria of a profession. (Appendix A)I will spare you a reading of them but would happy to forward them to you upon request. In evaluating the day-to-day work of teachers against these 21 criteria I could not honestly say that the practice of public school teaching could meet a single one of these criteria.

If we examine the practice of the most effective Star teachers, the top 8% of the teaching force who are effective with students even if they teach under inadequate principals, in failing schools or in dysfunctional districts, it is clear they are practicing a craft—a moral craft that makes learners in a democratic society. Yet, those involved in teacher education continue to propose ways to improve the "profession" as if admitting it is not a profession would somehow lower their own importance. What they don't understand is the fact that it's perfectly possible to have a critically important life-saving job that is a craft.A nation that values mediocre engineers over great plumbers will have neither theories nor pipes that hold water.

Ideology Matters

When we compare the ideology of the 8 per cent who are Star teachers with the ideology of the fifty per cent who are the quitter failures there are significant differences, real differences that lead them to behave differently. Just six of the fourteen or more differences in their ideologies that I identify in my Star Teacher book are the following:

1.Stars believe that succeeding in school is a matter of life and death for the fifteen million children and youth from low-income families. They perceive of their jobs as teachers in the same way that air traffic controllers perceive of their jobs. Quitters and failures believe teaching is an important job but they don't regard themselves as being in the life saving business.They believe that there's only so much a teacher can be expected to accomplish. "I do what I can."

2.As a result of seeing that the stakes for the students are a matter of life and death, Stars accept accountability for things they can't control. Quitter failure teachers blame the victim, their families, the community and society at large. Their view is that given the nature of early childhood experiences, inadequate language development and poor parenting they cannot be held accountable for student learning.

3.Stars expect to deal with problems. Quitter failures not only seek to avoid teaching students with problems, they regard students who present them with problems as abnormal.

4.Stars believe in demonstrating daily persistence with every student. Quitter failures believe there's only so much that can be done with children who are reluctant learners. Edison attributed his success to persistence. "Many of life's failures are people who didn't realize how close they were to success when they gave up. The difference between coal and diamonds is that diamonds stayed on the job longer."

5.Stars believe effort explains success in school. Quitter/failures believe that success in school is determined by ability.

6.Because they believe effort explains success, Stars work hard to motivate and interest their students. Quitter/failures cover the material with higher expectations for the kids they perceive as smart and lower expectations for those they perceive as having low ability.

Surveys of Teacher Beliefs

In the last six years there have been about fifteen major surveys of teachers' attitudes and beliefs. (Cogshall, 2007) These surveys have dealt with a wide assortment of issues. I would just like to share a few of the questions and answers that caught my eye as I reviewed these studies of teacher beliefs.

Finding: When asked the drawbacks of teaching as a career 89% of college graduates less than thirty years of age respond, "Teachers have to worry about personal safety." Public Agenda (2000) This is a very high percentage and reflects many of the difficulties teachers experience in the major urban districts as well as the extensive media coverage of shootings in suburbs and small towns.In which other "profession" is being attacked by the clients, their parents or others a concern of 89% of the "professionals?"

Finding: When asked the attributes of a good teacher56% of practicing teachers agree with the statement that a good teacher has "the skills to design learning experiences that inspire/interest children." While 56% is a majority of the respondents this means that almost half(46%) of the teachers who responded did not agree that teachers need any skills in designing learning experiences that inspire/interest children. ETS (2002) What are the implications of having almost half of the teaching force comprised of individuals who believe it is not their function to interest or inspire students?

Finding: 27% of practicing teachers agreed with the statement "having enthusiasm for the job," is an attribute of a good teacher. ETS (2002) This means that 73% of the teacher respondents believe that one could be a good teacher without being enthusiastic.

Finding: 33% of practicing teachers agreed with the statement "having a caring attitude toward students" is an attribute of a good teacher. ETS (2002) This means that 67% of the teacher respondents believe that one could be a good teacher without having a caring attitude toward students.

Finding: 6% of practicing teachers agreed with the statement "having a lot of involvement with parents" is an attribute of a good teacher. ETS (2002) This means that 94% of teachers do not see involvement with parents as an attribute of good teaching.

Finding: 3% of practicing teachers agreed with the statement "having an advanced degree from a good school" is an attribute of good teachers. ETS (2002) This means that 97% of teachers do not believe that securing a masters degree from a good school would be a contribution to good teaching.

Finding:When graduates of formal training programs offered by Schools of Education were asked to evaluate their training 43% of them reported that they had been prepared to maintain discipline but only 33% of the principals and superintendents in the districts that employed them agreed. Public Agenda (2000) This means that 57% of the graduates did not feel prepared to maintain discipline and that that 67% of their employers agreed they were inadequate.

Finding:When graduates of formal training programs offered by Schools of Education were asked to evaluate their training 37% reported that they were prepared to deal with the stress and pressures of teaching. 25% of the principals and superintendents agreed they were prepared to deal with the pressures and stress of teaching. Public Agenda (2000) This means that 63% of the new teachers and 75% of their administrators thought they had not been prepared to deal with the pressure and stress of teaching.

Finding: When experienced teachers were asked to evaluate new teacher graduates of formal training programs they reported that 30% needed more content knowledge, 76% needed more effective ways to manage discipline and 75% needed more effective ways to help struggling students. This means that experienced teachers regarded only 24% of new teacher colleagues with formal training as able to manage classrooms, only 25% able to help struggling students and 30%, almost one third, with inadequate content knowledge. Public Agenda (2003)

Finding: In a study of the kinds of schools new teachers would like to work in they indicated four conditions which were more important to them than salary: good student behavior (86%); supportive administrators (82%); highly motivated and effective teachers (77%); and a school with a mission and philosophy similar to their own (74%). Public Agenda (2000)

What is the likelihood that new teachers will find these four conditions? Are the schools where there are teacher shortages characterized by these conditions?

Finding: In spite of the general concern with dysfunctional bureaucracies in the large school systems, teachers are still hired centrally. Only 35% of principals report having the final say over who is assigned to teach in their schools. MetLife (2005) How can principals be held accountable for the achievement and learning in their schools if they cannot select the new teachers assigned to their schools?

Finding:In schools serving low income students new teachers report satisfaction with the children (65%), with the other teachers (52%), with the principal 48%) and with the parents 18%. MetLife (2005) This means that new teachers in low income schools are not satisfied with one third of their students, app. half of the other teachers and principals, and over 80% of the parents. How realistic could their programs of preparation have been to lead to this condition? How likely is it that a new teacher dissatisfied with students, other teachers and parents can function effectively?

Finding:Four in ten teachers expect to leave teaching after five years. NCEI (2005) Discipline is the most common reason offered for leaving (40%). Public Agenda (2004) Does this reflect inadequacies in the teachers, their training, the conditions of work, or all three?

Finding:Over 60% of the teachers in elementary schools in suburban and rural districts perceive their conditions of work to be satisfactory or better. 41% of urban teachers and 35% of teachers of minority students perceive their working conditions as satisfactory. Public Agenda (2000) The working conditions in elementary and rural schools still leave 40% of their teachers unsatisfied with the conditions of work. Urban schools and schools serving minorities have a majority and as many as two thirds of their teachers who believe their conditions of work are unsatisfactory.

Finding:A majority of teachers in low-income schools perceive their problems to be discipline and communicating with parents. Met Life (2005) Can a job of work is a "profession" if its services cannot be performed for low-income individuals?

Finding:When asked for ways to improve teacher effectiveness teachers choose lowering class size while principals most frequently cite more professional development. Adults in the general population give high priority to professional development, assigning mentors to beginners and requiring an entrance exam similar to the bar exam. If adults outside of education seem to have the most comprehensive view of what teachers need is that an indicator of a profession?

What Does It All Mean?

The 3.1 million public school teachers do not have a belief system that is different from the general public. They do not share any ideology or ethical system that is different from the general public. Were teaching a profession, teachers would share a body of knowledge as well as an ethical system different from the public at large. Two quick examples of the fact that teachers are representative of the public are the following. Twenty-two states allow corporal punishment. The teachers of America are equally divided on issue. The April, 2006 issue of the NEA Journal presented corporal punishment as a debatable issue with one teacher pro and another con. In other words, many teachers as well as members of the general public believe that beating the client is a method of learning. When I point out that Poland outlawed teachers hitting students in 1790 and several European countries not only outlaw corporal punishment by teachers but by parents as well, neither teachers nor the public are willing to give up their belief in "spare the rod, spoil the child."

Another example of the fact that teacher beliefs mirror the public and not a body of knowledge different from the public is the fact that the women of American state that they are not good at math or science. Teachers say this about themselves. Four out of ten teachers say they are not good at math and don't like teaching it. Nine out of ten teachers say they are not good in science and not particularly interested in learning more science or teaching it.

The perceptions of new teachers are that discipline, parents and personal safety are the biggest problems they will face. They also believe these are the conditions they feel they have been the least prepared to deal with. The surveys clearly reveal that new teachers prefer to work in schools where students are ready to learn, not in need of remediation, where there are supportive principals and other teachers, and where safety is not a problem. The reasons for leaving are the opposite in the same order: discipline, poor students, principals, parents, and poor conditions of work.

Teacher responses make it clear that they prefer working with students who do not have problems. They make it clear that they would like to perform "professional" services for students who in effect do not need motivation or remediation. A majority does not see performing these functions as things they would like to be doing. Similarly, they see parents as problems and would prefer not to work with them.

Looking at the real world, however, we know that low-income studentshave problems of motivation, learning and discipline and that teachers need to be able to communicate with parents and caregivers in cooperative, positive ways. The overwhelming number of jobs will be in school districts that are dysfunctional bureaucracies. If new teacher attitudes are accurate and representative of the 500,000 students in university based teacher education programs, those being certified are individuals with no interest in working with children and youth who need teachers. They are seeking teaching jobs in what they perceive to be the best of all non-existent worlds. Can a system that selects and certifies such people then declares itself a "profession" without meeting any criteria of what constitutes professional service be given any credibility?

The Developmental Stage of Typical Beginning Teachers

Elsewhere I have summarized the research on stages of adult development and examined the common attributes of individuals in various stages in terms of their appropriateness for teaching. (Haberman, 2002) It is clear from the theory and research of adult development that individuals in our society between ages 18 and 25 are in the absolutely worst stage of life to prepare for teaching. They are in stage that can best be described as "me-ness"; that is,"what I want, what I need, what will make me happy."

The three most pressing needs of college women under the age of 25 are, "Will I find someone to love me? Will I get a job that will enable me to support myself? How do I establish independence from my mother and still let her know I love her? For men under 25 their three most pressing needs are sex, sex and sex. Are people with these needs in the best stage of development to serve as teachers?

The basic assumption undergirding teacher preparation is that an older generation (i.e. adults) will teach younger generations of children and youth. When a youngster 22 years of age can be certified to teach a seventeen year old you no longer have a system of older generations socializing younger ones, you have peer teaching. And when the 22 year is a sheltered, monolingual middle class girl with no work or travel experience given the job of shaping the character and building the life skills of a seventeen year old with two children, or a seventeen old working fifty hours a week to help support her family, you have a monstrous hoax being perpetrated on both students and society. I won't even begin to discuss the illogical disconnect if the 22 year old is a male.

Please stop and think about a few facts. School bus companies cannot employ drivers under 25 years of age because insuring them is prohibitive, app. triple the cost for drivers over 25. The insurance companies will explain to you that it is an actuarial fact that drivers under 25 have more accidents because they"lack wisdom and judgment" and that driving a school bus "is a job that involves life and death."The half million future teachers presently in university programs may not have the "judgment and wisdom" needed to drive a school bus but teacher educators k

certify that they have the "judgment and wisdom" to effectively teach all children and youth the skills they will need to participate in the world of work, college and American society.

For most Americans it is isn't until they reach aged thirty and above that they begin to ask themselves questions like, "What I can I do that will give my life meaning?" "Should I keep struggling for money and status or will I feel more satisfied if I try to do something that helps other people?

Admission Must Include a Consideration of Ideology

In my own interviews of teachers and would be teachers, (app. 5,000 over half a century) I have found that among college graduates who say they would like to teach in schools serving low income students, about three out of ten over aged thirty have the ideology that matches the core of the ideology held by Star teachers in these schools. Among college graduates under 25 years of age who say they would like to teach in schools serving low income students, one in ten have the ideology that matches those of Star teachers in these schools.

These data raise some interesting questions for schools of education. Should a school of education get involved in trying to assess applicant's ideologies and belief systems? Isn't this dangerous and against the academic freedom that a university should stand for? Not if you understand the difference between general education and professional education. General education is a right, professional education is a privilege.

Those preparing future professionals in fields other than education get into their applicants' ideologies all the time. Imagine what would happen to the applicant for admission into a law school if he announced he was against habeas corpus, or an applicant to a medical school who announced he wanted to become a physician that specialized in euthanasia. Would these applicants have the "academic freedom" to state their commitments to these beliefs or would they be denied admission? Contrast this screening of beliefs with a student in a school of education who might write a well documented term paper showing that women can't learn science and math as well as men, or that I.Q. tests show conclusively that people of color are less intelligent than Caucasians who are in turn less intelligent than Orientals and therefore only students with the appropriate IQ scores should be allowed to go to college. Put as a question of admission criteria, if students with high GPA's apply to a school of education is there anything about their belief systems that would prevent them from being admitted? Unfortunately, the answer in almost every case is no.Becoming a teacher is typically considered a student's right not a privilege and admission is essentially a function of GPA.

So that the first criterion on which I would consider a school of education to be better than most is, "What do they consider besides GPA in admitting students." A strong word of caution is in order. Before making judgments about applicants' beliefs it is necessary to do the research to demonstrate that holding particular teacher beliefs are likely to lead graduates to engage in best practice and produce the best student outcomes.It is disastrous to do what some schools of education do; that is, to collect the pet ideas of the faculty and then admit students whose attitudes match the accumulated prejudices of the faculty. Unless you have evidence that your faculty would be effective teachers in elementary, middle and high schools and that the students they teach would increase in achievement, then using an interview representing faculty beliefs as an admission screen would be both unethical and dangerous.

If you want to pursue this matter I would suggest you consider using my interview that compares applicants' responses to those of Star teachers, or some other interview that makes similar claims connecting applicants' beliefs with best practice and staying power as part of your admission process.

Behavior Skills Needed in the Real World

It now fifty years since my first teacher graduate shook my hand and told me "Thank you for preparing me for the best of all non-existent worlds." She influenced me to focus my teacher preparation programs on the actual tasks teachers perform in the schools and not on what we assume them to be doing.

It is clear that studying what people actually do leads to more valid understandings of behavior than surveying attitudes. But even in studying real behavior there are real dangers if you attribute motives, which may not exist or may be dead wrong. People say to me, "Isn't is wonderful that after 54 years of marriage you still hold your wife's hand." I respond, "If I let go she shops." You can only understand behavior when you also seek to learn the motives that underlie that behavior. Assuming we know what people are doing by observing them can be a dangerous assumption.

Imagine that sitting in my office I decide to study people's ability to dance. I turn on specific musical pieces that only can be heard in my office and looking out of my window I begin evaluating people outside on how well they tango, rumba or samba. I am undisturbed by the fact that some of those I observe think they are waiting for a bus, some are walking alone or in groups, a few are running or on bicycles, several are outside for the purpose of smoking, one is on a skateboard. I assess these subjects using my carefully developed observation schedule, which evaluates rhythm, grace, and keeping step with a partner, and starting and stopping on time with the music.I repeat these observations daily for a week to make certain my results are reliable. Some of the findings of my study are the following.

1.Students, faculty and staff at the UW Milwaukee are equally poor at samba, rumba and tango.

2.No matter how many days I observe them they never seem to improve.

3.There do not seem to be any differences in performance based on the subjects' sex, age or dress.

4.Subjects in the street tend to go faster than the music while those in the bus shelter invariably make little or no response to the speed of the music.

5.Males moving along with females do not take the responsibility of leading.

While I do this research I am surrounded by doctoral students who learn how to administer my test and who gather their own data by looking out of windows in buildings all over the country. Some of them even learn to look into the windows of school buildings to make assessments.

The point of this silly analogue is that we mustn't assume that when we observe in schools and classrooms we know what the teachers and students are doing. What we can be most certain of is that they do not spend most of their time doing what we think they should be doing. For example, we cannot assume the teacher's highest priority is student learning and the driving purpose undergirding her behaviors is ensuring that learning. It is not. Classroom management is. The teachers readily admit that their most pressing concern is not "how do I teach everyone in this room as much as possible for the next forty-five minutes?" The teachers are asking themselves questions like, "How do I get through this day or this period with the least amount of hassle and stress? How do I get the students to follow directions? How do I stop Tom from trying to take over the class? How do I get more of the students to finish their work and hand it in?"

At the same time, we cannot assume that the students are there because their primary goal is learning. The students are also there because they have to be. Their second motivation is to be with their friends and their third motivation is to control their encounters with those who aren't their friends and may deride or hurt them in some way.Students don't arrive every morning saying to them "Gosh, I sure hope I can learn a lot of good stuff today. I'll bet today's classes are going to be exciting and interesting and I'm going to be a better, smarter person by the end of the day?" Listen! When researchers or school administrators observe in classrooms they make the same foolish assumption I make when I to look out of my window and evaluate dancing. We must find out what the teachers and students think they are doing and not simply evaluate them on what we decide they should be doing. By the time students reach middle school any pretense that most of the time students spend in school they are on-task and engaged in learning activities has been stripped away and discarded in the face of reality. The schools serving fifteen million low-income children and youth are predominantly custodial institutions dedicated to feeding, security and maintaining an orderly environment.My looking into classrooms where the teachers are considered satisfactory or better has taught me that in the typical school hour about fifteen minutes or less of every hour is actually spent trying to teach or learn stuff. The rest of the time is spent getting ready, starting an activity, getting ready to stop an activity, stopping, moving from one place to another, passing out stuff, collecting stuff, going over the rules for doing something, dealing with people who show up, dealing with people who have to leave, listening to announcements, dealing with someone who shows up late, stopping to fill out a form for the office, talking with a teacher or aide, dealing with a specialist who shows up to pull out a student, and so on.

Getting Ready to Work in Dysfunctional Bureaucracies

I've used the term dysfunctional bureaucracy. What does that mean? Estimates of the drop out rates range from 4,000 a day on the low side to 7,000 a day on the high end. If we take the more conservative estimate of 4,000 a day then we create a city the size of Chicago every two and one half years filled with dropouts. How long can our society continue to absorb failure of this magnitude and still function? We have about 15 million children in poverty, half in rural areas and half in urban areas. Almost all of the low income urban students go to school in the 120 largest urban school districts. With one or two exceptions all of these are failingdistricts, which can best be described as dysfunctional bureaucracies.The term dysfunctional connotes a place that operates in such a way that it is impossible to meet its own stated goals. For example, you can state that "learning is our primary concern" but the typical urban classroom has app. 125 interruptions a week. That means, of course, that half of these classrooms have more than 125. If what is actually done contradicts a school's stated goal it is a dysfunctional system.

You can't state that "we value the work the teachers perform; it is the most important work in the district" and then operate a system in which the further away you work from children the higher your status and salary.

You can't state that "we believe in professional development for teachers to become better teachers" then reward master degrees that help a majority of teachers who complete them to "be promoted" out of the classroom within three years.

You can't state that "our system is one of continuous progress where students will do better every year" and then have a wider achievement gap in tenth grade achievement scores than in fourth grade scores. When the gap between middle income and low income students is greater in tenth grade than it was in fourth grade the system is demonstrating that the longer students stay in school the further behind they get. This fact is true in every urban school district in America. Can the parents and preschool deficiencies be blamed when tenth graders are further behind than fourth graders?To make this even worse, bear in mind that all the students were tested in fourth grade when the achievement gap is narrowest. By tenth grade the challenging students—the dropouts-- are long gone when the tenth grade tests are given. Yet, the achievement gap has widened. Students in poverty drop further behind the longer they stay in school and the schools must accept accountability for this dysfunction.

You can't state that "learning and what happens in classrooms is the focus of our work" then spend 45 cents out of every dollar in the classroom and more than 55 cents out of every dollar outside the classsroom, which is what happens in the 120 largest school system. In my own city each student starts each year with app. $14,000 behind him. When you check the budgets of individual schools there is only $6,000 to spend for each student. We have 6,000 teachers but almost 13,000 employees. The larger the district the higher the ratio of other employees to teachers, reaching the astounding ratio of three to one in some of the great cities.

It is alsocharacteristic of a dysfunctional bureaucracythat as enrollment declines the budget continues to rise.

The research on burnout indicates that it starts as early as the fifth year and affects all teachers including Stars. If it takes three years on the job to become fully competent what does this tell us about the length of the teacher's most effective service?

The point of all of this is that preparing teachers for the real world requires preparing them to survive and function effectively in dysfunctional bureaucracies not in the best of all non-existent worlds as "professionals." How can this be done? Following are my suggestions for making a teacher education program distinctive, one that places its graduates on the road to becoming star practitioners.

Preparing Teachers for the Real World

First, the program must ensure that the craft skills of teaching are taught in every course and not just relegated to student teaching. This means that all ideas presented are undergirded by the specific skills needed to implement them in teaching practice. If 30 credits for future secondary teachers and 60 credits for future elementary or early childhood teachers are devoted to listening to faculty members pet ideas and all the craft skills for demonstrating best practice are relegated to student teaching you have the unmistakable hallmark of a low quality teacher education program.

Second, selection into a high quality teacher education program must include a valid, reliable assessment of applicants' ideologies, values and beliefs. Training can only useful if it is offered to those who are willing and able to accept that training.Since teacher education programs do not transform students' ideologies then only those with the appropriate predispositions should be admitted.

Third, teacher education students should not be sent out to observe in schools until after they have mastered some basic skills of teaching.Observing in schools requires an advanced, sophisticated knowledge of the conditions under which teachers work in dysfunctional systems. My studies indicate that sending beginning students without teaching skills to observe will only reinforce their negative stereotypes. Students will merely selectively perceive what they are predisposed to "see."Making school observations an introductory activity "to orientate" students or to be able to fill out a form to prove they have completed some required number ofhours of observation is the hallmark of a low quality teacher education program.

Fourth, the program must ensure that star teachers are directly and specifically taught to network and to create support groups for themselves. They need to learn the skills of identifying others with whom they can work, learn from, share ideas with and derive the nurturance necessary to keep working in a failing school. They need the skills of developing a support group that may not only include other teachers but aides, other school staff and volunteers. Teachers who work in isolation burn out faster, quit sooner and are less effective.

Fifth, the program must ensure that teacher graduates have advanced skills for gathering materials. If they show up with empty toolboxes holding a textbook and a piece of chalk they are doomed. They must know how to use technology to access exciting, interest-grabbing resources and materials instantaneously from outstanding practitioners across the country and around the world. They must know how to access great learning activities and adapt them to the specific students they teach.

Sixth, the program must ensure that its graduates learn up to twelve principles of learning and that these principles are demonstrated to them in every education class they take. These principles comprise the craft they share with Star teachers and which are unknown to the general public. For example, "providing immediate, specific and supportive feedback leads to more frequent correct responses," is an example of one such a principle. The total education faculty must agree on these principles then demonstrate them in every education course and even more important, point out to the students how they are being demonstrated in every course.

Seventh, the program must ensure that in every course future teachers practice skills of dealing with children and youth who present some sort of challenge or problem. The faculty must be sensitive to the students' fantasy that "normal" means students who will present them with no problems and that children and youth who do are somehow abnormal. The coursework should cull out students who believe they should only have to work with students who have no problems and present no challenges

.Eighth, the program must be organized so that every abstraction, generalization and research finding offered in coursework is quickly followed by specific opportunities for students to practice the skills that will implement those ideas.

Ninth, the faculty who teach future teachers must make periodic visits to classroom of Star teachers in real schools to verify the validity and usefulness of the content they teach. Ideally, every faculty member should write an analytical paper or do a study every year on some aspect of best practice s/he has personally observed.

Tenth, every school of education should have nearby public school districts in whichthey periodically and systematically check the performance of their graduates who take jobs in those districts? How well did the children of their teachers achieve? How long did the graduates of their collegeremain teaching in the district?What were their strengths and weaknesses? How were the weaknesses of the graduates fed back into the teacher education program to cut down on those weaknesses in future graduates?

Eleventh, every teacher no matter what grade or subject matter they teach needs to learn more basic math and science not taught in the school of education but in the departments of math and sciences. This can be readily accomplished in every university program. "Protecting" education majors who are frightened of math and science and are seeking a safe major to graduate withwhile remaining illiterate in math and science is a serious contribution to the miseducation of America's children and youth.

Twelfth, every school of education should use a jury of practicing Star teachers currently employed as classroom teachers to perform the following functions which will ensure that the teachers being prepared are ready for the real world.

a. A jury of Star teachers should provide feedback to the faculty regarding the admission and exit requirements used in the program and on the syllabi of the courses in the program.

b. A jury of Star teachers should be available to serve as a resource to the faculty in every course. They would provide examples and demonstrate the skills needed to implement the ideas being taught in each of the courses.

c. A jury of Star teacher should be available to react to students' selection of topics for action research studies and for graduate students doing theses and dissertations. Essentially, they would help to answer the question, "Is this study worth doing? Will it contribute anything to our understanding of best practice.?" Frequently, topics for study may be new to students and even to faculty with little teaching experience. This is an important opportunity to help make study in the college of education more relevant to practice and a contribution to the literature that deals with the real world. –

d. A Star teacher jury can also advise on the criteria used to observe student teachers and intern teachers as well as on the specific behaviors needed to determine competence.

Thirteenth, the modal grade student teachers currently receive in student teaching is A. The average GPA of teacher education students in their education courses is over 3.5. An education student who is failed and not recommended for certification is a rare event causing faculty committee meetings, special appeals, second observations,opportunities to reconsider and even law suits.If no oneever fails a teacher education program there are four possibilities: all the students are gifted and appropriate for teaching; the exit criteria are so ambiguous they cannot be accurately and reliably assessed; the standards are extremely low, or the faculty will not take responsibility for ensuring quality graduates. Of the thousands of education faculty I have met almost none have personally failed out a student even when they know that student has emotional problems, cannot relate to children or youth, cannot work with other adults, or is genuinely disinterested in teaching. Typically, faculty members who identify such a student expect others, e.g. those in charge of student teaching, to drop them--and course they don't.

I am confident that if we continue to make the primary population of future teachers those under twenty five, and if we do not infuse the craft knowledge of Star teachers into every component of the teacher education program we will continue to have half of the university certified beginners quit or fail in three years or less when they try to teach the fifteen million students in poverty. The goal of teacher education is not to "give young teachers a chance," it is to stop miseducating millions of children and youth and creating a city the size of Chicago every two and a halfyears filled with no-hopers because their teachers did not deign to teach them, or quit or failed if they tried. The goal of giving young teachers a chance should not be implemented on the backs of the children and youth whose very lives depend on their success in schooling. Those whose primary goal is to give young woman and men who want to be teachers a chance should help them get jobs in suburbs, private schools and in schools serving students from middle class and advantaged families. Those who don't want to work with students' problems, students in need of remediation, parents, or in schools where discipline is an on-going problem, are not owed a chance as a reward for their dangerous misconceptions, their immaturity or their need for a job that requires no knowledge of math and science.

No school can be better than its teachers. The deeper in poverty a child is the more dependent that child is on his/her schooling to give him a chance in life. If we do what we have always done we will get what we always got-- an ever widening gap in achievement, an increase in drop outs and graduates who are declared to be successful but who lack the skills to perform any job or pursue post secondary education.

Getting the right people into teacher education and giving them the skills they will need in the real world sounds like common sense. Unfortunately, common sense isn't so common.


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Furkus, S., Johnson, J., & Foleno,T. (2000)A sense of calling: Who teaches and why. NewYork: Public Agenda.

Furkus, S., Johnson, J., & Duffett, A. (2003) What teachers really think about merit pay, unions and other matters.New York: Public Agenda.

Haberman, M. (2002) Mid career adults: How they are changing the teacher workforce.Recruiting New Teachers. Belmont, MA: 37pp.

Haberman, M. (2005) Star teachers: The ideology and practice of effective teachers of diverse children in poverty. Houston: Haberman Educational Foundation.

Hart, P.D. & Teeter, R.M. (2002). A national priority: Americans speak on teacher quality.Princeton,NJ: ETS.

Markow, D., & Martin, S. (2005). The Met Life survey of the American teacher, 2004-2005:Transitions and the role of supportive relationships. New York: MetLife.


What Makes A Job of Work A Profession?

The criteria for deciding whether a job of work is a profession are not all met by every profession, however, most of them must be operative before the term "profession" can be applied to a particular job. Following are the critical criteria, which determine whether a job is a profession.

1. The practitioners know and can do things the public in general cannot do. They have a specialized body of knowledge.

2. The specialized body of knowledge practitioners have takes an extended period of time to learn.

3. The educators who prepare the practitioners are experts who agree upon the specialized body of knowledge practitioners must have.

4. Admission to a professional training program is highly selective. It is typical that many more will apply than will be admitted.Not everyone will demonstrate the exit criteria needed to graduate and be certified.

5. Once the practitioners enter practice their behavior reflects the agreed upon body of knowledge and behavior taught to them by the experts.

6. Only members of the profession set the standards for licensure and certification.

7. The primary responsibility and loyalty of a professional is to serve the client and not simply the institution or governmental agency in which the practitioner may be employed.

8. Neither the public at large nor an employing institution may control the way in which professionals relate to their clients, or the treatments, methods or procedures they use.

9. Neither the public at large nor an employing institution may set the purpose, goals or objectives for the practitioner's practice with clients.

10. The public at large does not decide how to evaluate professionals.

11. Only members of the profession can determine malpractice and dismiss or disbar practitioners.

12. Professionals determine the cost of their services.

13. The administrators of the institutions in which professionals are employed typically earn less than the practitioners.

14. Greater respect is extended to practitioners who continue to work directly with clients than to those who perform administrative functions.

15. There is not a continuous churn of practitioners entering and leaving a profession.Once admitted, professionals typically remain and practice for an extended period or on a career long basis.

16. Neither the public nor an employing institution determines the specific days, weeks or months in which the professional will perform his/her service to clients.

17. Neither the public nor an employing institution determines how many clients a professional practitioner must serve in a given day, week, month or year.

18. Professionals do not serve more than one client at a time. They do not provide "professional" services to groups because clients have individual needs.

19. Professionals are trained to serve clients with problems. By definition, "professionals" do not seek to perform services to clients without problems.

20. The status and pay of a professional does not increase as s/he moves further away from direct contact with clients. The highest salary and status is not accorded to individuals who have no contact with clients at all.

21. Professionals share a code of ethics to which they commit and adhere. They cannot be directed to perform or not perform services for clients that conflict with their professional code.

Published February 12, 2007
Haberman Foundation


February 12th, 2007

Martin Haberman

Columnist and Board Advisor

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