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Ed Schools

    "So-called low teacher quality is not an innate characteristic of American teachers. ...
    It is the consequence of the training they have received and of the vague, incoherent curricula they are given to teach."

    -- Prof. E. D. Hirsch
    The Knowledge Deficit

The Failure of Ed Schools

  • The best book ever written about ed schools:
    "Ed School Follies: The Miseducation of America's Teachers" by Rita Kramer . The review in Library Journal reports, "During the 1988-89 school year, [Kramer] visited 14 schools of education in New York, Tennessee, Michigan, Southern California, Washington, and Texas, observing classes and interviewing students and professors. In this account, she concludes that most students are idealistic and eager, but are being misguided. ... Kramer maintains that new students are forced to abandon the instruction of information and knowledge in favor of theories in developing pupil self-esteem, indiscriminate passing, and reforming society." Kramer reports on everything she saw: vapid looks of the students, meaningless classroom activities, faculty members who loathe the goals that most parents have about schools, and grades, assessments and final degrees devoid of any substantive value.

  • Why Johnny's Teacher Can't Teach: Ed Schools Purvey Multicultural Sensitivity, Metacognition, Community-Building -- Anything But Knowledge by Heather Mac Donald, City Journal, Spring 1998. This groundbreaking article should be read by school boards and anyone else hiring teachers, and certainly by anyone considering becoming a teacher! Some excerpts:

    "the central educational fallacy of our time: that one can think without having anything to think about."
         "For over 80 years, teacher education in America has been in the grip of an immutable dogma, responsible for endless educational nonsense. That dogma may be summed up in the phrase: Anything But Knowledge. ... The early decades of this century forged the central educational fallacy of our time: that one can think without having anything to think about. ...

    "Once you dismiss real knowledge as the goal of education, you have to find something else to do."
         "Once you dismiss real knowledge as the goal of education, you have to find something else to do. ... In thousands of education schools across the country, teachers are generating little moments of meaning, which they then subject to instant replay. Educators call this 'constructing knowledge,' a fatuous label for something that is neither construction nor knowledge but mere game-playing. Teacher educators, though, possess a primitive relationship to words. They believe that if they just label something 'critical thinking' or 'community-building,' these activities will magically occur. ...

         "The ultimate community-building mechanism is the ubiquitous 'collaborative group.' No activity is too solitary to escape assignment to a group: writing, reading, researching, thinking -- all are better done with many partners, according to educational dogma. If you see an ed school class sitting up in straight rows, call a doctor, because it means the professor has had a heart attack and couldn't arrange the class into groups. ...

         "Collaborative learning leads naturally to another tic of the progressive classroom: 'brainstorming.' Rather than lecture to a class, the teacher asks the class its opinion about something and lists the responses on the blackboard. Nothing much happens after that; brainstorming, like various forms of community-building, appears to be an end in itself."

  • Educational Rot by Walter E. Williams, March 13, 2013. "There's another education issue that's neither flattering nor comfortable to confront and talk about. That's the low academic preparation of many teachers. That's an issue that must be confronted and dealt with if we're to improve the quality of education. Let's look at it.
         "Schools of education, whether graduate or undergraduate, tend to represent the academic slums of most college campuses. They tend to be home to students who have the lowest academic achievement test scores when they enter college, such as SAT scores. They have the lowest scores when they graduate and choose to take postgraduate admissions tests ‹ such as the GRE, the MCAT and the LSAT. ...
         "With but a few exceptions, schools of education represent the academic slums of most any college. American education could benefit from slum removal, eliminating schools of education."

  • Inept Teacher Training by Walter E. Williams, May 30, 2001 "American education will never be improved until we address a problem seen as too delicate to discuss. That problem is teacher philosophy and incompetence. If we were serious about efforts to improve public education, we'd shut down schools of education. Why? Schools of education, either graduate or undergraduate, represent the academic slums of any university. They're home to students who have the lowest academic achievement test scores, be they the SAT, GRE, ACT, MCAT or LSAT. They're also home to professors with the lowest academic respect. ... President Bush, the Congress and state legislators handing over more money to the education establishment will do nothing to end America's education rot. More money will simply spread it. As to teacher training, what's needed is for teachers to have degrees in the subject they teach and maybe a class or two in pedagogy. For this, schools of education are surely not needed."

  • National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ), website.

  • Teacher Education: Coming up Empty, National Council on Teacher Quality, March 16, 2006. "The nation's leading teacher educators have produced an exhaustive review of the impact that formal teacher education has on teachers. Studying Teacher Education -- a voluminous report of the American Educational Research Association Panel on Research and Teacher Education (2005) -- reaches some tough and generally honest conclusions about the scant evidence supporting the value of formal teacher education. In short, they concede that there is presently very little empirical evidence to support the methods used to prepare the nation's teachers."

  • Who Tells Teachers They Can Teach? by George A. Clowes, School Reform News, September 1, 2001 "Why do so many teachers have such a limited base of knowledge? The surprising answer is that their teacher education classes and textbooks do not emphasize knowledge as being important. The traditional form of teaching is teacher-centered, where knowledgeable teachers transmit their knowledge and information to students. However, the teaching model preferred in schools of education is student-centered, where teachers function not as dispensers of knowledge but as facilitators assisting students in the discovery of knowledge for themselves."

  • The Negative Influence of Education Schools on the K-12 Curriculum by Sandra Stotsky, Ed.D., National Association of Scholars, June 30, 2008. "Because they have been unwilling to evaluate empirically the effects of the theories and practices that they promote before dismissing disliked theories and practices that are supported by large bodies of empirical evidence, education schools have ended up mistraining several generations of educators in their preparation, master's degree, and professional development programs. The greatest damage they have inflicted on public education, however, lies not in a mistrained corps of educators but in the effects of their virtually evidence-free theories and practices on the K-12 curriculum as conveyed by these educators and the textbooks used in K-12. ...
         "We may best interpret the recent mushrooming of both privately and publicly financed tutorial programs (especially in mathematics), the phenomenal growth of home-schooling in the past two decades, and the ever-increasing number of public and private charter schools as forms of parental reaction to the bloated, distorted, or non-existent textbooks that their children now learn from in a haphazard, watered-down, and distorted curriculum. ...
         "Indeed, education school faculty shape every subject taught in the schools at every grade level through their near monopolistic control, direct or indirect, of the content and pedagogy in the textbooks that teachers and administrators use in our public schools, whether or not they train them. To salvage a failing public school system, we need to remove de facto control of the content of the K-12 curriculum from education schools as soon as possible."

  • Preparing Teachers: Are American Schools of Education Up to the Task? (PDF) by David Steiner, Boston University, October 2003. Prof. Steiner collected syllabi from over 200 courses from the 30 most elite schools of education. Analyzing the syllabi for content in each of four areas -- reading instruction, math instruction, foundations of education, and student teaching -- he found strong evidence that schools of education were uneven at best, negligent at worst. Professors, instead of preparing their students for the world of performance-based assessment and content-rich curricula, 'teach a profound suspicion for that world.'"

  • Schools of Education: They're Not the Place to Get One by Peter Wood, National Review, March 16, 2006. "It is not unusual ... to complain about schools of education. Well, not to toot my own horn, but I have actually done something on this score: I closed one. ... Last year, as provost-elect of The King's College in NYC, I announced that the college would discontinue its undergraduate bachelor's degree program in childhood education. ... I wanted my little college to cease feeding the monster. Schools of education mis-prepare would-be teachers in many ways. They deprive those would-be teachers of the opportunity to learn more important, substantive things during their undergraduate years; they require students to take hugely time-consuming courses of dubious intellectual value; and they inculcate would-be teachers in the educrats' pernicious ideology. It's an ideology that insists that virtually all of America's social problems derive from institutionalized prejudices; that most knowledge is 'socially constructed' and that children are best taught by allowing their natural creativity to flourish, rather than by actually trying to teach the habits of self-discipline and mindfulness. ... A message to fellow provosts, college presidents, deans, and college trustees: let's ring down the curtain on the SOEs. You have nothing to lose but your least-promising students and a cohort of faculty members who veer between giddy and grandiose ignorance. The students and faculty members worth keeping can find their places elsewhere in your college."

  • Education Courses Should Be Teaching Content, Not 'Recipes' by Charles J. Shields, Star Newspapers (south suburban Chicago), November 9, 2000. "Education courses are a breeze. ... Most ... is already common sense: think well of kids, manage your time, respect differences, etc. Most of the teaching strategies are recipes -- how to arrange the desks, how to deal with misbehavior, how to write a test, how to write a lesson plan. Most of the work you're expected to produce, papers and tests, summarizes the topics mentioned above. ... As a result, most education courses are a piece of cake. ...
        Instead of stressing academic achievement, most teacher training programs still view their role -- and the primary role of the teachers they train -- as change agents whose mission is to work toward social justice and equity in the classroom. ... 'Social justice'? How about five different ways to write a paragraph? ...
        There's just no way around it. Being a fair teacher, a creative teacher, and a hard-working teacher are important characteristics in the profession. But what counts in the end is that kids get the content knowledge they need to have in order to succeed at the next grade level, or outside school when they become citizens and workers. Education courses need to put less emphasis on squishy things like classroom management and creating an atmosphere that encourages social justice, and more on making sure that teachers know the content, and that they can make kids learn it."

  • Skewed Perspective: What We Know About Teacher Preparation At Elite Education Schools by David Steiner, Education Next, Winter 2005. Also available in PDF.

  • "Education schools survive because they bring in so much money ."
    Can Education Schools be Saved? George K. Cunningham, University of Louisville. Excerpts: "... how [have education schools] managed to survive in the face of such withering criticism ... There is a simple answer ... Education schools survive because they bring in so much money. This makes them quite popular with university presidents. Education school classes have large enrollments, they do not require elaborate and expensive equipment, and education school faculty are always among the lowest paid in a university. This makes education schools the most profitable unit in a university. ... No university president is going to get rid of a school of education that does these sorts of things. ... The more important question is whether they will be relevant."

  • Education Schools: Helping or Hindering Potential Teachers? by George K. Cunningham, Ph.D., Pope Center Series on Higher Education Policy, January 2008. This HIGHLY RECOMMENDED paper pulls no punches in distinguishing substantive education from the fluffy theory-based programs that prevail in our nation's schools, and just as clearly assigns the blame on schools of education. From the intro:

    "Most people believe that the purpose of schools is to ensure that young people learn the skills and knowledge they will need to succeed in life. Accordingly, they expect teachers to impart skills and knowledge to their students. ... That view, however, is not generally accepted in schools of education, where the great majority of teachers receive their training. The philosophy that dominates schools of education ... stresses the importance of objectives other than academic achievement, such as building self-esteem and multicultural awareness.

    "The dominant 'progressive/constructivist' philosophy in education schools leads to teacher training that prescribes a student-centered classroom where the teacher's role is to serve mainly as a facilitator for student-directed learning. Under that philosophy it is regarded as bad practice for teachers to actually do much teaching. They are supposed to act as 'the guide on the side' rather than 'the sage on the stage.'

    "Unfortunately, the progressive/constructivist approach is markedly inferior to traditional, 'teacher-centered' pedagogy, particularly when it comes to teaching students important skills like reading and math. Most students do better if they are taught with traditional methods, such as 'direct instruction.'

    "This investigation of education schools ... reveals that they are dominated by people who are deeply committed to progressive/constructivist theories. Consequently, students taught by teachers who have absorbed that approach are unlikely to progress as fast or as far as they would if their teachers were more appropriately trained."

  • Students in ed schools are particularly in need of fresh views on education. Dr. Martin Kozloff, Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, offers his list of the Most Important Reading for Education Students.

  • Can Little Mary Learn if Teacher's in the Dark? "Technique" gang aims to steer the college training away from content by Jerry Griswold, Los Angeles Times, October 27, 2003.

  • Making Choice Irrelevant By Andrew Wolf, New York Sun, November 28, 2003. "There is a monopoly in place right now that is well on the way to controlling not what children are taught, but how they are taught. The monopoly I'm talking about exists in our schools of education at our colleges and universities. And it is becoming increasingly clear that prospective teachers are being trained in a onesided approach that strongly favors ideologies and methodologies that have shown themselves to be less than effective. ... Unlike the political correctness that colors other types of instruction, this is far more insidious. Education theory that is taught as if it were science, carries with it the presumption that it must be accepted as gospel. That appears to be exactly what is happening. ...

  • A History of Flawed Teaching by Sam Wineburg, Los Angeles Times, February 24, 2005. "Imagine this: Nearly a third of the students who apply to Stanford's master's in teaching program to become history teachers have never taken a single college course in history. Outrageous? Yes, but it's part of a well-established national pattern. Among high school history teachers across the country, only 18% have majored (or even minored) in the subject they now teach."

  • Anti-Social Studies: So many ideas for improving the curriculum--all of them bad by Kay S. Hymowitz, Weekly Standard, May 6, 2002. "Many young people entering teaching today went to schools where, thanks in part to the influence of [National Council for Social Studies], their experience with American history was largely limited to reports on Sojourner Truth, dioramas of Navajo villages, and 'reasoned judgments about specific cultural responses to persistent human issues.' The nation's schools of education are doing little to ameliorate their students' ignorance; ed school faculties are notoriously uninterested in traditional course content, and it is no coincidence that many of the leaders of the NCSS are prominent members of education faculties. Education historian Diane Ravitch observes that apart from physics, history is the discipline with the fewest teachers who have actually majored in their subject. And though most states require some history credits for certification, judging from the courses that fill today's college catalogues, your child's fourth grade social studies teacher is more likely to know about 19th-century lesbian writers than the Constitution. That a professional association of teachers would do nothing to encourage kids to think of themselves as Americans with a common history and common ideals will surprise no seasoned observer of the nation's schools. Like many in the education establishment, the NCSS regards promoting an American civic identity, particularly in minority children, as 'ethnocentric,' an example of an 'assimilationist ideology.'"

  • Insubstantial Pageants by Martin A. Kozloff, Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington, April, 2001. This is a powerful and important article on the shallow practices that are pervasive in the education industry. Here are some excerpts regarding jargon:

         "I spent a month examining websites of several hundred schools of education selected at random from a Lycos search. The combination of this information and first-hand experience suggests that with rare exceptions impression management is one of the main activities in the sample of ed schools -- an elaborate staging of pretended scholarship, democratic values ('social justice,' 'respect for the individual'), and technical expertise ('reflective practitioners'). ...
         "Using 'rough magic,' Prospero (in Shakespeare's The Tempest), created a world for himself and his daughter, Miranda -- a world that was an illusion -- a 'baseless vision,' an 'insubstantial pageant' of 'cloud-capp'd towers,' 'gorgeous palaces,' and 'solemn temples.' The same may be said of some ed schools. The baseless vision is that they train new teachers to be technically proficient; possess both the mandate, wisdom, and moral rectitude to be 'stewards' of America's children; have the authority and wisdom to be 'change agents' promoting social justice, tolerance, and 'appreciation of diversity'; and most of all can sustain the charade indefinitely.
         "The insubstantial pageant is the annual round of symposia, forums, and conferences put on by ed schools to impress and coopt university chancellors, state legislatures, and wealthy benefactors; the steady stream of brochures advertising 'dynamic and innovative' programs; the newsletters breathlessly reporting the scholarly activities of faculty (e.g., a workshop at a local conference, supervision of three students); and artful reports and NCATE matrices providing 'evidences' and 'artifacts' of program 'products' and alignments with 'standards.'
         "The cloud-capp'd towers, gorgeous palaces, and solemn temples are ed schools themselves -- where halls and classrooms display the often-infantilization and indoctrination of ed students in the form of popsickle sticks adorned with glued mung beans (a mathematics 'manipulative') and posters describing 'literacy philosophies' and 'tenets of middle grades social studies' -- complete with spelling errors, crayon drawings, glitter, and shibboleths. 'All children have the right to read' (without one word about how to teach them to read). ...
         "The most common feature in the sample of ed school documents is 'empty (but high-sounding) words and poetic metaphors' -- to paraphrase Aristotle's description of Plato's theory of ideas. The most frequent terms are meaning (as in 'students engage in meaning-making'), construction (as in 'meaning construction' and 'construction of knowledge'), reflection (as in 'think reflectively'), empowerment, inquiry (as in 'inquiry-based learning'), relevant (as in 'relevant contexts'), developmental (as in 'developmentally appropriate practice'), conceptual framework, standards (as in 'standards-driven assessment'), diversity (as in 'appreciate diversity'), professional (as in 'professional development'), transformative (as in 'transformative experience'), authentic (as in 'authentic context'), complex, vision, inspire, ongoing (as in 'ongoing reflection'), engage (as in 'engage in reflection'), process (as in 'engage in the process of meaning making'), child centered (as in 'classrooms should be child centered'), and active learning.
         "These words are seldom defined operationally. That is, ed schools rarely say exactly what a person does when he or she reflects; or what, exactly, makes a practice developmentally appropriate. When these terms are defined, words of even less substance are used. 'When instruction is child centered, children are empowered to control their own education. They have voice.' Moreover, ed schools rarely examine either the logical adequacy or empirical validity of concepts (best practice) and propositions ('Teachers should use best practices.'). Clearly, it is impossible ever to confirm statements of what is best. ..."

    We highly recommend that you take the time to read Prof. Kozloff's full article -- it will help you to understand better how education came to its current situation, and the difficulty involved in restoring academic substance and effective teaching practices.

  • Ed Schools in Crisis by Martin Kozloff, Ph.D. Excerpt from the introduction:
    There is a war in public education. The war is over beliefs about how children learn and what they need to learn; about the most effective ways to teach reading, math, science, and other bodies of knowledge; about accountability and moral responsibility for educational outcomes; about what teachers need to know how to do and who should train and certify them. ... Clearly, schools of education are part of the war. The question many persons ask is whether they will, or even should, survive it.
    Dr. Kozloff goes on to summarize the major personalities and organizations involved in this "war" and outlines a 10-point critique of ed schools:

    1. ed schools offer little convincing evidence that new graduates know how to teach
    2. new graduates are not taught exactly how to teach and are ill-prepared when they have their own classrooms
    3. the dominant majority of professors in typical ed schools (i.e., progressive and constructivist) arrogate to themselves and to their schools a mission and social agenda contrary to what is wanted by the public
    4. ed school teacher training curricula rest on and are misguided by empirically weak and logically flawed faddish constructivist speculations
    5. when teachers use so-called developmentally appropriate, progressive curricula and teaching methods taught in ed schools (such as a whole language approach to beginning reading, constructivist math, and inquiry approaches to literature and science), a substantial proportion of school children do not learn
    6. ed schools do not adequately teach students the logic of scientific reasoning
    7. education professors typically read little that challenges what they already believe
    8. education professors regard their activities as a form of play
    9. ed schools attempt to maintain the appearance of being self-reflective, in touch with scientific research in the field, and responsive to the needs of schools by conjuring up one after another innovation or initiative
    10. unlike medicine, structural engineering, and food science, ed schools do not have a knowledge base shared within and across schools, and that rests on scientific research

  • Necessary Conditions for Fundamental Reform of Schools of Education by Martin A. Kozloff, Watson Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina at Wilmington, July, 2001

  • Everything I'd Heard About Ed Schools Was True by Martin A. Kozloff, Watson Distinguished Professor, University of North Carolina at Wilmington. Prof. Kozloff lists:

    • There is little connection between what teachers and schools need and what ed school provide. Most of what ed schools do is self-promotion, putting on conferences, filling out 'matrices,' getting grants for projects that do little good for schools and increase the workload of classroom teachers.

    • Education professors invent elaborate, fanciful (and bizarre) theories of learning and methods of instruction (e.g., whole language, fuzzy math); rarely test these beforehand, but pass them on to new teachers and to schools; and rarely evaluate them to see if they work, but stubbornly support them even when research says they are harmful.

    • Ed schools infantilize and stupefy ed students with useless 'projects' and 'activities' such as making 'personal literacy philosophies,' but seldom teach education students exactly how to teach anything.

    • Ed schools create and help to spread one faddish 'movement' after another, usually in the service of political ideology: multicultural education ;heterogeneous grouping (meaning that teachers have students with widely different background knowledge and motivation); block scheduling (90 minutes straight, so students are bored senseless for 60 minutes every class); constructivism (Teachers are NOT supposed to teach. They are to be 'guides' that help students make 'discoveries' and 'construct knowledge.' Unfortunately, few children construct mathematical axioms or the rules of written English on their own).

  • Dr. Kozloff provides this succinct summary of the problem with ed schools in his essay Fad, Fraud, and Folly in Education:
    Schools of education are for the most part the source of pernicious innovations. They are the carriers of Romantic-progressivist doctrine. They induct new teachers and administrators into the Romantic-progressivist thought world, and thereby ensure that another generation is prepared to receive and accept progressivist innovations... For example, ed school teacher training curricula rest on and are misguided by empirically weak and logically flawed progressivist (constructivist, child centered, developmentally appropriate) shibboleths concerning how children learn and therefore how children should and should not be taught. ... These are repeated in course after course, book after book, and exam after exam in education schools...

    At the same time, ed schools do not adequately teach students the logic of scientific reasoning; specifically, how to define concepts and judge the adequacy of definitions; how to assess the logical validity of an education professor's or writer's argument and the credibility of conclusions. Nor do ed schools commonly have students read original works (to see if in fact Piaget said what is claimed for him), to read original research articles, meta-analyses, and other literature reviews. The result is that ed students do not have the skill to determine the validity of the progressivist propositions and curricula they are taught; they must rely on what their professors tell them to believe.

    Moreover, a shared intellectual poverty that favors Romantic-progressivist doctrine is sustained in ed schools because education professors typically read little that challenges what they already believe; they ignore research that invalidates their child-centered, constructivist thought world; and they mount disingenuous arguments against the preponderance of scientific research that challenges what they teach. For example, education professors do not as a matter of course and scholarly obligation read the Report of the National Reading Panel (one of many huge literature reviews), and do not have their students read this and other reviews. Or, they dismiss these reviews, and teach their students to dismiss these reviews, with off-handed comments such as "All research is flawed" or "This document is biased." This self-imposed and self-defensive ignorance helps to ensure that what education professors believe and teach remains, to them, unchallenged. In addition, ed schools sustain a Romantic-progressivist thought world by hiring persons who are educationally correct -- i.e., who believe the same doctrine as the committee that hires them, and therefore won't upset existing relations of power or challenge anyone to think very hard.

  • Looking into the Ed School Abyss (PDF) by Bradford P. Wilson, Executive Director, National Association of Scholars. "... I paused for a moment thinking about the frightful educational consequences of allowing pedagogical theory to determine the selection of academic content. ..."

  • What's Wrong With Ed Schools? by Rory Donaldson. "Simply enough, our schools of education do not teach people how to teach. Schools of education, at least those in America (I don't know about other places on the globe), do not teach prospective teachers how to teach. Isn't that a startling, incendiary and ridiculous remark? Yes it is, and it is almost 100% true. Our schools of education do not teach prospective teachers how to teach reading, writing, listening, speaking, information organization and math."

  • The #1 Problem With American Education, and the #1 Solution by Rory Donaldson. Excerpt: "The Number One problem with American education is that few teachers, administrators or board members know very much about effective teaching -- most know nothing about Direct Instruction, Positive Discipline, teaching to mastery, or any other learning theory or set of classroom management skills. Where would they have gone to learn such skills? They can't have gone to our schools of education, since most of these teach absolutely nothing of practical value to the aspiring educator."

  • "Education schools as they now function are a major part of the problem and not the solution"
    Ed Schools: The Real Shame of the Nation, Dr. Sandra Stotsky, Education News, Monday, May 22, 2006. "It has become increasingly clear that education schools as they now function are a major part of the problem and not the solution to improving public education and narrowing the gaps in student achievement. Indeed, they are responsible for three major problems facing the public schools.
        "To begin with, education schools supply far too many teachers with an inadequate background in the subjects they are licensed to teach. ...
        "Second, education schools no longer supply public schools with enough academically qualified teachers for the subjects that must be taught in the secondary school. ...
        "Third, education schools do not train prospective teachers how to teach. Instead, they arm new teachers with a host of pseudo-teaching strategies like small group work and with the philosophy that students should 'construct their own knowledge' and are more capable of shaping their own intellectual growth than teachers if they are sufficiently motivated by 'inquiry.' Education schools have been especially remiss in preparing new instructors with research-based knowledge for teaching beginning reading and arithmetic, two areas of professional training completely under their control."

  • "Ed Speak" Invades by Ellen Chris Fanizzi, New Oxford Review, December 1998. Excerpts: "Isn't it good, you may ask, to bring in experts and consultants? Aren't these trained professionals the authorities? What's the problem? Well, the schools of education that produce the Masters and Doctors of Education are notorious for their low standards. Even at the most selective university, the ed school is likely to be the faculty that attracts the least gifted students (1997 SAT statistics show that students intending to major in education have verbal and math scores so low that they are surpassed by almost all other applicants). The curricula in these schools are infamous for their lack of rigor and for a content dominated by political correctness. ... And when they come as teachers, administrators, or consultants to our ... schools, what do these experts bring with them? They bring the rhetoric of Ed Speak, a babble so nebulous that many outsiders require a translation. It quickly becomes clear, however, that there are good words and bad ones. The good words include co-operative learning, student-centered curriculum, open classroom, creativity, and diversity. Suspect words and phrases include memorization, mastery of material, transmission of knowledge, objective truth, debate, competition, and teaching. Yes, teaching. Teachers don't teach, we are told. What they do is to 'facilitate opportunities for student-generated learning.'"

  • Making the Teaching Profession Respectable Again by Leon Botstein, New York Times, July 26, 1999. "Education schools are segregated from the rest of the university and looked down upon by other departments. Look at any university catalogue and you will find a physics department, a math department and a music department. Look further and you will find a separate school or department of education with independent programs that have their own faculty and curriculums in science education, math education and music education. Right now, fewer than 65 percent of new teachers have either a major or minor in the subject matter they teach. Nearly a third of all teachers today teach subjects in which they have no formal training.

  • The Ed School's Romance with Progressivism (PDF), by David F. Labaree, Professor, School of Education, Stanford University, Brookings Papers on Education Policy, 2004. "Those teaching in the university think of those in ed schools as being academically weak and narrowly vocational. They see ed school teachers not as peers in the world of higher education but as an embarrassment, who should not be a part of a university at all. To them the ed school looks less like a school of medicine than a school of cosmetology. The most prestigious universities often try to limit the ability of the education school to grant degrees or even eliminate the school altogether. I do not have the space to explain the historical roots of the education school's lowly status in the United States. But take my word for it. Education schools rank at the very bottom."

  • Deregulating Teacher Training (PDF) by Mark Schug and Richard Western, WPRI Report, June 1997 (Vol.10 No.4)

  • Teacher Training Falls Short by Ray Parnay, June 14, 2001. "Education school professors, smug and cloistered in their ivory towers, often chose to ignore public school failure. In spite of repeated documentation that a strong grounding in phonics is essential to success in learning to read, professors continue to teach the failed, faddish "whole language" approach with little or no emphasis on phonics. Sadly no one holds them accountable for this travesty. In 24 years as a school administrator I never once received a query from a teacher training institution requesting feedback on its product. Call it complacency, or worse, apathy. Hardly a week goes by it seems, without some new study lamenting the poor showing of American students. There are a number of reasons for these alarming failures, but training of teachers has come under far too little scrutiny."

  • What Teachers Have to Say About Teacher Education by Diana Wyllie Rigden, Perspective, Council for Basic Education, Fall 1996

  • Why Are Public School Teachers So Poorly Trained? by Carol Innerst, Washington Monthly, May 1999.

  • Too Many Teacher Colleges Major In Mediocrity, USA Today, March 18, 2002. This editorial identifies these key problems with ed schools:
    • Many education professors undermine state standards
    • Education schools refuse to teach effective instruction techniques
    • Teacher colleges dodge accountability

  • The dumbing-down of schools of education was predicted by the head of the school of education at Boston College in 1951:
    Dilution in American Education, by Charles F. Donovan, S.J., writing in the Jesuit magazine America, November 3, 1951.
    "The people at the top, who make educational policy, write educational textbooks and train our teachers, are not, generally speaking, well educated themselves. They have been trained in their schools of education as technicians, not as cultured men and women, not as philosophers, not as literate adults. The dreary uniformity of thought and expression of our so-called educational literature bears witness to this dismal truth. Such people are only too ready to follow easy rules like the rule of painlessness and the rule of use. They are succeeded by recruits of whom less has been demanded and to whom less has been given educationally. These successors in their turn apply the laws of use and painlessness to lower further the standards of our education and culture. Thus they draw into their ranks a newer generation more poorly trained than they."

  • A compelling, pull-no-punches, first-person report on the vapidity of ed schools: The American College Ed School Experience

Ed School Degrees

  • A must read!
    What are all of these degrees held by the administration and teachers at your school?
    Your local superintendent probably isn't a Ph.D. but may be called "doctor" -- just what is an "Ed.D." anyway?
    Do you have to be really smart to lead a school district?
    Does an ed school degree mean that a teacher is well-trained in the most-needed and most-proven educational technques?
    For some answers, read these excerpts from Martin Gross' book, A Conspiracy of Ignorance!

  • Academic Slums by Walter E. Williams, Distinguished Professor of Economics, George Mason University. "How do we get out of this mess of abysmal student performance? ... American education will never be improved until we address one of the problems seen as too delicate to discuss. That problem is the overall quality of people teaching our children. Students who have chosen education as their major have the lowest SAT scores of any other major. Students who have graduated with an education degree earn lower scores than any other major on graduate school admissions tests such as the GRE, MCAT or LSAT. Schools of education, either graduate or undergraduate, represent the academic slums of most any university. As such, they are home to the least able students and professors with the lowest academic respect. Were we serious about efforts to improve public education, one of the first things we would do is eliminate schools of education. The inability to think critically makes educationists fall easy prey to harebrained schemes, and what's worse, they don't have the intelligence to recognize that the harebrained scheme isn't working."

  • "advanced degrees ... show little correlation with improved student achievement"
    Report Urges Halt to Extra Pay for Master's Degrees by Stephen Sawchuk, Education Week, July 21, 2009. "States are spending billions in education dollars each year rewarding teachers for earning advanced degrees that show little correlation with improved student achievement, a report released yesterday concludes. The policy of giving teachers salary 'bumps' after they earn master's degrees in education 'is in the drinking water everywhere, but we know the relationship between the degree and student achievement is nonexistent.'"

  • Teacher Education:Time to Tame the Wild West - Results from a new survey show teacher education programs are outdated and lackluster by Arthur Levine, former President of Columbia University's Teachers College, November 2006.
         "Alarmingly, most of the programs that prepare the nation's teachers cling to an outdated, historically flawed vision of teacher education that is at odds with a society remade by economic changes, demographic shifts, technological advances and globalization. ...
         "Too many teacher education programs are engaged in the pursuit of irrelevance. They suffer from low admission and graduation standards. Their faculties, curricula and research are disconnected from school practice and practitioners. Program quality varies widely, with the majority of teachers prepared in lower-quality programs ...
         "Too often, anything goes. ...
         "Many students graduate from teacher education programs without the skills and knowledge to become effective teachers. More than three out of five teacher education alumni surveyed (62 percent) report that schools of education do not prepare their graduates to cope with the realities of today's classrooms."

  • New Guidelines for Teacher Training: A needed attempt to reform the accreditation of teacher education schools lacks substance by Sandra Stotsky, John William Pope Center for Higher Education Policy, September 01, 2009.
    "On June 23, the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE), the organization that accredits most of the nation's education schools, announced a revision of its accrediting guidelines. It's the first major revision in ten years....
         "The problem with NCATE's white paper is what it doesn't say. One reads the paper in vain for any mention of increasing academic coursework requirements for K-8 teacher candidates ... nothing in NCATE's new guidelines ensures that prospective teachers, especially for elementary and middle school, will have the academic background necessary to teach the subjects they will be expected to....
         "An even more serious problem we face is raising the academic caliber of those who want to become teachers. ... America draws its elementary teachers mostly from the bottom 30 percent of high school graduates who go to college. The generally low or non-existent admissions standards of our education schools were highlighted in the Levine report, but NCATE's revised guidelines don't address this issue. ...
         "The problem is that NCATE is composed only of educational, not discipline-based, organizations. That is, it doesn't include organizations devoted to mathematics, science, foreign languages, history, government, geography, and so on. The absence of subject matter experts on review teams keeps constructivist, anti-content theories about teaching dominant in our education schools."

  • "... recommends that policymakers close many doctoral programs at education colleges"
    Cash Cow Stampede: Colleges of Education Not Up to Snuff by Dr. Matthew Ladner, October 30, 2007. "Arthur Levine, former President of Columbia University's Teachers College, has issued a no-holds barred critique of doctoral-level research in the nation's colleges of education. ... The short story is that our colleges of education are giving Ph.D.s to researchers who aren't qualified to hold a Ph.D. ... Levine surveyed deans, faculty, education school alumni, K-12 school principals, and reviewed 1,300 doctoral dissertations and finds the research seriously lacking. He ultimately recommends that policymakers close many doctoral programs at education colleges and instead suggests a two-year M.B.A. type of degree for would-be school administrators.
         "Just how bad is the quality of doctoral-level research in colleges of education? Levine's review doesn't pull any punches: In general, the research questions were unworthy of a doctoral dissertation, literature reviews were dated and cursory, study designs were seriously flawed, samples were small and particularistic, confounding variables were not taken into account, perceptions were commonly used as proxies for reality, statistical analyses were performed frequently on meaningless data, and conclusions and recommendations were often superficial and without merit.
    "a complete rethinking of teacher training and certification is overdue"
         "I recently reviewed the course requirements at Arizona State University for teacher certification. ASU's elementary education program requires as many hours in fine arts as it requires in reading instruction. This in a state where 44 percent of fourth graders are functionally illiterate. In 1998, Massachusetts required an academic skills exam for prospective teachers near the completion of their college careers. Fifty-nine percent failed the test. The state Board of Education chairman rated the exam at about the eighth grade level. Newspapers reported misspellings worthy of 9-year-olds, an inability to describe nouns and verbs, and the inability to define words such as 'imminent.'
         "Clearly, a complete rethinking of teacher training and certification is overdue."

  • "passing out meaningless degrees"
    Master of None by Will Fitzhugh, The Concord Review, October 20, 2006. "After nearly thirty years of work in education, I have come to the view that Mastery in education is very hard to achieve. If we pretend otherwise, by passing out meaningless degrees, we end up by avoiding most of the many serious questions about how we might actually get better at educating the children in our charge."

  • "feel good courses and educational psycho babble"
    Educational Perjury by Dean L. Kalahar, M.Ed. "If we are serious about raising the academic achievement and test scores of our children, the time has come for some frank talk regarding teacher training in this country. ... It is well documented that colleges of education draw students with lower academic qualifications. Many students enroll in teacher training programs because it is the only place where they can survive the rigors of college and graduate. Standards are so low within these schools that if the bar was raised students who truly were called to a career in education would have more than enough motivation and discipline to meet increased standards. ... Once under the control of a soft college curriculum, students are sold short on a combination of feel good courses and educational psycho babble that has nothing to do with preparing educators for the tough realities once they leave the college and enter the world of public education. ... The sad thing is, our school children are hemorrhaging while the education elite look you straight in the eye and tell you that your child is under the best of care. Now that's educational perjury."

  • "To take a Ph.D. in education in most American seminaries, is an enterprise that requires no more real acumen or information than taking a degree in window dressing. ... Most pedagogues ... are simply dull persons who have found it easy to get along by dancing to whatever tune happens to be lined out. At this dancing they have trained themselves to swallow any imaginable fad or folly, and always with enthusiasm. The schools reek with this puerile nonsense. Their programs of study sound like the fantastic inventions of comedians gone insane. The teaching of the elements is abandoned for a dreadful mass of useless fol-de-rols ... Or examine a dozen or so of the dissertations ... turned out by candidates for the doctorate at any eminent penitentiary for pedagogues, say Teachers College, Columbia. What you will find is a state of mind that will shock you. It is so feeble that it is scarcely a state of mind at all." -- H. L. Mencken, "The war on intelligence," December 31, 1928

  • "Those who can't teach, teach teachers."
    -- blogger "Promethean Antagonist"

    "Courses in education given at ... teachers' colleges have traditionally been used as a substitute for genuine scholarship. In my opinion, much of the so-called science of 'education' was invented as a necessary mechanism for enabling semieducated people to act as tolerable teachers."
    -- Sloan Wilson

  • "The people who become 'educators' and who run our school systems usually have degrees in education, psychology, social sciences, public administration; they are not people who have studied, and know, and love literature, history, science, or philosophy. Our 'educators' are not educated. They do not love learningŠ"
    -- Rita Kramer, Ed School Follies: The Miseducation of America's Teachers, , p. 222

Ed Schools VERSUS Parents

  • Ed Schools 'Out of Touch' with Public, Say Critics: They focus on 'correct' teaching style, not on student achievement by Robert Holland, School Reform News, September 2003

  • "The disconnect between what education professors believe and the concerns expressed by parents, teachers, and students is 'often staggering'"
    Professors' Attitudes Out of Sync, Study Finds by Ann Bradley, Education Week, October 29, 1997. "Professors of education hold an idealistic view of public education that differs so markedly from the concerns of parents, taxpayers, teachers, and students that it amounts to 'a kind of rarefied blindness,' a report released last week says. ... The disconnect between what education professors believe and the concerns expressed by parents, teachers, and students is 'often staggering,' the survey found. The study paints a picture of a professoriate preparing teachers for an idealized world that prizes 'learning how to learn' but disdains mastery of a core body of knowledge and gives short shrift to fundamentals such as classroom management. In contrast, previous Public Agenda studies have found that the public wants schools to emphasize the basics: reading, writing, and mathematics, taught in orderly and disciplined classrooms. While Public Agenda is accustomed to identifying gaps between ordinary Americans and leaders on a variety of issues, the report says, 'it is unusual to find disparities of this magnitude about such fundamental goals, and involving an issue--public education--that is so close to the public's heart.'"

  • "Different Drummers" And Teacher Training: A Disharmony That Impairs Schooling by J.E. Stone, Education Week, February 4, 1998. "There seems a clear contradiction between the teacher training community's rhetoric about improving outcomes and its unquestioning allegiance to learner-centered principles."

  • Survey: Education Teachers Out of Touch with Real World by George A. Clowes, School Reform News, December 1, 1997. "Teacher education programs often fail to prepare teachers for the challenges of teaching in the real world, say two out of three education professors recently surveyed by Public Agenda, the non-partisan New York-based research group.
          "The reason is not difficult to find. Those same professors hold views of education that are fundamentally 'out of sync' with those of school teachers, students, and the general public. ... 'The disconnect between what the professors want and what most parents, teachers, business leaders and students say they need is often staggering,' comments Deborah Wadsworth, executive director of Public Agenda. 'Their prescriptions for the public schools may appear to many Americans to be a type of rarified blindness given the public's concern about school safety and discipline, and whether high school graduates have even basic skills,' she added."

Ed Schools and Groupthink

  • What Is an Educrat? by Debra J. Saunders, San Francisco Chronicle, January 4, 1998.
        "What is an educrat? ... I use [this term] because it captures a special kind of person in the education world: pinheads who are so process-oriented that they are more excited in the process of learning than the myriad wonders that can be learned. Simply put, educrats believe in process -- as opposed to educators, who believe in results. Educrats focus on how children learn. Educators focus on what they learn. ...
        "What is the difference between an educator and an educrat? ..."
        The remainder of this powerful article gives many succinct descriptions of those differences!
    Highly recommended.

  • Establishment Ideas, and the Anti-establishment Critique, Martin Kozloff, Distinguished Professor at the University of North Carolina, October, 2003. Excerpt:
    Education Schools as the Primordial Soup of Fad, Folly, and Fraud

    Schools of education are for the most part the source of pernicious innovations. They are the carriers of Romantic-progressivist doctrine. They induct new teachers and administrators into the Romantic-progressivist thought world, and thereby ensure that another generation is prepared to receive and accept progressivist innovations (Hirsch, 1996; Ravitch, 2000).

    For example, ed school teacher training curricula rest on and are misguided by empirically weak and logically flawed progressivist (constructivist, child centered, developmentally appropriate) shibboleths concerning how children learn and therefore how children should and should not be taught. A small sample of these were listed in an earlier section; e.g., drill and kill, teachers should facilitate but not directly teach, students should construct knowledge. These are repeated in course after course, book after book, and exam after exam in education schools (Kramer, 1991).

    At the same time, ed schools do not adequately teach students the logic of scientific reasoning; specifically, how to define concepts and judge the adequacy of definitions; how to assess the logical validity of an education professor's or writer's argument and the credibility of conclusions. Nor do ed schools commonly have students read original works (to see if in fact Piaget said what is claimed for him), to read original research articles, meta-analyses, and other literature reviews.

    The result is that ed students do not have the skill to determine the validity of the progressivist propositions and curricula they are taught; they must rely on what their professors tell them to believe.

  • The Ed Schools' Latest -- and Worst -- Humbug: Teaching for "social justice" is a cruel hoax on disadvantaged kids by Sol Stern, City Journal, Summer 2006. "As E. D. Hirsch has exhaustively shown, the scientific evidence about which classroom methods produce the best results for poor children point conclusively to the very methods that the critical pedagogy and social justice theorists denounce as oppressive and racist. By contrast, not one shred of hard evidence suggests that the pedagogy behind teaching for social justice works to lift the academic achievement of poor and minority students. ... Legislators should ask their state education boards to write a new set of guidelines that discourage teaching for social justice and social justice schools and that forbid teachers from indoctrinating students with their own politics, whether left or right."

  • Class(room) Warriors by John Leo, October 17, 2005. "[The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education] vehemently denies that it is imposing groupthink, but the ed schools, essentially a liberal monoculture, use dispositions theory to require support for diversity and a culturally left agenda, including opposition to what the schools sometimes call 'institutional racism, classism, and heterosexism.' Predictably, some students concluded that thought control would make classroom dissent dangerous."

  • A World Without Public Schools by David Gelernter, Weekly Standard, June 4, 2007. "Public school teachers were educated at education schools, which turned even harder left than many other graduate and professional schools. (The less substance to a school or degree program, the more lightweight its courses, the more apt it is to be affected by the ideological climate. A magnet is more apt to cause lightweight objects than heavy ones to skitter towards it.)"

  • "The surest, quickest way to add quality to primary and secondary education ...
    Close all the schools of education."
    Ed Schools vs. Education: Prospective Teachers Are Expected To Have The Correct 'Disposition' by George F. Will, Newsweek, January 16, 2006. "The surest, quickest way to add quality to primary and secondary education would be addition by subtraction: Close all the schools of education. ... The permeation of ed schools by politics is a consequence of the vacuity of their curricula. ... The dogma has been that primary and secondary education is about 'self-actualization' or 'finding one's joy' or 'social adjustment' or 'multicultural sensitivity' or 'minority empowerment.' But is never about anything as banal as mere knowledge."

  • A career-switching ed school student writes about professors who agree with everything, mathematics that requires no rigor or correct answers, and the "seed pods" of educational dogma:

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