U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan Says Colleges of Education Must Improve for Reforms to Succeed

Washington, D.C.–(ENEWSPF)–October 22, 2009.  U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan today called for America’s colleges of education to dramatically change how they prepare the next generation of teachers so that they are ready to prepare their future students for success in college and careers.

Noting that America’s schools will need to hire up to 200,000 first-time teachers annually for the next five years, Duncan said that those new teachers need the knowledge and skill to prepare students for success in the global economy.

“By almost any standard, many if not most of the nation’s 1,450 schools, colleges, and departments of education are doing a mediocre job of preparing teachers for the realities of the 21st century classroom,” Duncan said in a major speech at Teachers College, Columbia University. “America’s university-based teacher preparation programs need revolutionary change–not evolutionary tinkering.”

More than half of the nation’s teachers graduate from a school of education. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that 220,000 students graduate from a teacher college every year. In recent years, several alternative certification programs such as High Tech High, The New Teacher Project, Teach for America, and teacher residency programs have emerged. But those programs produce fewer than 10,000 new teachers annually.

“To keep America competitive, and to make the American dream of equal educational opportunity a reality, we need to recruit, reward, train, learn from, and honor a new generation of talented teachers,” Duncan said. “But the bar must be raised for successful teacher preparation programs because we ask much more of teachers today than even a decade ago.”

Colleges of education need to make dramatic changes to prepare today’s children to compete in the global economy. Teacher-preparation programs should ensure that new teachers will master the content of the subjects they’ll teach and they will have well-supported field-based experiences embedded throughout their preparation programs. Their ultimate goal should be to create a generation of teachers who are focused on improving student achievement and ready to deliver on that goal.

Duncan highlighted emerging efforts to improve teacher education that are being led by the National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education and the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, as well as individual colleges of education.

The Teachers College speech was Duncan’s second major address on the subject of teaching. On Oct. 9, he spoke to students at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia, telling them that America needs to recruit an army of new teachers to ensure its long-term economic prosperity.

Earlier this week, Secretary Duncan discussed the importance of teaching with close to 100 teachers and fielded questions from additional teachers across the country in a televised town hall meeting.