Here are some questions I would like to explore today with the help of teachers and parents and anyone with a vested interest in public education.
Should teachers be prepared professionally in accredited colleges and universities? Or, does a fast-track training program that places graduate students and career changers, from various majors and possibly for-profit schools, suffice? I do think they deserve a place at the table though. I’m mostly upset with the big business trying to bounce teachers out of the classroom instead of helping to support the work they do.
Is it important for teacher-candidates to student teach (have an internship), under the supervision of a career teacher before becoming actual teachers with classrooms of their own? Or, is it better to place graduate students in a classroom, with some supervision perhaps, with no education preparation, allowing them to learn as they go?
Should teachers be taught and trusted to creatively devise their own lesson plans? Or should they learn how to follow prepackaged direct instruction programs that tell them what and how to teach?
Should teachers be involved in creating generalized standards, with the help of the school board, and with input from teachers and parents in the school district? Or should they learn how to follow the standards handed down to them by politicians, think tanks, publishers, the state and federal governments and business CEOs who are concerned about job preparation and the global economy?
Should teachers be evaluated by parents, students and the principal of the school? Or, should a standardized test taken by students weigh heavily in the determination of whether teachers keep their jobs?
Do we need credentialed teachers, who study the arts, to teach music, art and drama? Or, should schools rely on outside artisans for occasional artistic presentations and regular education teachers to blend the arts into the regular curriculum?
Should teachers specialize in what they teach? Should they take classes, study in-depth, and receive additional experience to better understand student disabilities, ELL, and giftedness? Or, should teachers get blanket crash-courses on teaching everyone the same things in the same way?
Should those who work with young children be required to take coursework in early child development and receive degrees and experience before they are employed? Or, should anyone who loves children be allowed to teach this age grop?
Should the bulk of teacher preparation, which might include some online instruction, be in traditional colleges or university classrooms, with real professors who have appropriate backgrounds to teach the subjects? Or, is it alright for teacher preparation to be mostly provided online with few regulations and little oversight?
Should there be a cap on how many teacher-prep students a college professor teaches? Or, should a professor be required to teach huge numbers online with few controls over cheating?
Should those who become highly influential leaders in education, state commissioners for example, be required to have traditional teaching preparation and experience? Or, is it fine to place anyone with any degree, in these positions, as long as they say they are interested in children and maybe have been Teach for America types for a few years?
How long should it take for one to become an actual teacher and what does the country think appropriate for those who instruct and care for their children? What kind of teachers do we want in this country?