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Bruno: Boot Camp For Bloated Teacher Prep Programs

Boot_Camp_11As someone who finished his own two-year MA/credential program at an ed school fairly recently, I was heartened to read this story from U.S. News about " institutions retooling their graduate education programs" with stronger focuses on efficiency and quality. To some extent this is a response to "pressure from the government", but equally telling in my mind is that some schools want to compete with the "highly streamlined training" of Teach for America-like programs.

Criticism of TfA-style reforms sometimes focuses on "replicability" or "scalability", but I think what we're seeing is that those concerns sort of miss the point. It's improbable that TfA would be able to completely staff all of our schools even if we wanted them to. What TfA and other alternative programs almost certainly can and will do, however, is persuade other schools of education to trim the fat from their preparation programs so remain attractive to prospective teachers who have a growing number of options to earn their credentials.

And I think this is all for the good.  While I'm sympathetic to the idea that highly-abbreviated TfA-style training is insufficient preparation for most teachers, there's also a lot to be said for paring down the coursework in many traditional prep programs to focus on the nuts and bolts of lesson planning and classroom management that new teachers really need.  Frankly, my successes (such as they were) in my first year of teaching had more to do with the one week training I received from my TfA-ish recruitment program than with the two years I spent earning my Masters in education.

None of which is to say that traditional ed schools don't have their place. Until recently, though, they've too often acted as barriers to entry into a profession that shouldn't be discouraging the participation of new talent. A little competition might be good for them.- PB (@MrPABruno) (image source)


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