Gadfly can only imagine the expressions of shock and awe as ed school profs and deans awoke at their favorite summering spots to find the Grey Lady of Times Square asking, "Who Needs Education Schools?" The answer, according to this expansive and mostly astute article by Anemona Hartacollis, is pretty much nobody. Education schools have lost their way: "social justice" and high-minded theory now trump academic mastery and skills in classroom management, and alternate routes to the teaching profession have arisen to challenge the monopolistic hold of the ed school cartel. This might be a familiar story to education reformers but is now no longer a secret to the public either. The article relies heavily on David Steiner's review of ed school curricula (see here), as well as the sage words of Fordham trustee Diane Ravitch: "There is a disconnect of professors of education just not being capable of equipping future teachers with the practicalities to be successful. And if teachers are not successful, they will not be retained." Steiner is now off to run the ed school at Hunter College, where he hopes to prepare teachers who are "scholars of their craft"; Teach for America is growing by leaps and bounds; and school leaders like KIPP's David Levin are pushing for the ability to credential their own teachers (San Diego's High Tech High recently was accorded this ability). Still, as Twain might have said, the news of the ed schools' demise has been greatly exaggerated: they continue to control at least two-thirds of the market share in new teachers, and won't relinquish their power without a fight. But the enterprise appears to be entering critical condition.
"Who Needs Education Schools?" by Anemona Hartocollis, New York Times, July 31, 2005