In the Journal of Teacher Education, Rick Hess writes that there is nothing unpredictable or even surprising about the debate over teacher training. One side - comprised mainly of institutions and individuals responsible for training and licensing teachers under the usual rules - sees the system as well-ordered and sensible (though needing improvement) and wants to tinker around the edges while maintaining central tendencies and approaches. The other (from which Hess hails) wants to tear the system down and start over along entirely new lines that emphasize efficiency, minimal bureaucratic regulation, and an emphasis on results. So far, so good: everyone is fighting for their interest or belief, a situation that Hess regards as natural, even welcome. What is odd, he notes, is the extraordinary rancor of this debate. Ad hominem attacks, overblown rhetoric, and the imputation of sinister motives are failings of both sides and have made compromise next to impossible. Hess buttresses his case with a few anecdotes from his days at the ed school at the University of Virginia, when he critcized teacher training as presently practiced and in turn was roundly criticized in nasty, personal terms. A perceptive take on the whole debate. And as if on cue, and to document Hess's point about rancor, none other than the rancorous Gerald Bracey strode into the debate with a niggling critique of Hess's sourcing, accusing him of "sophistry," taking "gratuitous swipe[s]," and on and on in the tiresome vein we have come to expect. As Hess points out, the broadside is especially rich coming from a man who recently compared Fordham trustee Diane Ravitch to David Duke, see here. (And yes, it was a comparison, and a slander, and Bracey knows it.)
"The predictable, but unpredictably personal, politics of teacher licensure," by Frederick M. Hess, Journal of Teacher Education, May/June 2005

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