The right stuff

At a time when schools of education are struggling to justify their very existence (see here), you might think they would seize on the No Child Left Behind Act as an opportunity. Here's a law aimed at achieving greater social justice by improving the learning of poor and minority children; helping to accomplish such a worthy goal would be an inspiring mission for any teacher preparation program, right? Ha. Listen to Barry Wilson, president of the Iowa Association of Colleges for Teacher Education: "I would say in many ways it's not a good time to be a teacher....Going to teach at a school identified as needing improvement is very challenging. In a sense, your school has been tarred. Teachers are blamed." Well, that's one (cynical) way of looking at it. Given that kind of leadership, it's not surprising when a young teacher candidate reports, "My largest fear as I enter the teaching field is that I will be overwhelmed with NCLB." We wonder where she picked up that notion. Perhaps this phenomenon isn't all bad; it takes a different breed of teacher to succeed in the age of accountability. People such as student-teacher Ben Nickels, who isn't cowed by the challenges. "Seeing kids learn is a lot of fun to me," he explains. Now that's a positive disposition.

"Fewer opt to be teachers," by Lynn Campbell, Des Moines Register, February 17, 2006