Educating Researchers

Arthur Levine
The Education Schools Project
April 2007

With all due respect to Arthur Levine, this report series (of which Educating Researchers is the third) is misnamed. It should be Notes From the Front. As former head of Columbia University's Teachers College, Levine has both the trust of the ed school establishment, and the respect of the policy world, which helps him to report from the front lines about the wars waging within and around America's 1,206 schools, colleges, and university departments of education. This time, he delivers a stinging critique of the world of education research, much as he previously did for teacher and administrator training (see here and here). He boils the problem down to three points: The amorphous field of education itself, with its many fields, subfields, and specialties that examine everything yet seldom find anything that makes much difference; doctoral programs that award inconsistent degrees (PhDs to practitioners and EdDs to researchers); and under-resourced graduate programs that lack the funding and faculty expertise to crank out top-flight researchers. The report sets forth the history that led to this muddled mess, without excusing it. Rather, Levine issues a stalwart call for reform. Among his suggestions: 1) allow only the best-funded and best-staffed universities to prepare education researchers--and shutter the lesser programs. 2) Diversify the remaining programs' research missions, so that schools specialize in well-defined fields of study (as Vanderbilt does, for example, in special ed). And 3) strengthen connections between education research and the worlds of policy and practice. Both critics and defenders of the ed school system have much to gain from reading this insightful report. Find it here. And read related papers from Rick Hess's recent American Enterprise Institute conference on the "politics of knowledge" here.

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