Reinventing Education Schools


(Guest post by Greg Forster)

OCPA has published my in-depth policy brief on why efforts to “reform” education schools don’t go deep enough – we need to reinvent them. It will take a generation and the initial policy changes required are politically difficult, but lesser reforms aren’t enough:

These problems do not arise merely from post-1960s radicalism or special-interest politics. Real as those issues are, the deeper roots of the trouble with education schools go back a century. Modern education schools were created as part of a radical movement that rejected the traditional understanding of education as an extension of the home, helping parents in their job of nurturing children and preparing citizens. Education schools were created with a new, technocratic view of the teacher as child development expert, and an ambition to use schools as a political tool to transform the social order in a new image. We shouldn’t abandon education schools, and we probably couldn’t abandon them if we tried. However, neither leaving the schools to reform themselves nor trying to reform them directly by political force is likely to work. Instead, a few simple (though politically difficult) policy changes could create an incentive structure that would make reinvention plausible, attractive, and sustainable for the schools over the long term.

Let me know what you think!

10 Responses to Reinventing Education Schools

  1. Michael Shaughnessy says:

    I appreciate your thoughts and opinions and comments. I would just add one word to your already excellent posting- and that is heterogeneity—teachers and schools today are faced with an increasing heterogeneity- first in terms of students with special needs, exceptional issues ( learning disabled, gifted, ADD ED/BD etc) , health problems and the like, and then also a much wider diversity than ever before. Add to that an almost pervasive feeling of fear that permeates the schools- regarding active shooters and school shootings.

    • Greg Forster says:

      Hence, as reformers have been insisting for some time, the importance of connecting teacher training to real classroom needs rather than leaving them mired in agitprop theories. But we can’t get there except by going the long way around – there is no feasible reform strategy for directly improving the content of teacher training. That’s because the real problem is not that schools teach “too much theory” and “not enough practical skills,” the real problem is that teacher training is dominated by the wrong understanding of what education is. A policy environment that made deeper changes plausible, attractive and sustainable for the schools is what we need, difficult as that is.

      Thanks for your kind words!

  2. Mike G says:

    Great piece Greg. I started a small new ed school in Massachusetts in 2011, and – per your essay – it was hell to get the Board of Higher Ed to grasp why I wanted to “build new” and not “reform old.”

  3. Larry Sand says:

    Excellent, Greg. Brought back memories of my something-less-than-wonderful ed school experience in the late 1980s. And fwiw, my piece on the subject includes a quote from the estimable JPG –

  4. pdexiii says:

    Sure would be nice to have Ed schools that a) expected teachers to be content experts; b) taught them how to teach reading; c) taught them how to manage classrooms; and d) taught them about the science of human learning.

    • Michael Shaughnessy says:

      There ARE some good Ed schools that try to cover all of those things—and we call them MAT ( Master of Arts in Teaching) and they try to cover content and teach literacy AND reading and give them some Ed Psych along the way.

  5. JC says:

    Education schools are (mostly) a scam to brainwash new teachers, provide a financial barrier to entering teaching, and serve as a cushy jobs factory for educrats. Without the support of outdated government licensure requirements, they’d be gone since they provide little of value.

    Change licensure requirements to having a bachelor’s (or better yet, a master’s) degree in an actual academic subject (for teaching) and actual classroom experience (for administration). Half the ed schools in the country will be closed within a decade and the enormous deadweight loss they create will go with them.

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