Friday, October 30, 2009

Lack of Health Care Led to 17,000 US Child Deaths

Agence France-Presse: "Lack of adequate health care may have contributed to the deaths of some 17,000 US children over the past two decades, according to a study released by the Johns Hopkins Children's Center. The research, to be published Friday in the Journal of Public Health, was compiled from more than 23 million hospital records from 37 states between 1988 and 2005. The study concluded that children without health insurance are far more likely to succumb to their illnesses than those with medical coverage."

Read the Article

Honduras Deal: Ousted President Zelaya Can Return to Office

Sara Miller Llana, The Christian Science Monitor: "The deal would include the creation of a powersharing government and the promise on both sides that presidential elections slated for November 29 will be respected. It also would establish a truth commission and signal an end to international sanctions - slapped on Honduras by countries, including the US - in protest of Zelaya's removal from office."

Read the Article

Liar, liar, Armani pants on fire

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce is one of the most powerful right-wing lobbying groups in Washington. They're spending over $300,000 a day to kill health reform, clean energy, financial reform—you name it.1

But now the Chamber has a big problem. A reporter recently discovered that they've been lying about how many members they have. For years, under Chamber CEO Tom Donohue, they've falsely claimed to have three million members, when the real number is closer to 200,000.2

When they exaggerate their membership, it exaggerates their power. So let's set the record straight. Everywhere we see the Chamber repeat the "3 million member" lie, we're going to call them out—starting with their Facebook page.

Go to the U.S. Chamber's Facebook page today and post a comment on their wall like this: "Stop lying about your members. The Chamber doesn't represent anywhere near 3 million businesses." Click here to post your comment:

To post a comment on the Chamber page, you first have to click "Become a fan" near the top of the page. Then, just type your comment into the box that says "Write something..." and click "Share." If you want, you can "un-fan" the Chamber immediately by clicking "Remove me from Fans" (towards the bottom of the left column, under the photos box).

The amazing thing about this controversy is that, after getting called on it, the Chamber admitted that the three million number is totally false.3

But that hasn't stopped Donohue from repeating the made-up number in press releases, on the official Chamber website, and even on their Facebook page.4

A lot of the Chamber's power comes from the false perception that they represent so many businesses. But in fact, they represent no more than about 1 percent of all businesses in America.5 This isn't a small, meaningless lie—it's a big, important lie that needs to be corrected.

Click here to post your comment:

Thanks for all you do.

–Steven, Noah, Stephen, Anna, and the rest of the team


1. "U.S. Chamber Spent a Record $34.7 Million on Lobbying in Past 3 Months," The Wall Street Journal, October 19, 2009

2. "The Chamber's Numbers Game," Mother Jones, October 13, 2009

3. "Chamber Rejects Use of Term '3 Million Members,'" Mother Jones, October 23, 2009

4. "U.S Chamber of Commerce: About Us," U.S. Chamber of Commerce website, accessed October 30, 2009

5. "Survey of Business Owners," U.S. Census Bureau, accessed October 30, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Click the pic to make the jump to the article

Bill Gates is wrong and manipulative

The Sacramento Bee has an article today from the Associated Press on Bill Gates and school reform.
Here the article is in the Washington Post
Here is a response to this often quoted mantra.

If you wish to fix the schools, you need to start by accurately describing the problem. Bill Gates does not. He claims, “ It is no secret that the U.S. education system is failing.” It is not only not a secret, it is also not accurate.
Well over 50% of U.S. schools are doing quite well- even with the draconian cuts in school budgets.
There is a group of schools where students are failing at disgraceful rates- and these schools are almost all in poverty areas. The late Gerald Bracey pointed out that U.S. schools with less than 25 percent of their students in poverty outscore all other countries in math and science.
U.S. children only fall below the international average when 75 percent or more of the students in a school live in poverty. The political economy of the U.S. creates the highest level of childhood poverty of industrialized countries and in the process creates school failure.
The Gates assertion is a part of the new age corporate agenda to blame the schools and teachers for the crisis created by the corporate domination of our economy and politics.
For an alternative see

Duane Campbell
Prof. of Education (Emeritus)

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Janela da Alma

Rep. Matsui Announces $127 Million Recovery Dollars for Sacramento Smart Grid


Tuesday, October 27, 2009


(202) 225-7163

Rep. Matsui Announces $127 Million Recovery Dollars for Sacramento Smart Grid

Money Sets Sacramento Ahead of National Investment in Smart Grid Technology

WASHINGTON, DC - Today, Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento) announced $127 million in stimulus funding for a local smart grid energy project, a joint venture between the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), California State University, Sacramento (CSUS), California Department of General Services, and the Los Rios Community College District to expand Sacramento's comprehensive regional smart grid implementation. The grants have been made available by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), supported by Congresswoman Matsui earlier this year, and are an integral part of a national effort announced by President Obama today to build a nationwide smart electricity grid that will reduce costs for consumers, make the electricity grid more efficient and reliable, and increase accessibility to clean, low-cost renewable energy sources.

"Today's announcement could not come at a more timely point in recent history," said Rep. Matsui. "SMUD's work in the Sacramento region has brought our community to the forefront of alternative energy and these stimulus dollars will serve to propel that momentum. This project is a result of a wonderful partnership between SMUD, Sac State, the California Department of General Services, and the Los Rios Community College District, and will provide our local business with the additional funds they need to ensure we are continuing on the path to energy efficiency and cleaner, lower emissions."

The $127,506,261 million announced today will allow SMUD to install a comprehensive regional smart grid system to serve the Sacramento community from transmission to the customer. The updates to be completed include 600,000 smart meters as well as 50,000 demand response controls including; programmable smart thermostats, home energy management systems to allow homes and businesses to monitor their usage more closely and engage in energy saving techniques. SMUD will also be able to install 100 electric vehicle charging stations in the Sacramento region as part of this grant.

"We are very excited about this opportunity," said SMUD General Manager and CEO John DiStasio. "The fact that the Department of Energy plans to fully fund our request is the strongest possible validation of the proposal we put together with our partners in this project. The whole Sacramento region will benefit from these funds as we move toward a more intelligent and more efficient energy future."

"Sacramento State is home to the California Smart Grid Center and a proud partner with Rep. Matsui and SMUD to spark innovation and educate the next generation of workers in the clean energy sector," stated Sacramento State President Alexander Gonzalez. "This grant will help make Sacramento State a truly 'smart campus' by modernizing approximately 50 of our buildings. It will also leverage the talents of our University's students and faculty and strengthen the Sacramento region's position at the cutting edge of technology."

Congresswoman Matsui submitted a letter on July 24, 2009 to the Department of Energy expressing her support for SMUD to win this grant, and highlighted their history of pursuing green alternatives to traditional energy sources. She wrote, "Provisions of the [ARRA] would help SMUD and its partners install automated meters and reduce the demand for electricity, particularly during peak hours of usage."

Rep. Matsui has advocated on behalf of smart grid technology on both the House floor and with her work on the Energy and Commerce Committee, specifically during the recent mark-up of H.R. 2454, America's Clean and Secure Energy Act. This morning she participated in a Energy and Environment Subcommittee hearing advocating for additional protections of the electric grid, where Mr. DiStatsio also testified.

# # #

Note: Please do not respond directly to this e-

Another gem from Truthout

Bill Moyers | Amy Goodman: Breaking the Sound Barrier

Bill Moyers, Truthout: "You can learn more of the truth about Washington and the world from one week of Amy Goodman's 'Democracy Now!' than from a month of Sunday morning talk shows. Make that a year of Sunday morning talk shows. That's because Amy, as you will discover on every page of her new book, 'Breaking the Sound Barrier,' knows the critical question for journalists is how close they are to the truth, not how close they are to power."

Read the Article

Baha'is join global plan for "generational change" on climate change

NEW YORK, 27 October (BWNS) – The Baha'i International Community today announced that it has become a partner in a United Nations-sponsored program to promote "generational change" to address climate change and environmental sustainability.

The program, which is co-sponsored by the Alliance of Religions and Conservation (ARC) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), seeks to promote lifestyle changes that will help slow global warming and other environmental problems during a seven-year period from 2010 to 2017.

"We are very pleased to join with other world religions and with the United Nations in this inspiring initiative to promote lasting change in the way people interact with the environment," said Tahirih Naylor, a representative of the Baha'i International Community to the United Nations.

"The significance of this effort is the manner in which it capitalizes on the strengths of faith communities – such as their strong grassroots network and the transformative power of religious belief – to address environmental problems at their foundation, which is human behavior.

"One of the long-term goals of the Baha'i Faith is to promote the positive transformation of individuals and communities, and to this end we already sponsor thousands of study circles, children's classes, devotional gatherings, and youth groups in more than 180 countries.

"We look forward to learning more about the efforts of other faith communities and are confident that we can make a useful contribution to this exciting program," she said.

Ms. Naylor will join representatives of the world's other religions next week at Windsor Castle when the ARC/UNDP program is formally launched. The event, scheduled for 2-4 November, will feature a keynote speech by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and will be hosted by HRH The Prince Philip.

More than 200 faith and secular leaders are expected to be present, and many faith groups will announce commitments to practical initiatives, like the Baha'i plan, to meet global environmental challenges. Joining Ms. Naylor as a Baha'i representative to the event will be Arthur Lyon Dahl, a former deputy assistant executive director of the United Nations Environment Programme, an author, and a well-known specialist on coral reefs and biodiversity.

Ms. Naylor noted that the BIC has been a member of ARC since its founding, and has consistently sought to support its program of interfaith conservation efforts.

"The worldwide Baha'i community has long been involved in promoting sustainable development and in creating small-scale projects that include environmental conservation," she said. "And so this initiative is especially exciting because of the way it concretely addresses the underlying attitudes and values that are at the root of many of humanity's environmental problems."

Specifically, said Ms. Naylor, Baha'is around the world will be encouraged to explore the relationship of humans to the environment as articulated in the Baha'i sacred writings and to take action at the individual and community level.

"In our experience, connecting the hearts of people to sacred writings is the best way to provide the motivation for social change and action," she said. "As well, Baha'is will be encouraged to engage in acts of service related to environmental sustainability."

At the present time, Ms. Naylor said, many thousands of Baha'is in virtually every country are engaged in a coherent framework of action that promotes the spiritual development of the individual and channels the collective energies of its members towards service to humanity.

These activities include the systematic study of the Baha'i writings in small groups in order to build capacity for service; devotional gatherings aimed at connecting the hearts of participants with the Creator; neighborhood children's classes that offer lessons aimed at laying the foundations of a noble and upright character; and groups that strive to assist young teens to navigate a crucial stage of their lives and become empowered to direct their energies toward the advancement of civilization.

The Baha'i International Community is an international nongovernmental organization that represents the worldwide Baha'i community, which has some five million members in 100,000 localities spread through virtually every country. Its members come from nearly every ethnic group, culture, profession, and social or economic background.

ARC is a secular body that helps the major religions of the world to develop their own environmental programs, based on their own core teachings, beliefs and practices. It was founded in 1995 by Prince Philip. Its members include 11 major world religions.

For the Baha’i World News Service home page, go to:


Monday, October 26, 2009

Quote of the day

SlowwDOwwn, slowdownFAst..

from my buddy R Lee's Facebook page

Teacher Preparation: Reforming the Uncertain Profession-Remarks of Secretary Arne Duncan at Teachers College, Columbia University

Another gem From: JERRY-P-BECKER-BIG-L List
Subject: Arne Duncan: Reforming the Uncertain Profession
From U.S. Department of Education: See
been out of town for some days, and saw this speech of Sec. Arne
Duncan reported on numerous news broadcasts during the dinner and
late evening newscasts.
Teacher Preparation: Reforming the Uncertain Profession-Remarks of
Secretary Arne Duncan at Teachers College, Columbia University
FOR RELEASE: October 22, 2009
It's an honor and pleasure to be here at Columbia Teachers
College-the oldest, largest, and most storied graduate school of
education in the United States. Here in this citadel of teacher
preparation, where giants like John Dewey played such a formative
role, I've come to speak to you today about the need for a sea-change
in our schools of education.
Like the Teachers College, many schools of education have provided
high-quality preparation programs for aspiring teachers for years. In
the last decade, a slew of education schools have also upgraded their
programs or launched rigorous practice-based initiatives to adapt to
the realities of preparing instructors to teach diverse students in
the information age.
I am going to talk about some of those shining examples in just a
moment. Yet, by almost any standard, many if not most of the nation's
1,450 schools, colleges, and departments of education are doing a
mediocre job of preparing teachers for the realities of the 21st
century classroom. America's university-based teacher preparation
programs need revolutionary change-not evolutionary tinkering. But I
am optimistic that, despite the obstacles to reform, the seeds of
real change have been planted.
America faces three great educational challenges that make the need
to improve teacher preparation programs all the more urgent. First,
the education that millions of Americans got in the past simply won't
do anymore. In the information age, it is impossible to drop out of
school and land a good job. Even workers with high school diplomas
but without college degrees are going to find they have limited
opportunities in a competitive global economy. As President Obama has
said, "education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity and
success-it's a prerequisite to success."
Second, education, as Horace Mann said nearly two centuries ago, has
long been the great equalizer in America. No matter what your race,
national origin, disability, or zip code, every child is entitled to
a quality public education. Today, more than ever, we acknowledge
America's need-and a public school's obligation-to teach all students
to their full potential. And yet today we are still way too far from
achieving that dream of equal educational opportunity.
Nearly 30 percent of our students today drop out or fail to complete
high school on time-that is 1.2 million kids a year. Barely 60
percent of African-American and Latino students graduate on time-and
in many cities, half or more of low-income teens drop out of school.
I believe that education is the civil rights issue of our generation.
And if you care about promoting opportunity and reducing inequality,
about promoting civic knowledge and participation, the classroom is
the place to start. Children today in our neediest schools are more
likely to have the least qualified teachers. And that is why great
teaching is about more than education-it is a daily fight for social
Now the nation's rising educational demands are only half the
picture. The third force propelling the nation's need for more and
better teachers is the massive exodus of Baby Boomers from the
teaching force in the next decade.
We currently have about 3.2 million teachers who work in some 95,000
schools. But more than half of those teachers and principals are Baby
Boomers. And during the next four years we could lose a third of our
veteran teachers and school leaders to retirement and attrition. By
2014, just five short years from now, the U.S. Department of
Education projects that up to one million new teaching positions will
be filled by new teachers.
These major demographic shifts mean that teaching is going to be a
booming profession in the years ahead-with school districts
nationwide making up to 200,000 new, first-time hires annually. Our
ability to attract, and more importantly retain, great talent over
the next five years will shape public education for the next 30
years-it is truly a once-in-a-generation opportunity.
It is important to emphasize that the challenge to our schools is not
just a looming teacher shortage, but rather a shortage of great
teachers in the schools and communities where they are needed most.
As Lyndon Johnson foresaw in 1965, "tomorrow's teachers must not
merely be plentiful enough, they must be good enough. They must
possess the old virtues of energy and dedication, but they must
possess new knowledge and new skill." In our new era of
accountability, it is not enough for a teacher to say, "I taught
it-but the students didn't learn it." As Linda Darling-Hammond has
pointed out, that is akin to saying "the operation was a success but
the patient died."
More than 40 years later after Johnson spoke, high-poverty,
high-needs schools still struggle to attract and retain good
teachers. Teacher openings in science and math-subjects that are
vitally important to the future-are often hard to fill with effective
instructors. And students with disabilities and English language
learners are still underserved. Rural classrooms are facing shortages
and we have far too few teachers of color. Nationwide, more than 35
percent of public school students are Hispanic or black, but less
than 15 percent of our teachers are black or Latino. That's a problem
that is not self-correcting-we must proactively work on it. It is
especially troubling that less than two percent of our nation's
teachers are African American males.
To keep America competitive, and to make the American dream of equal
educational opportunity a reality, we need to recruit, reward, train,
learn from, and honor a new generation of talented teachers. But the
bar must be raised for successful teacher preparation programs
because we ask much more of teachers today than even a decade ago.
Today teachers are asked to achieve significant academic growth for
all students at the same time that they instruct students with
ever-more diverse needs. Teaching has never been more difficult, it
has never been more important, and the desperate need for more
student success has never been so urgent. Are we adequately preparing
future teachers to win this critical battle?
I am urging every teacher education program today to make better
outcomes for students the overarching mission that propels all their
efforts. America's great educational challenges require that this new
generation of well-prepared teachers significantly boost student
learning and increase college-readiness. President Obama has set an
ambitious goal of having America regain its position as the nation
with the highest proportion of college graduates in the world by
2020. But to reach that goal, both our K-12 system and our teacher
preparation programs have to get dramatically better. The stakes are
huge-and the time to cling to the status quo has passed.
Now there is a reason why so many of us remember a favorite teacher
forever. A great teacher can literally change the course of a
student's life. They light a lifelong curiosity, a desire to
participate in democracy, and instill a thirst for knowledge. It's no
surprise that studies repeatedly document that the single biggest
influence on student academic growth is the quality of the teacher
standing in front of the classroom-not socioeconomic status, not
family background, but the quality of the teacher at the head of the
Earlier this month at Thomas Jefferson's fabled Rotunda at the
University of Virginia, I issued a call to teaching as an essential
national mission of our time. But the fact is that recruiting and
preparing this army of great, new teachers depends heavily on our
nation's colleges of education.
More than half of tomorrow's teachers will be trained at colleges of
education. The U.S. Department of Education estimates that schools
and departments of education produce about
220,000 certified teachers a year. Now I am all in favor of expanding
high-quality alternative certificate routes, like High Tech High, the
New Teacher Project, Teach for America, and teacher residency
programs. But these promising alternative programs produce fewer than
10,000 teachers per year.
The predominance of education schools in preparing teachers is not
the only reason this is a national priority and a critical concern
for higher education. My good friend, Congressman George Miller, the
chair of the House Committee on Education and a great reform
advocate, points out that America's taxpayers already generously
support teacher preparation programs. And it is only right that this
investment should be well spent.
In the 2007-08 school year, nearly 30 percent of undergraduate
education majors received Pell Grants totaling close to a billion
dollars. That same year, about 40 percent of undergraduate education
majors received $3 billion in Federal Loans. All told, the federal
government now provides about $4 billion a year in Pell Grants and
Federal Loans to support students and our university-based teacher
preparation programs.
At the same time, graduate schools of education have a huge impact on
post-baccalaureate enrollment-they award nearly 30 percent of all
master's degrees, more than any other branch of graduate studies. And
unlike independent alternative certification programs,
university-based teacher preparation programs have unique
advantages-they are financially self-sustaining, have math and
science departments on campus to assist in specialized training, they
can provide rich content knowledge in the liberal arts, and they are
in a position to research and test what works to improve student
Now it is not possible to talk honestly about radical improvements to
teacher preparation programs without acknowledging the troubled
history of education schools and stubborn barriers to reform. To echo
a sentiment voiced by deans of education schools, almost since
colleges of education came into being they have frequently been
treated like the Rodney Dangerfield of higher education.
Historically, education schools were the institution that got no
respect-from the Oval Office to the Provost's Office, from university
presidents to Secretaries of Education.
From the onset of education schools a century ago they have been
beset by skeptics who believed that teachers are born, not made. In
William James' popular lectures, Talks to Teachers on Psychology,
published in 1899, James warned that educators made "a very great
mistake" in assuming that child psychology could help provide
"methods of instruction for immediate school-room use."
James thought that teaching was an instinctual art-and many of his
colleagues in academia agreed that teaching was more a craft than a
profession. In his book The Uncertain Profession, former ed school
administrator Arthur Powell argued that "none of the social sciences
spawned by the American university at the end of the nineteenth
century has had a more volatile and troublesome history than the
field of education."
The dismissal of teacher preparation programs by the liberal arts
faculty on many campuses was so complete that in the 1930s the
president of Harvard described Harvard's Graduate School of Education
as a "kitten that ought to be drowned." Columbia itself was not
exempt from soul-searching about the effectiveness of colleges of
education. In 1944, on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of
Teachers College, Harvard president James Bryant Conant gave a speech
here calling for a "Truce Among Educators"-a plea, he acknowledged,
that fell on deaf ears. Nearly 20 years later, Conant authored a
two-year study of education schools that acknowledged many students
believed their required courses at ed school were "Mickey Mouse"
Jacques Barzun, who wrote the classic bestseller Teacher in
America-and later went on to be Columbia's provost-was equally
unsparing in his critique of education schools. In his essay "The Art
of Making Teachers," Barzun wrote that "teacher training is based on
a strong anti-intellectual bias, enhanced by a total lack of
Jump forward to 1963 and you find that President Kennedy was voicing
many of the same concerns about the quality of educational research
that continue to resound today. "Research in education," President
Kennedy declared, "has been astonishingly meager and frequently
ignored . . . It is appalling that so little is known about the level
of performance, comparative value of alternative investments and
specialized problems of our educational system."
More than three decades later, not much-or at least not enough-had
changed. In 1995, the Holmes Group, a coalition of ed school deans,
issued a pointed report warning that "The education school should
cease to act as a silent agent in the preservation of the status
quo." In 1999, Richard Riley, one of my predecessors as Secretary of
Education, told the National Press Club that "we can no longer fiddle
around the edges of how we recruit, prepare, retain, and reward
America's teachers.... Our colleges of education can no longer be the
sleepy backwaters."
Now, as you know, the most recent comprehensive study of education
schools was carried out by Arthur Levine, the former president of
Teachers College. Levine's 2006 study found numerous examples of
exemplary programs. But he also documented the persistence of
problems that had afflicted ed schools for decades. "At the moment,"
he wrote, "teacher education is the Dodge City of the education
world... unruly and disordered." "The bottom line," he concluded, "is
that we lack empirical evidence of what works in preparing teachers
for an outcome-based education system. We don't know what, where,
how, or when teacher education is most effective."
Ed school deans and faculty interviewed for Levine's study painted an
unflattering picture of teacher education, which they complained was
"subjective, obscure, faddish . . . out-of-touch, politically correct
. . . and failed to address the burning problems in the nation's
schools." English professor E.D Hirsch, the father of the acclaimed,
content-rich Core Knowledge Program, got his own taste of the
ideological blinders at colleges of education when he chose to teach
an ed school course on the causes and cure of the achievement gap.
Having authored the 1987 bestseller, Cultural Literacy, Hirsch
anticipated that his course would be oversubscribed. But three years
in a row, only 10 or so students enrolled. Finally, one of Hirsch's
students informed him that other professors in the ed school were
encouraging students to shun the course because it ran counter to
their pedagogical beliefs.
More than three out of five ed school alum surveyed for the Levine
report said their training did not prepare them adequately for their
work in the classroom. In my seven years as CEO of the Chicago Public
Schools and in my current job as I've travelled the country, I've had
hundreds of conversations with great young teachers. And they echo
many of the same concerns about ed schools voiced in the Levine
report and in earlier decades. In particular they say two things
about their training in ed school. First, most of them say they did
not get the hands-on practical teacher training about managing the
classroom that they needed, especially for high-needs students. And
second, they say there were not taught how to use data to
differentiate and improve instruction and boost student learning. On
Tuesday night, at a national town hall meeting with teachers, I asked
the studio audience of about 100 teachers how they felt about their
schools of ed. An uneasy laughter filled the room-not the kind of
response that engenders confidence.
Now the obvious question arises, why have teacher preparation
programs historically been difficult to reform? And how is it that,
in the face of this history, I am actually optimistic that important
changes are already underway in teacher preparation programs?
Let me start by answering that first question, about the obstacles to
reform. It is far too simple to blame colleges of education for the
slow pace of reform. In fact, universities, states, and the federal
government have all impeded reform in a variety of ways.
For decades, schools of education have been renowned for being cash
cows for universities. The large enrollment in education schools and
their relatively low overhead have made them profit-centers. But many
universities have diverted those profits to more prestigious but
under-enrolled graduate departments like physics-while doing little
to invest in rigorous educational research and well-run clinical
This robbing Peter to pay Paul is shortsighted. If teaching is-and
should be-one of our most revered professions, teacher preparation
programs should be among a university's most important
responsibilities. Unfortunately, this is the exception, not the rule.
It takes a university to prepare a teacher. The arts and sciences
faculty play an absolutely essential role in strengthening the
content knowledge of aspiring teachers. I do not understand when
college presidents and deans of the arts and science faculty ignore
their teacher preparation programs-and yet complain about the cost of
providing remedial classes to freshmen. Simply put, incoming freshmen
don't know the content because too often they have been taught by
teachers who don't know the content well. In my view, Donald Kennedy,
the former president of Stanford University, got it right when he
said that "Only if the best institutions care about [public] schools
and their own schools of education will the public think they are
worth caring about; and nothing could be more clearly the business of
America's academic leaders."
Now the fact is that states, districts, and the federal government
are also culpable for the persistence of weak teacher preparation
programs. Most states routinely approve teacher education programs,
and licensing exams typically measure basic skills and subject matter
knowledge with paper-and-pencil tests without any real-world
assessment of classroom readiness. Local mentoring programs for new
teachers are poorly funded and often poorly organized at the district
Less than a handful of states and districts carefully track the
performance of teachers to their teacher preparation programs to
identify which programs are producing well-prepared teachers-and
which programs are not turning out effective teachers. We should be
studying and copying the practices of effective teacher preparation
programs-and encouraging the lowest-performers to shape up or shut
Even the failure of some education schools to develop a rigorous,
research-based curriculum cannot solely be laid at their door step.
We all know that the reading and math wars have gone on for
decades-but that doesn't mean they are destined to last forever.
Thanks to the national reading panel and other national expert
assessments, educators know much more about the science of teaching
reading and math today than a decade ago. Yet, as your president,
Susan Fuhrman recently pointed out, countries like Singapore, South
Korea, and the Czech Republic that outperform us in science and math
provide teachers with much clearer guidance on key ideas and content
to be mastered in each grade.
Now, each of these barriers to reform that I've just cited is
beginning to slowly recede-and that is one reason why I remain
optimistic that real improvements and change in teacher preparation
programs are underway.
For the first time, 48 states have banded together to develop common
college and career-ready standards for high school students-and the
federal government is providing generous incentives through the Race
to the Top Fund to encourage rigorous standards, including setting
aside $350 million to fund the competitive development of better
assessments for the standards. Just a year ago, many education
experts doubted states would ever agree on common college-ready
The draft Race to the Top criteria would also reward states that
publicly report and link student achievement data to the programs
where teachers and principals were credentialed. And the federal
government is funding a large expansion of teacher residency programs
in high-need districts and schools, including one to be run out of
Teachers College.
As you know, teacher residency programs follow a medical model of
training, with residents placed in schools with extensive induction
and support during a year-long apprenticeship. In Chicago, I was
lucky to work with the Academy for Urban School Leadership program,
one of the nation's top residency programs. The U.S. Department of
Education recently announced $43 million in grants for 28 Teacher
Quality Partnership programs that went to colleges of education and
high-need school districts, with more than half of the five-year
grants supporting residency programs. An additional $100 million in
grants included in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will be
awarded early next year.
At the state and district level, states like Louisiana are leading
the way in building the longitudinal data systems that enable states
to track and compare the impact of new teachers from teacher
preparation programs on student achievement over a period of years.
Louisiana's system is already up and running, linking teacher
education programs in the state back to student performance and
growth in math, English, reading, science, and social studies.
All students in Louisiana in grades four through nine who took one of
the state assessments are eligible for inclusion in Louisiana's
evaluation of teacher impact-and the state uses three years of data
involving hundreds of thousands of students and tens of thousands of
teachers. Louisiana is using that information to identify effective
and ineffective programs for the first time-and university-based
teacher education programs are using the outcomes data to revamp and
strengthen their programs. Officials at the University of Louisiana
at Lafayette opted to increase admission requirements, added a career
counseling program to better prepare teachers for the transition to
the classroom, and boosted coursework requirements in English
language arts. Real change, based upon the real outcomes of
children-revolutionary, isn't it?
Right now, Louisiana is the only state in the nation that tracks the
effectiveness of its teacher preparation programs. Every state in the
nation should be doing the same-and, as I said, we are going to
provide incentives for states to do so in the $4.3 billion Race to
the Top competition. It's a simple but obvious idea-college of
educations and district officials ought to know which teacher
preparation programs are effective and which need fixing.
Transparency, longitudinal data, and competition can be powerful
tonics for programs stuck in the past.
Several districts are moving to track the impact of teacher
preparation programs on outcomes. Here in New York, the Teacher
Policy Research Project, sponsored by the University of Albany and
Stanford University, recently assessed the impact that 31 elementary
teacher preparation programs have had on math and English achievement
in New York City. They found that the difference between the average
impact of the 31 teacher preparation programs and the top value-added
institution for first-year teachers was about the same as the
difference in average learning for a classroom of low-income students
and those who are not poor. The New York study is yet another example
of how we are finally beginning to get the comparative data on
education investments that President Kennedy sought so long ago.
Now, just as states and districts are beginning to link teacher
education programs to student outcomes, universities are also taking
their responsibility to improve teacher preparation more seriously. I
have been involved in a Listening and Learning tour during the last
nine months that has taken me to more than 30 states. Everywhere I go
I see universities partnering with school districts, opening up lab
schools, magnet schools, and charter schools, and creating
professional development schools for ed school students to gain
clinical experience. In droves, universities have opened their doors
to alternative certification programs-and are paying greater
attention to the quality and supervision of student teachers during
their clinical training.
As you know, the accreditation of schools of education is a voluntary
process, and historically coursework had been given greater priority
than clinical training for students in accreditation. But there also
are encouraging signs that colleges of education want to make
self-policing more meaningful, with clinical experience driving
coursework. Both NCATE, the National Council for Accreditation of
Teacher Education, and AACTE, the American Association of Colleges
for Teacher Education, are firmly behind the new drive to link
teacher preparation programs to better student outcomes.
In June, NCATE and its president, Jim Cibulka, announced the first
major revision of teacher education requirements in 10 years. It
includes new accreditation requirements that will oblige institutions
to strengthen the clinical focus of their programs and foster
demonstrable increases in student learning. NCATE's new accreditation
system will be modeled in part on Tennessee's evolving experiment,
where the Board of Regents has decided that all undergraduate teacher
candidates will spend their senior year in year-long residencies in
P-12 schools. I hope other states and schools of education shift more
to the residency-model of training.
Under the leadership of Sharon Robinson, the AACTE and its 800
colleges and universities have made it a core mission to have
pre-service education lead to substantial increases in student
achievement. AACTE has also recently launched a series of new
programs and initiatives designed to improve teacher effectiveness.
One of their most promising initiatives to date is the development of
the first nationally accessible assessment of teacher candidate
readiness. Under this performance-based assessment, supervising
teachers and faculty would evaluate student teachers in the
classroom. And student teachers and interns would be required to plan
and teach a week-long stint of instruction mapped to state standards
and provide commentaries on videotapes of their instruction and
classroom management.
AACTE's project is based on PACT, California's Performance Assessment
for Teachers, which Linda Darling-Hammond and a wide-ranging
consortium of teacher preparation programs in California have done so
much to pioneer. Already 14 states have signed up to pilot the
performance assessment.
In the end, I don't think the ingredients of a good teacher
preparation are much of a mystery anymore. Our best programs are
coherent, up-to-date, research-based, and provide students with
subject mastery. They have a strong and substantial field-based
program in local public schools that drives much of the course work
in classroom management and student learning and prepares students to
teach diverse pupils in high-needs settings. And these programs have
a shared vision of what constitutes good teaching and best
practices-including a single-minded focus on improving student
learning and using data to inform instruction.
The program here at Teachers College, which turns out about 700
teachers a year, explicitly trains students to use data to
continuously improve their own instruction and target student
learning gaps. Every student teacher in the elementary education
program at TC completes at least two semesters of student teaching,
and unlike some education schools, every student teacher works under
the careful supervision of a well-qualified mentor teacher. About
half of TC's graduating teachers in 2007-08 ended up in high-needs
schools in New York City. Your commitment to research what really
works to advance student learning is impressive.
Earlier this month, I spoke to students at the Curry School of
Education at the University of Virginia and found a similarly
top-notch program where fifth-year students teach full-time during
their first semester. I see David Steiner, your great new
commissioner in New York in the audience, and David created an
extraordinary teacher preparation program at Hunter College. Like
Virginia's program, it has a carefully-run clinical program that
videotapes student teachers and helps them learn from their
In contrast to some colleges of education, David also encouraged the
incorporation of best practices from a new generation of
high-performing charter schools. He even established an alternative
certification program for teachers of record-Teacher You-for KIPP,
Achievement First, and the Uncommon Schools.
There are many other first-rate teacher preparation
programs-Stanford, the University of Washington, and Michigan, just
to name a few. But I want to be clear that it doesn't take an elite
university and a big endowment to create a good teacher education
At Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas, home of the National
Teachers Hall of Fame, the Teachers College is the crown jewel of the
school. Roughly 80 percent of students are supervised by full-time
education faculty instead of adjuncts-and all elementary education
professors are in the public schools every day. Senior year is a 100
percent field-based program in Emporia's public schools, where
student teachers do everything from assisting with grading to sitting
in on parent-teacher conferences.
Alverno College, a Catholic women's college in Milwaukee, also
requires a rigorous field experience in the public schools and has
faculty and local principals assess videotapes of student teachers.
Eighty-five percent of Alverno graduates are still in the classroom
five years after graduation, an extremely high retention rate. At
Black Hills State University in Spearfish, South Dakota, Project
Prime, a partnership with the Rapid City Schools uses school-based
math coaches and graduate level courses for teachers to successfully
boost math achievement among Native American students.
I cite all these examples to point out that, with courage and
commitment, our teacher preparation programs absolutely can provide
dynamic and effective teacher preparation for the 21st
century-leaving the sleepy backwaters that Secretary Riley spoke of
behind. In place of the uncertain profession, I want to see teacher
preparation programs one day rival those of other professions.
When the Elementary and Secondary Education Act is reauthorized, we
will be reinvesting in teacher education programs. We will encourage
partnerships with states and districts that address teacher shortages
in high-needs areas. And we will encourage programs committed to
results: Programs that use data, including student achievement data,
to foster an ethic of continuous improvement for students and
Our best teacher preparation programs see the smart use of data as a
boon that can help them improve, not as a burden. They see
competition from alternative providers not as a threat but as a force
from which they can learn, benefit, and share ideas.
It's often said that great teachers are unsung heroes, but for me
that truism has real meaning. Teaching is one of the few professions
that is not just a job or even an adventure-it's a calling. Great
teachers strive to help every student unlock their potential and
develop the habits of mind that will serve them for a lifetime. They
believe that every student has a gift-even when students doubt
Henry Adams said that "a teacher affects eternity-he can never tell
where his influence stops." That is a weighty responsibility and a
unique privilege. I thank you for all that you have done and will do
to train the next generation of great teachers. The challenges facing
our nation's schools of education are great. But so is the
opportunity to better serve our children and the common good.
Thank you.
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