Report: Teacher training in U.S. — including some programs in Utah — an 'industry of mediocrity'

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  • worf Mcallen, TX
    June 20, 2013 10:40 p.m.

    Specking of "less than mediocrity"! Has anyone noticed the federal government, and our seventeen trillion dollar debt?

    Yep! That's $580,000 for every second in a year.

    Let's not fault teachers for our country's problems.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    June 19, 2013 12:49 p.m.

    And county mom, I just noticed the biology teacher who couldn't take students to lambing.

    A big chuckle there. Want to bet it was the Eagle Forum who stopped that kind of thing because they didn't want the kidders exposed to SEX?

  • ManInTheMiddle SANDY, UT
    June 19, 2013 11:59 a.m.

    If we want better teachers we must pay them more. Period.

    You are foolish if you think your child in a public elementary school in UT is getting a good education (and yes that means even kids on the "East Side".)

    We should fire the 20% worst teachers. We should increase pay by at least 25%. And we should double my property taxes to pay for it.

    Our kids can't read. Do you get it? Our kids can't even read. Look at the stats. What percentage of 8th graders in UT can't even read at the ridiculously low bar of "grade level." Look it up - it's shocking.

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    June 19, 2013 11:41 a.m.

    To play devil's advocate a little more -

    How many of you out there graduated from college ready to be the president of a corporation? College only does so much - the rest has to be learned on the job. Continual training and mentoring needs to occur for teachers, just like employees in other fields.

    Did your doctor graduate from medical school and then never receive any further training? My job requires continual training and mentoring, and teaching is no different. My spouse is a teacher and she goes to training every summer - that she pays for. She also mentors new teachers and is continually mentored by others. In a school, or company, no one has all the knowledge, no one has all the skills, and no one should just be "set adrift."

  • CHS 85 Sandy, UT
    June 19, 2013 11:36 a.m.


    "The teachers union makes it nearly impossible to fire bad teachers, so they just get moved from school to school."

    I'm going to play devil's advocate a little here.

    In every school district, there is an agreed to policy by both labor and management to fire bad teachers. If management refuses to do their part, why is that labor's fault? For example in Jordan School District, there is the JPAS appraisal system. If a teacher fails the JPAS, they are assigned a mentor and given a second chance to take and pass the JPAS. If they fail it a second time they are fired. Fail the JPAS, lose your job - pretty simple.

    Now, enter an administrator (management) who is too scared to do their job. If the administrator does not do an honest evaluation and doesn't want to "hurt feelings" then bad teachers are going to stay. BUT, a good administrator will give an honest evaluation, try to help the teacher improve, and fire if improvement is not made.

    The biggest problem is weak administrators too afraid to do the job and make he tough choices they are paid to do.

  • Claudio Springville, Ut
    June 19, 2013 11:32 a.m.

    Re: Obama10

    There is no teacher's union in Utah. The UEA does not serve the interests of teachers, just ask the teachers. There is no such thing as tenure in Utah high schools. Teachers can be fired for cause just as easily as anyone else. All that has to be done is a hearing before the board, if the teacher challenges the firing. If the board agrees with the termination, that's that.

  • Coach P Provo, UT
    June 19, 2013 11:23 a.m.

    I think it is important to understand the limitations of any teacher training. Teaching is best learned while actually teaching. I think the best thing that could have and still could happen in other education classes is to bring in real teachers to discuss problems they face day to day instead of the professors, who have spent little or no time in elementary/secondary schools, droning on about theory etc. If I was an education professor I suppose I would lean on teachers to do a lot of the talking and letting the future teaching candidates ask a lot of questions and get field experiences.

    I also agree with old man that most limitations placed on teachers today sadly come from conservatives, not liberals. I think liberal teachers would love to have more field experience alternatives. I don't know too many liberal teachers, or any teachers for that matter, that love testing non-stop, a conservative idea. Also, who is more willing to cut education budgets? Liberals, on the other hand and to be fair, still often come up with theories and practices that often don't work. The PC factor in our schools can also be problematic.

  • Sasha Pachev Provo, UT
    June 19, 2013 11:22 a.m.

    I suggest this. Do away with the lengthy teacher training and certification. Instead make it competitive. Anybody can teach who can show the results. If a guy says he can teach, let him teach. But pay him after the students take a test that he did not administer and only if they score well. This works well in the private market - do we ask for certifications when we hire a private piano teacher?

  • Obama10 SYRACUSE, UT
    June 19, 2013 10:45 a.m.

    Any parent who has kids in school could have told you this. There are some great teachers, but unfortunately they are the minority. Most teachers are mediocre who could not make it in other professions. The great teachers move on to administration. The teachers union makes it nearly impossible to fire bad teachers, so they just get moved from school to school. My kids come home and tell me about their Jr. High and High school teachers who put on a movie and then check their Facebook account or text on their phone. My favorite was my Nephew's math teacher falling asleep during class while they were doing an assignment. The majority of teaching these days is what I call "Lazy Teaching".

  • MyPerspective Salt Lake City, UT
    June 19, 2013 10:25 a.m.

    "Two-star ratings were earned by BYU's elementary education program...BYU's secondary education program and Dixie's elementary education program each received a single star."

    But this just can't be! Clearly the Board is unaware that byu is busting at the seams with scholars, is the best school in the world, that it conducts research in every field known to man, and that every school wants to be byu. There must be something amiss in the results of this study.

  • Carolyn Sharette Sandy, UT
    June 19, 2013 10:06 a.m.

    Any study of this sort is going to be imperfect, and I am sure this one is no exception. I am sure it is is true that not all facts and data were appropriately considered for each institution, and that mistakes were then made which reflected poorly, and incorrectly to some degree, on some of the institutions.

    But if we step back and look at this broadly, there is a clear message: our teaching colleges are not providing the best training that they could provide to prepare our teachers. Among those giving their careers to education, this message should be met with sobriety and humility, and a sincere willingness to make constructive, perhaps rigorous changes to the teacher preparation system.

    Having been an employer of teachers in Utah for the past decade, we have much to offer the conversation of what could be improved. It is such a challenge to find well-prepared teachers. We are still seeking 15-20 teachers for this fall and it is so difficult to find well-prepared candidates. I am willing to work with any stakeholders who would be interested in finding solutions.

    Carolyn Sharette
    Executive Director, American Preparatory Schools

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    June 19, 2013 9:57 a.m.

    County Mom, all the problems you cited are true and present real challenges to education.

    But could it be possible that many of them -- if not most -- are actually the result of CONSERVATIVE meddling in education and not from "liberal" sources?

    Lack of adequate funding, privacy rules that prevent teachers from sharing needed information with other professionals -- and, in some cases, even sharing it with parents, restrictions on disciplinary techniques and hundreds of others have part of their roots in conservative philosophy and legislation.

    Actually, the problems we face in our schools are not caused by a set of "conservative" or "liberal" causes. It's a result of a long history of bi-partisan meddling by people who know little and care little for children and their educations.

    The most prominent lately are No Child Left Behind and the uninformed debate over Common Core that is being pushed by "conservative" commentators who make lots of money by stirring up their listeners. Then there's also the matter of funding.

    There's not enough room here to persuade someone whose mind is already made up, so may I just ask that you do some real investigation?

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    June 19, 2013 9:50 a.m.

    Re: "The council lists some of the factors contributing to educational decline . . . ."

    But, not the main one -- Big Ed's ivory tower syndrome.

    Big Ed, particularly Big "Higher" Ed, abandoned its real mission -- educating students -- years ago.

    Spurred on by cynical unions, accreditation agencies, and the federal Department of Education, "educators" became pampered, self-indulged, self-important "experts" and "researchers," too busy with careerism, "professionalism," and research grant-ism, to worry much about the real object of their professional existence -- students.

    Education colleges are not alone. Or even the worst.

    Ground truth is, NO ONE graduates from college these days, ready for their first job.

    Colleges no longer even pay lip service to that notion, having divorced themselves entirely from market forces and the concept of preparing students for employment, embracing, rather, a "business" model that views the university as a posh, overfunded, unaccountable workplace for unaccountable, uninvolved, non-teaching "professors," who profess primarily contempt for the Nation and economic system that supports them in a style that most Americans can't even imagine, let alone aspire to.

  • FelisConcolor North Salt Lake, UT
    June 19, 2013 9:42 a.m.

    The rankings are fitting, because public schools themselves are an "industry of mediocrity".

  • Irony Guy Bountiful, Utah
    June 19, 2013 9:22 a.m.

    Most of my teacher training classes were abysmal. My supervisor was intoxicated most of the time. However, there were some bright spots. The classes on educational psychology were fascinating and well done. Every teacher needs them.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    June 19, 2013 5:09 a.m.

    It's true, too many education classes of little value. The opportunity cost of all these classes is lost opportunity to get a well rounded education. I am aware of this because my son is studying to become a secondary math school teacher. If teachers were allowed to get better educations, they could be better teachers.

  • county mom Monroe, UT
    June 19, 2013 2:46 a.m.

    I see one old man, now I know why you are so liberal.
    You were one of those who spent years standing in front of a class and had some who listened, some who learned and some who could have cared less.
    Public schools at their finest.
    Now thanks to liberal thinking, we must send our children to places where millions are spent so every child can be average.
    Where the parents of bored exceptionally bright children are told to medicate their kids.
    Where a wonderful biology teacher who wants to take high school children for a trip to a farm for lambing season is reprimanded.
    Where thinking outside of the box will get you sent to the front office!

  • Coach P Provo, UT
    June 18, 2013 10:40 p.m.

    I have mentored many student teachers and I agree with old man to a certain extent. When I came up the training we received in school was subpar. And student teaching was where I learned the most about teaching, along with the first few years. But where I disagree is that I think the colleges are doing better. They now have a plan of how I should mentor the student teachers. They (their supervisors) come around a lot more. I do agree that the most important advice I can give them is to 1) be themselves while teaching and teach from their heart and 2) come up with procedures that work for them (how to take roll, start and end class, transition from one activity to the next). Most of my student teachers, I proudly attest, are doing great at the profession and have stayed in the profession. But, yes the education classes we all had on theory, pedagogy, discipline etc. were mostly a waste. As far as strength in the subject matter, that still lies with the professors in their respective majors not their education professors.

  • bandersen Saint George, UT
    June 18, 2013 10:02 p.m.

    Any review by the Department of Education should be highly suspect.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    June 18, 2013 8:11 p.m.

    Following up -- what is REALLY needed for prospective teachers is a firm grounding in liberal arts and a solid major in any specialized subjects they may teach. You could take all my 40+ hours of "education" classwork and condense it into about five hours and still have time left over.

  • one old man Ogden, UT
    June 18, 2013 8:09 p.m.

    As a retired teacher who graduated with a BS in education back in the stone age, I can attest that our training was well below mediocrity then. But I will have to say that in four years of study, I did become a real expert on reading teacher's guides in our textbooks.

    When I later supervised student teachers, I always advised them to forget most of what they'd learned in their Ed classes and instead teach from the heart. Had to be very careful, though, the supervisors from the college really did not like that at all.

    Not much has changed.