By now, many of you have probably read Bill Keller‘s op-ed piece in the New York Times published October 20, titled An Industry of Mediocrity, a title taken from a quote by the National Council on Teacher Quality. The article ends with the line:
It’s about time the leaders of our education schools … feel threatened.
The piece is a frank look at the state of teacher training in the United States, including the good – such as the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation which:
requires prospective teachers to spend a full year inside schools working alongside veterans, and provides three years of postgraduate mentoring in the classroom.
But most of the article looks at the bad:
… only 23 percent of American teachers … come from the top third of college graduates …
… schools see no incentive to change because they have plenty of applicants willing to pay full tuition …
… programs are relatively cheap to run, and they are accountable to no one except accrediting agencies run by, you guessed it, education schools. It’s a contented cartel.
The latest interesting news about Keller’s op-ed is that it’s been picked up by Australia’s The Age, who republished the piece November 8 under the title Teacher training “from inadequate to appalling’. Apparently Australia is looking at America’s situation with teachers.
But why? The problem in Australia is somewhat different. Consider a piece from March 2013, in The Australian, titled Millions wasted training teachers, which included this quote:
about 90 per cent of teachers graduating university in NSW and Queensland fail to find a job, while about 40,000 teachers in NSW and 16,000 teachers in Queensland are on departmental waiting lists for a permanent job.
In the 2009 publication Improving Teacher Quality: The U.S. Teaching Force in Global Context, authors Motoko Akiba and Gerald LeTendre consider the successful teaching industries in Australia and Japan and look for ways the United States might benefit from studying their model.
Perhaps The Age was providing a hint to those teachers coming from the successful Australian model: to look to America for a job.
Perhaps the United States should consider expanding its candidate search pool into Australia.