Thursday, June 4, 2009

Reform-O-Meter takes a hit

Over at Flypaper, Mike Petrilli is keeping the Obama Reform-O-Meter which he has pointing to a fairly neutral education agenda for the President and Secretary Duncan. He needs to point the arrow more to the left this week.

We got notice that the Office of Innovation and Improvement (OII) is beginning to release some of the $635 million they have to dole out under ARRA. They want to give out $143 million to 35 lucky groups to improve teacher quality. From the email:

  • Department of Education (DOE) announces funds to improve the quality of new teachers by creating partnerships among Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs), high-need school districts (local educational agencies-LEAs) their high-need schools, and/or high-need early childhood education (ECE) programs. Partnerships would create model teacher preparation programs at the pre-baccalaureate level through the implementation of specific reforms of the IHE's existing teacher preparation programs, and/or model teaching residency programs for individuals with strong academic and/or professional backgrounds but without teaching experience.

Note that we are not eligible because we are not an Institution of Higher Education even though we currently have an innovative approach that prepares people from professional backgrounds who don’t have teaching experience.

But now, in the name of innovation, the DOE is going to throw a ton of money at groups that have never created a model teacher preparation program. In fact, when they create so-called alternative teacher certification programs they are almost always a few classes short of their normal master’s program.

Exactly the opposite of what Clayton Christensen says we need in order to create disruptive innovations in education. True innovation will not come from within the system. Note that Clayton even refers to ABCTE in this CNN Commentary.

Roughly a third of the “innovation” dollars go to those most firmly entrenched in supporting the status quo. Looks like Mike needs to move the arrow.

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