by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Terry Stoops writes for the Martin Center about the UNC system’s attempt to improve teacher education programs statewide.
On Valentine’s Day, The University of North Carolina System released “Leading on Literacy: Challenges and Opportunities in Teacher Preparation Across the University of North Carolina System.” For me, it was not love at first sight.
“Leading on Literacy” represents the latest effort by the UNC System to address the shortcomings of teacher education programs generally and literacy instruction particularly. According to its authors, the purpose of the report is to examine how teacher training programs can address the unsatisfactory performance of North Carolina students on federal National Assessment of Educational Progress tests and persistent achievement gaps between student groups. The concern that both will impede economic growth in the state underlies their inquiry, but the report does not include statistics outlining the purported implications of mediocre academic outcomes on the state economy.
Particularly striking is the fact that the model for teacher education has changed very little in the last century. …
… In the end, it is unlikely that “Leading on Literacy” will be a catalyst for the adoption of much-needed reforms in teacher education, let alone spur improvements in the quality of public schooling. The authors’ recommendations deal mostly with course content in teacher education and programmatic concerns, such as the need to “help facilitate early, deliberate, scaffolded, and aligned field experiences” and “Work with [educator preparation programs] to review all courses in each program, paying particular attention to the sequencing and depth of literacy courses.” In fact, nearly all report recommendations are broad, peppered with jargon, and rarely mention the costs or resources required for implementation.