Thursday, November 18, 2010

Another Step Backwards on Teacher Education

Mary E O'Leary:

Yale University is shutting down its small, intense teacher preparation master’s degree in urban education. Similarly, its undergraduate early childhood and secondary certificate programs will be available to Yale College classes only through 2012, although noncertificate courses in education studies will still be offered.

The Urban Education Studies graduate program, launched in 2005, combined advanced courses with clinical experience designed to prepare students to teach in an urban setting and the students who went through it can't praise it enough.

"What's so tough about teaching is that it is structurally isolated. There is not a lot of professional back and forth," said Michelle Shortsleeve, 26, who came from Boston to participate in the program.

But Shortsleeve said the approach of the degree was different. From the beginning of the 14-month program, students alternated between intense three-week academic courses, followed by teaching—the initial stint in the first summer in the Yale Scholar program with local high school students.

By the time she finished, she had taught four more classes of public school teens with the help of a mentor and regular debriefings with professors who would observe. Yale covered the full cost of tuition for the master's degree...

Tara Stevens, a program graduate who teaches at Bishop Woods School, said she applied for the master's after working at Yale and teaching freshman writing at Southern Connecticut State University.

"The gulf between the sort of wealth and opportunities I saw at Yale and the preparation of my urban Southern students led me to investigate exactly what was going on in school systems, and to do my part to remedy what I could," Stevens said in a letter to the editor appearing today.

She sees the master's as a longterm solution where Yale was committing time and resources to the problem.

"Yale has made the decision to avoid getting down and dirty with the problem. Instead, the university had decided to throw money at it, as though New Haven schools were a charity just waiting for Yale's benevolence," Stevens wrote, although she sees New Haven Promise "as a wonderful opportunity for city students who are able to reach its very high standards."

No comments: