Other than teaching, is there a profession anywhere else in the world where the movement is toward less training and preparation? Are there any programs that will give you a medical license for doing work in a hospital without going to medical school? Is there a movement to make people lawyers who've never been to law school? What about teaching makes it so different?
Here in New York, the Board of Regents has approved a program that will allow programs like Teach for America to create their own masters programs so that participants can get their masters without going to an actual education school.
Not to be flip, but would we allow Doctors for America (if such a program exists) to grant medical degrees based on work done in poor hospitals around the country? Would we allow them to set up non-accredited programs to grant those degrees and then accept them as valid?
A few things seem pretty clear to me when I read a story like this. First, traditional education schools have messed up. Either they've screwed up the way they prepare teachers or they've screwed up their own PR because people seem not to think that they're preparing teachers well. It's a problem no matter which way you cut it.
Second, people think that because they've been in school, they're an expert on school policies and how schools should be run and that everyone can just do it. That's why we have lawyers running school systems and masters degrees being given by non-accredited institutions. We wouldn't put up with this in the medical profession, but teaching is seen as somehow less.
I do have to say that while I have major misgivings about what this actually means and what it indicates, I do strongly believe that an education program should have a strong focus on practical, inside the classroom elements. I don't think that should totally replace theory (which helps inform those inside the classroom elements), but they do need to be a strong component of any program.
What I oppose is the de-professionalization of teaching. I can't help but think that this is a step down that road.