Dartmouth’s Millennial Action Coalition put on a summit yesterday to discuss education and health care policy and how youth can play a leadership role is addressing the big policy issues facing the country. A number of legislators were there, including Reps. Marjorie Porter (D-Hillsborough) and Lorrie Carey (D-Boscawan).
One of the highlights was a panel called “Redefining Teacher Quality and Effective Training,” featuring Irv Richardson, Coordinator for Public Education and School Improvement, NEA-NH; Meredith Liu, Chief Financial Officer, Match Education, a charter school, teacher education and consulting nonprofit in Boston; Page Tompkins, Director, Upper Valley Educators Institute, a 40 year-old nonprofit that trains adults as teachers by emphasizing classroom experience.
All three made important contributions to understanding the issues facing public education today. Irv Richardson gave a punchy and fast moving but comprehensive historical review on the issues facing teacher training in the United States. He started at the heart of the matter, that we really to not have a national consensus on what the goal of a public school education should be in the United States – basic academic knowledge, critical thinking, preparation for employment, appreciation of the arts and literature, citizenship and community responsibility? We see this in the Common Core debate, the teacher preparation debate and throughout our discussion of public education.
Unlike public schools, each charter school is free to establish its own goals and sometimes parents can even shop for a school that meets reflects their priorities. Taken too far, that kind of choice would come at the sacrifice of a shared system of public education. But Meredith Liu talked about the constructive role charter schools can play in the overall context of public education and described Match’s innovative teacher “residency” program that maximizes the actual practice of teaching.
Page Tompkins described the UVEI program that emphasizes classroom experience as teacher preparation and went on the describe “common assessment” that New Hampshire teacher preparation programs are developing together to measure their success in developing good teachers. They have formed the New Hampshire Institutions of Higher Education Network to support these and other cooperative efforts.
Dr. Tompkins stressed that, as different as the various New Hampshire programs are, they are finding consensus on what good teaching is and how to measure it. The New Hampshire Department of Education has been supportive their efforts to figure this out for themselves. The New Hampshire common assessment effort is building on work done by California teachers and discussed here on their site and the Network anticipates having an initial product by September of 2014.