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Who’s Teaching Your Children?

Who’s Teaching Your Children?: Why the Teacher Crisis Is Worse Than You Think and What Can Be Done About It

Copyright Date: 2003
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 240
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  • Book Info
    Who’s Teaching Your Children?
    Book Description:

    Many of the problems afflicting American education are the result of a critical shortage of qualified teachers in the classrooms. The teacher crisis is surprisingly resistant to current reforms and is getting worse. This important book reveals the causes underlying the crisis and offers concrete, affordable proposals for effective reform.Vivian Troen and Katherine Boles, two experienced classroom teachers and education consultants, argue that because teachers are recruited from a pool of underqualified candidates, given inadequate preparation, and dropped into a culture of isolation without mentoring, support, or incentives for excellence, they are programmed to fail. Half quit within their first five years. Troen and Boles offer an alternative, a model of reform they call the Millennium School, which changes the way teachers work and improves the quality of their teaching. When teaching becomes a real profession, they contend, more academically able people will be drawn into it, colleges will be forced to improve the quality of their education, and better-prepared teachers will enter the classroom and improve the profession.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13462-9
    Subjects: Education

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Seymour B. Sarason

    For the layperson who wants to gain an understanding of why educational reform has advanced so little, this is the best book I have come across. I have been in and around the reform movement for more than forty years. I have written a fair amount about it. However much I hoped my books would be read by people other than educators, they were in fact the primary audience I sought to reach. If my hope for a wider audience was dashed, I am confident that a different fate awaits this book.

    It reads like a novel, yet at the...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Prologue
    (pp. 1-4)

    In the sixth grade I already know I am going to be a teacher. It’s not about changing the world. It’s about being like Miss Whitbread, my teacher when I was in the fifth grade, and Mr. Baron, my teacher this year. Before Miss Whitbread, my teachers were older women with gray hair who stood solemnly at the front of the room angrily admonishing me (I’m left-handed) to hold my pencil “correctly,” making me feel clumsy and unattractive and stupid. Miss Whitbread was different. She had red hair and drove a two-toned green-and-white Oldsmobile and reminded me of Nancy Drew,...

  6. Introduction
    (pp. 5-12)

    You are most likely reading this book because from one perspective or another—as a parent, an educator, a taxpayer, a legislator, or a policy maker—you care about the education of children in our public schools. So do we.

    We’ll be blunt. Public education in America is in serious trouble. By “in trouble,” we mean that the number of good classroom teachers, and therefore the quality of teaching itself, is in perilous decline and will continue to worsen. For several years we have been studying the fundamental causes for the crisis, the reason all current education reforms have not...

  7. 1 Your Children Aren’t Getting the Teachers They Deserve
    (pp. 13-23)

    According to a recent Lou Harris poll, nearly 90 percent of Americans believe that putting a well-qualified teacher in every public school classroom is the best way to raise student achievement. They also believe that the quality of the current teaching force does not measure up to what children need and what the nation’s educational goals demand. Fewer than a quarter believe that their local school district always hires fully qualified teachers. Fewer than a third believe that their state’s current teacher licensing requirements ensure that teachers really know how to teach. Fewer than a fifth say that teachers in...

  8. 2 How Teaching Got to Be This Way
    (pp. 25-35)

    The first settlers of our country, in the Northeast, were literate. The colonies were populated by English-speaking Protestants. Literacy was important to them, for Bible study was a cornerstone of their faith. Although this commitment to the value of literacy was at first religious, it soon worked its way into the fabric of American culture, as rapidly emerging economic and social concerns became a powerful influence in the establishment of schools.

    Since most eighteenth-century communities were small—no larger than 2,500 people—the first schools were rural one-room schoolhouses. They remained the model for how public education was administered until...

  9. 3 Teacher Training: How Bad Is It?
    (pp. 37-57)

    Not every potential teacher comes from the lower ranks of academic achievers. We’ve met many a bright young woman and man, and not only from Columbia or Stanford or Wellesley, who is intelligent, energetic, and passionate about becoming a classroom teacher. The research, however, confirms what our experience has shown: the average teacher candidate is . . . well, average. In itself, academic averageness should not present an insurmountable obstacle to becoming a great teacher.

    If, for example, the teacher preparation program into which the candidate is admitted were to compensate for academic insuffciency through academic rigor supplemented by excellent...

  10. 4 Mamas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Teachers
    (pp. 59-88)

    There’s a mournfully humorous country-western tune that warns mothers against letting their babies grow up to be cowboys.¹ The song implores them to encourage their children to become doctors or lawyers instead. Yes, let them be doctors or lawyers, but not teachers. We’re not likely, at least not any time soon, to hear a song encouraging mothers to guide their children into teaching. Teaching is a job fraught with frustration—a dead-end vocation with no career path, low pay, low status, and poor working conditions.

    I was talking to a group of Arts and Sciences faculty members at a forum...

  11. 5 Band-Aids and Boondoggles: The Myths and Realities of “Education Reform”
    (pp. 89-140)

    We have argued that the most critical mission of education reform is the transformation of the teaching profession. We shall now attempt to convince a rightly skeptical audience that one systemic reform—the Millennium School—could change the nature of schools and schooling in America for the better. Teachers and teaching will be so vastly improved by the Millennium School, we maintain, that the result will be a demonstrably better system of education benefiting not only teachers but children and parents as well. To see clearly why this reform—actually a comprehensive program of integrated reforms—would actually work, it...

  12. 6 The Millennium School: A Total Approach to Solving the Fundamental Problems of Elementary Education
    (pp. 141-186)

    When America was an agrarian society in the throes of building a new industrial age, the goal of its education system was to keep as many children in school as possible. Over the past 150 years that goal shifted. Now the goal is academic success for all children; however, the nature of schools and schooling has not changed to accommodate this more recent philosophy. That is why placing more and more demands on a system that is unable to respond adequately will continue to have a deleterious effect on student (and teacher) achievement. Improved student learning will take place only...

  13. Epilogue: E Pluribus Unum
    (pp. 187-188)

    Suddenly, on September 11, 2001, our country came under direct, brutal attack. If many of us felt that our very way of life was being threatened, we were nonetheless heartened by the understanding that, as a democracy, we have the resilience of a unified people to endure and overcome. As a multicultural society, one of the most successful of its kind in history, we draw our strength from many sources. Among our greatest strengths is a shared culture derived from a system of public education that we invented and that serves as a model for the world. It is not...

  14. Notes
    (pp. 189-204)
  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 205-210)
  16. Index
    (pp. 211-222)