Train Teachers Like Doctors
Shael Polakow-Suransky and two others with an insightful NYT op ed entitled, "Train Teachers Like Doctors":
Our nation has faced — and solved — a similar problem before. In medicine, we long ago recognized that significant study and practice under the guidance of a skilled practitioner are necessary to ensure that doctors are qualified to serve the public. After World War II, we increasingly invested public money in a range of efforts to strengthen doctors' preparation, including stipends for training. We now spend $11.5 billion a year on medical education, roughly $500,000 for every new doctor. For a fraction of that cost we can build a strong system of teacher preparation — good residency programs cost about $65,000 per candidate, including tuition and stipends, according to our calculations.
Much of the money could come from reallocating current resources. States and school districts need to do the tough, detailed work to redirect and focus funds that are not being used well. For example, nationally we spend 7 percent of our instructional budget on substitute teachers, 12 percent on teaching assistants and between $6,000 and $18,000 annually per teacher on professional development that many teachers describe as ineffective. Redirecting a portion of these budgets could help us transform teacher preparation.
Minimal training for teachers is simply not good enough. Legislatures and school districts have proven, affordable options at their disposal.If we are serious about improving public education, we need to invest in our aspiring teachers and ensure they get sustained practice with real coaching and support. The nation will need more than a million new teachers in the next decade. They will be teaching our future doctors, engineers and pilots — all of whom will have high-quality professional training at the side of experts in their field. Our teachers deserve the same.