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Teaching Teachers

Changing Paths and Enduring Debates

As recently as 1990, if a person wanted to become a public school teacher in the United States, he or she needed to attend an accredited university education program. Less than three decades later, the variety of routes into teaching is staggering. In Teaching Teachers, education historians James W. Fraser and Lauren Lefty look at these alternative programs through the lens of the past.

Fraser and Lefty explain how, beginning in 1986, an extraordinary range of new teaching programs emerged, most of which moved teacher education out of universities. In some school districts and charter schools, superintendents started their own teacher preparation programs—sometimes in conjunction with universities, sometimes not. Other teacher educators designed blended programs, creating collaboration between university teacher education programs and other parts of the university, linking with school districts and independent providers, and creating a range of novel options.

Fraser and Lefty argue that three factors help explain this dramatic shift in how teachers are trained: an ethos that market forces were the solution to social problems; long-term dissatisfaction with the inadequacies of university-based teacher education; and the frustration of school superintendents with teachers themselves, who can seem both underprepared and too quick to challenge established policy. Surveying which programs are effective and which are not, this book also examines the impact of for-profit teacher training in the classroom. Casting light on the historical and social forces that led to the sea change in the ways American teachers are prepared, Teaching Teachers is a substantial and unbiased history of a controversial topic.

About the Authors

James W. Fraser is a professor of history and education at New York University. He is the author or editor of twelve books, including Between Church and State: Religion and Public Education in a Multicultural America and Teach: A Question of Teaching. Lauren Lefty is a doctoral candidate in the History of Education program at New York University.

Endorsements

"Taking an even-handed and engaging approach, Fraser and Lefty describe a full range of developments in teacher preparation. Fully disclosing their own stakes in these debates, they show that they are unafraid to critique programs with which they have worked, and they are fair in offering praise for more traditional aspects of other programs. Their exceedingly well-considered analyses have pushed me to reevaluate my own—and I am grateful for that."

- Jackie M. Blount, The Ohio State University, coeditor of Philosophy and History of Education: Diverse Perspectives on Their Value and Relationship

"An unblinking look at the motley efforts to prepare teachers in the United States over the past three decades. History, in the hands of Fraser and Lefty, instructs us about what is new—and what is not—in contemporary ‘reforms.’ Only by looking back through time can we learn what not to repeat, and what to build on, as we prepare future teachers to meet the ever-shifting demands of society and the unchanging needs of our diverse pre-K–12 students."

- Mary M. Brabeck, New York University, coeditor of Meeting at the Hyphen: Schools-Universities-Communities-Professions in Collaboration for Student Achievement and Well Being

"Fraser and Lefty's work rises above partisan squabbles over the efficacy of different pathways into teaching to explain the complex and contentious current landscape for teacher education in the United States. Teaching Teachers should be required reading for teacher educators on all sides of the debates and for all those who are involved in developing politics affecting teaching and teacher education. This important book will become a classic in the field."

- Kenneth M. Zeichner, University of Washington, author of The Struggle for the Soul of Teacher Education
Johns Hopkins University Press
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Between Church and State, second edition

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