Monday, July 8, 2013

Why is the AFT Giving Credence to a Much Disparaged National Council on Teacher Quality Study?

The goal of NCTQ is to replace university teacher education programs with programs such as Teach for America and similar brief alternative certification programs. NCTQ is funded by union-busting conservatives and neoliberals who see K-12 education as their next business opportunity and are moving to privatize this public resource as fast as they can. 

The methodology of the NCTQ is notoriously flimsy. Our own experience with the organization underscores this charge. After NCTQ’s “experts” came to “examine” our program at Northeastern Illinois University, we discovered they’d gotten our data confused with those of Northern Illinois University... Why is AFT publishing a fluff piece about them? 
.... April Nauman, Ph.D
Why? Because Randi Weingarten is, as usual, triangulating, commonly known in these parts as "straddling the fence" on ed deform. There has been a lot said over the NCTQ study. See Linda Darling-Hammond on the NCTQ Report | Diane Ravitch's blog.

UPDATE: Also Schneider on NCTQ Report: “Put on Your Hip Boots” - Mercedes Schneider here reviews the controversial NCTQ report. Having reviewed the members of the board, she concludes that NCTQ is uniquely unqualified to... 

Here is April's unpublished letter to the AFT in protest.
Response to NCTQ’s “Lighting the Way: The Reading Panel Report Ought to Guide Teacher Preparation,” published in the AFT’s Summer 2013 American Educator

By April D. Nauman, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Literacy Education, Northeastern Illinois University, Chicago


Why has the AFT’s American Educator published a long feature article by and about the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ)? As an associate professor of literacy education and a proud union member, please allow me to point out the problems in the NCTQ’s logic, the organization itself, and its views of how teacher education programs should prepare future teachers to teach reading.

Kate Walsh and Robert Rickenbrode use nearly two pages describing the intensive care unit checklist to prevent central line infections, developed by Dr. Peter Pronovost at Johns Hopkins University. The authors reason that education is just like the medical profession. Well, not really. Medicine is a hard science; education is a social science. The human spleen works the same no matter where or when its owner is living. The human mind, not so much. Children’s learning is greatly influenced by ever-changing culture and their place in history (e.g., technology has changed approaches to teaching and learning). Moreover, medical research consists of a vast corpus of controlled, double-blind studies. Educational research does not. The analogy of education to medical science is appealing to groups such as NCTQ, which is funded by corporate conservatives, because healthcare in this country is privatized, and they want K-12 education to be, too.

In their article, Rickenbrode and Walsh quote Dr. Pronovost chiding doctors with incorrect beliefs about what causes infection—beliefs, he says, that are “based on information more than a decade old” (p. 31). Rickenbrode and Walsh then go on to extoll the virtues of the National Reading Panel conclusions about reading instruction, which are based on research that is now more than a decade old.

NCTQ likes to refer to the NRP findings as “the science of reading.” This makes it sound very important and conclusive—as though The Truth of reading instruction has now been discovered once and for all. In fact, the NRP’s findings have been heavily critiqued since its release, and more up-to-date research has revealed serious gaps in the report. Ignoring this more timely research seems pretty unscientific.

But apart from questions about the NRP report’s veracity, NCTQ’s complaints that the report’s findings are not taught in teacher education programs is baffling. All five components identified by the NRP—comprehension, vocabulary, fluency, phonics, and phonemic awareness—are staples of all current reading textbooks. It would be extremely hard NOT to teach these components in a class on reading instruction. The methodology of the NCTQ is notoriously flimsy. Our own experience with the organization underscores this charge. After NCTQ’s “experts” came to “examine” our program at Northeastern Illinois University, we discovered they’d gotten our data confused with those of Northern Illinois University.

So why is AFT publishing a fluff piece about them? The goal of NCTQ is to replace university teacher education programs with programs such as Teach for America and similar brief alternative certification programs. NCTQ is funded by union-busting conservatives and neoliberals who see K-12 education as their next business opportunity and are moving to privatize this public resource as fast as they can. 

1 comment:

  1. As an AFT member, I was initially impressed by the article you referred to in your writing. I believe that it was in a recent AFT magazine mailed to my home. The article seemed to be so convincing and left myself wondering about many University Education programs.

    Now I understand just how powerful and pervasive the school deform movement is. Your conclusions regarding corporate takeover of teacher preparation programs seems to be on target. The real question remains; Why is my union so adamant in supporting the demise of teachers??

    ReplyDelete

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