Private Practice

I talk to Professor Ken Zeichner about how the push to deregulate teacher preparation fits into our privatized, for-profit times…

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JenniferBerkshire: You’ve been leading a one-man crusade to expose what you say are false claims being made by the Relay Graduate School of Education and other startup teacher training programs. How’s it going?

Ken Zeichner: Not well. Although the state of Pennsylvania recently denied Relay’s application to offer a graduate degree upon completion of its program in the state on the grounds that it isn’t actually a graduate school, Relay has just signed a contract with the Philadelphia schools to run a teacher residency in Philly with the goal of increasing teacher diversity in the city. The issue of diversifying the teaching force is extremely important, but if you’re going to place your resources somewhere in order to reach this goal, the research suggests that you would invest in grow-your-own programs, high-quality teacher residency programs (which Relay is not), induction and mentoring, and improving working conditions and access to high quality professional learning opportunities in the high-poverty schools in which many teachers of color work. You wouldn’t bring in a program like Relay that can provide no evidence at all that their teachers stay, even though they’ve been in existence since 2007. What good is it if you bring in teachers but aren’t able to retain them? Continue reading →

Teach Like It’s 1895

Teach Like a Champion’s pedagogical model is disturbingly similar to one that was established almost a century ago for the express purpose of maintaining racial hierarchy…

By Layla Treuhaft-Ali
As an aspiring teacher and a history major, I’ve become fascinated by teacher education, past and present. Which is why I decided to embark on a close reading of Doug Lemov’s Teach Like A ChampionThe book, and its teaching techniques, looms large for any teacher who works in an urban school. Not only has the TLC model of teaching become a fixture of most *high-performing* charter school networks, but it is increasingly making its way into urban school districts as well. And that’s just the start. Teach Like a Champion’s approach also underlies broad efforts to transform the way teachers are educated, forming the *backbone of instruction* at an expanding number of charter-school-owned teacher education centers like Relay Graduate School of Education and Match’s Sposato School of Education.

As I was reading Teach Like A Champion, I observed something that shocked me. The pedagogical model espoused by Lemov is disturbingly similar to one that was established almost a century ago for the express purpose of maintaining racial hierarchy.

Teach Like A Champion advertises 49 discrete techniques that teachers can master to raise student achievement and help increase their students’ college readiness, with a strong emphasis on classroom culture and shaping student behavior, down to the most minute actions. As I was reading Teach Like A Champion, I observed something that shocked me. The pedagogical model espoused by Lemov is disturbingly similar to one that was established almost a century ago for the express purpose of maintaining racial hierarchy. Like Teach Like a Championthis initiative was implemented largely through teacher education and funded and directed entirely by wealthy white businessmen and industrial philanthropists. Continue reading →

If This Post Feels Entirely Recycled, That’s Because It Is (Much Like #TeachStrong)

Welcome (back) to Lake Wobegon Academy, where every teacher is highly effective, and every student is (still) in the top quintile…


Oh #TeachStrong… Like one’s loved ones, there is something irritatingly familiar about you. In fact, as I poked about your super cool new website, I couldn’t help but feel as though we’d met somewhere before. Because we have met before. I’ll never forget that day back in June of 2013. You charmed me with that line about *a virtuous cycle of excellence and higher pay for all teachers.* Well, maybe not all teachers (wink, wink!). You called yourself the *Opportunity Culture,* and I was totes smitten, especially when I watched the super cool video that I am helpfully including below. And now, like *funeral baked meats,* here you are again, part of the #TeachStrong family. What say you *Opportunity Culture,* shall we get re-acquainted again? For old-time’s sake? Continue reading →

Teacher Under Construction

Stephanie Rivera talks teacher prep, the importance of a diverse teaching force and why, if you want her to stop teaching, you’ll have to carry her out of her classroom…

Stephanie 1Edushyster: You’re about to begin your student teaching through the teacher prep program at Rutgers. Since we know for a fact that teacher prep is useless, why did you choose this particular path?

Stephanie Rivera: I don’t think that teacher prep programs are useless. In fact I’d argue that they do a much better job preparing us to be in the classroom than some of the alternatives that are out there. I’ll be spending the fall student teaching, then in the spring I’ll be working on a community project with a school in New Brunswick. I’ll be helping students do research and acquire the skills to bring about change in their community. Continue reading →

Knowledge Ventriloquism

Ken Zeichner takes us inside the teacher prep war echo chamber

dummy 1EduShyster: You introduced me to one of my favorite new concepts—*knowledge ventriloquism.* The release of the National Council on Teacher Quality *review* of the nation’s teacher prep programs seems like an appropriate time to share this concept with the world. So what is *knowledge ventriloquism*? Break it down for us.

Ken Zeichner: It’s a particularly useful concept these days. Basically what you have is an echo chamber effect where think tanks and other advocacy groups just keep repeating each other’s claims until they are thought to be true. There’s a research component too, except that the research isn’t independent. In fact, you can usually predict what the findings are going to be be based on who is doing the research. Cherry picking is another essential component of *knowledge ventriloquism.* Advocates of a particular position or program will selectively choose certain findings and ignore others. The problem is that by the time any of this reaches the mainstream media and the headlines, any nuance or complexity is lost. Continue reading →