A New Policy to Transform Teacher Education: Doctoral Preparation of Teacher-Scholars

Article excerpt

The theoretical springboard for this article is the PEW Charitable Trust's report "Who Should Teach: Quality Counts 2000" [Special issue] Education Week (January, 2000). Volume XIX, Number 18. The article asserts that a Doctor of Arts (D.A.) Degree, as developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching to improve postsecondary education teaching, should now be employed to improve teacher education. To do so would serve as an important innovation to transform teacher preparation and enhance the teaching profession. A description of the teaching doctorate is presented with the focus on relevance of the D.A. for advanced secondary education teacher preparation. Finally, an interpretation of what the new D.A. "teacher-scholar" means to the recruitment and retention of the best and brightest into the profession of public schooling and how doctoral preparation can advance a resurgence of the notion of teachers being society's "public intellectuals" is explored.

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Educational leaders, politicians, and policy analysts are seeking alternative means to effectively reform teacher preparation. There is an increasing urgency regarding the shortage of teachers to serve growing student populations. The problem is grounded in some obvious facts: (1) Fewer persons are choosing to pursue a career in the teaching profession, (2) those who do choose the profession are abandoning the field at an alarming rate, and, (3) for many the most challenging issue, the professional integrity of many entering the classroom through alternative routes is under critical scrutiny. (Edwards and Chromioter, 2000; Hammond-Darling, 1999; McNergeney and Herbert, 1997).

The establishment of a specific doctorate for teacher education is a segment of the problem that has not been fully explored. Advanced doctoral preparation of teachers is a unique proposal. The Carnegie Foundation developed the Doctor of Arts (D.A) degree for the Advancement of Teaching, as "the teaching doctorate." The primary objective was to to improve postsecondary pedagogy. The D.A is currently in place at Ball State, Idaho State, St. John's University, University of Mississippi, George Mason University, University of North Dakota, Middle Tennessee State University, Clark University, and SUNY, but unfamiliar to most in teacher education.

Will the some of the future's best and brightest of American society enter the teaching profession? Is there a means to keep good teachers in the classroom? How can we effectively enhance the professionalization of teachers? These questions constitute a triadic quandary of recruitment, retention and professionalization and are a complex challenge for educational leadership. We assert that the D.A. should be explored as a new policy in higher education in the movement to transform the teaching profession. The Doctor of Arts in Teacher Education, in concert with other worthwhile proposals, has the potential collectively to transform the teaching profession.

The Policy Issue: Who Should Teach?

The recent high profile report: Who Should Teach?: Quality Counts 2000 ([Special Issue]. Education Week. Volume XIX, Number 18) documented that there is a national crisis regarding the increasing shortage of teachers. Our nation will need more than 2.2 million more teachers over the next decade. To address the problem, educational policies analysts have have followed two primary reform movements: (1) The first movement is the "quantitative" policy reform, and (2) the second movement is the "qualitative" policy reform. The objective of both of these movements have degrees of merit.

Quantitative Policy Reform: These educationists focus on the growing urgency regarding the shortage of teachers in the classroom and the immediate results on public schooling arising from this crisis. Quantitative reformists have focused on liberal alternative "supply-side" strategies geared toward expanding the recruitment base to include persons without conventional teacher preparation. …