Academic journal article Issues in Teacher Education

"Ah, Yes, I Remember It Well": Reflections on Being in California Teacher Education

Academic journal article Issues in Teacher Education

"Ah, Yes, I Remember It Well": Reflections on Being in California Teacher Education

Article excerpt

H: We met at nine

M: We met at eight

H: I was on time

M: No, you were late

H: Ah, yes, I remember it well

We dined with friends

M: We dined alone

H: A tenor sang

M: A baritone

H: Ah, yes, I remember it well

That dazzling April moon!

M: There was none that night

And the month was June

H: That's right. That's right.

M: It warms my heart to know that you remember still the way you do

H: Ah, yes, I remember it well

Honore (Maurice Chevalier); Mamita (Hermione Gingold) (From the MGM musical, Gigi, 1958)

Asking the elderly to remember past events can lead to the sort of bantering dialogue between Honore and Mamita in the musical Gigi. People, events, and stories all begin to elide one into the other and one can easily re-write history to improve one's own role or denigrate one's enemies. Writing history can be an act of revenge or an act of intentional forgetfulness, and, occasionally, the truth is told. Nonetheless, I was deeply honored to be asked to write something about my time of active involvement in the world of teacher education in California. In 2002, I left the field of education for a career that pays less and has a more uncertain future than teaching. Thus, I am not current with public policy or teacher education research issues. These words will be that of one who once had a small part to play on a very large stage with people far greater than I could ever be.

For the record, my first ever California Council on the Education of Teachers (CCET) meeting was the fall gathering in 1976. I attended virtually every Cal Council meeting until the mid-1990s so my time with CCET embraces almost a quarter century. Those were interesting times, to borrow from the ancient Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times."

Some Things "I Remember Well"

I remember standing with almost open jaw as I watched Superintendent of Public Instruction Wilson Riles singing Negro spirituals at the piano during the CCET President's reception at the Awhanee Hotel, Yosemite, California with Al Shanker ("Uncle Al the Teacher's Pal") from the American Federation of Teachers in New York joining in on the chorus. That was my first Cal Council conference and what an introduction it was to this world of teacher education in California. So many of the post-World War II leaders in teacher education were still active. These were the people who built so many schools of education, opened so many schools, and worked collaboratively since 1945 to address the pressing needs of California's public schools.

At that same conference, I remember Gary Fenstermacher's keynote address-"The Quest for Quality in Teacher Education" based on Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Gary was then at UCLA and had been the University of California representative to the first independent teaching standards board in the U.S., the then Commission on Teacher Preparation and Licensing. I suspect that speech could still be given to this day. It rightly received a standing ovation.

I confess that I thought those halcyon days of cooperation and intellectual fervor might continue. I was to be proved wrong. Other forces were at work in California and fault lines that had been present all along were about to be split open by the press of partisan politics, the demands for more radical reform, and the desire for power, money, and control.

And so, I remember Linda Bond-then staff to Senate Education Committee Chair Gary Hart-being a keynote speaker at the San Jose spring conference in either 1977 or 1978. Linda cheerfully and passionately told all of us teacher educators that we were dinosaurs at the water hole. It was change or die time for us all. Traditional teacher education was inadequate, expensive, and would soon be obsolete.

That salvo was followed by a slow deterioration of our relationship with the Department of Education. Somehow we managed to move from Wilson Riles coming to CCET to Bill Honig lecturing to us about our faults with great glee and great regularity to Delaine Eastin avoiding being in the same room with a teacher educator. …

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