NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Nation's Teachers Get Low Marks In New Study

September 13, 1996

"States pay more attention to the qualifications of veterinarians treating the nation's cats and dogs than to those of teachers educating the nation's children and youth," according to a report by the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future. The group, a nonpartisan panel of governors, educators and business leaders, said that more than one-quarter of the nation's new teachers enter classrooms without adequate teaching skills or training in their subject.

The report, "What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future," also made these observations:

  • Fewer than half the nation's 1,200 teacher's colleges meet professional standards of accreditation.
  • In recent years, more than 50,000 teachers who lack training for their jobs have entered teaching annually on emergency or substandard certification.
  • More than 40 states allow school districts to hire teachers who have not met basic education requirements and more than 12 percent of new teachers nationwide begin with no training at all.
  • The report recommended making it easier to fire incompetent teachers and close substandard schools of education.

Among its other recommendations: set strict accountability and licensing standards for teachers and education schools, reformulate teachers' education to include a year-long internship and increase financial rewards for good teachers.

But Chester Finn, an Assistant Secretary of Education in the Bush administration, criticized the panel -- which included teachers' union representatives -- as representing the status quo and those who benefit from it. "If you put out a 10-most-wanted list of who's killing American education, I'm not sure you would have the teachers' unions or the education school faculties higher on the list," said Finn.

Source: Peter Applebome, "Report on Training of Teachers Gives the Nation a Dismal Grade," New York Times, September 13, 1996.


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