Despite decades of subsidizing educational reforms in the United States, there remains an on-going yearning for effective results. The limitations associated with funding change strategies to address specific populations (or issues) have been compounded by inherent disparities among service providers. Such problems are exacerbated by variations in the attributes of pre-service teacher education programs among institutions and across disciplines within specific institutions. Unless “we” address the issue of differences among teacher training systems in our schools and colleges, future attempts to bring about educational reforms are likely to be doomed by successive waves of novel proposals that have no significant impact upon realizing our goal of systemic change.
Furthermore, educational programs in the United States have been plagued by a continuous stream of authoritative legislation such “no child left behind” and the “race to the top” mandates which affect the professional behavior of practitioners. Thus, a top down administrative hierarchy of federal, state, and local stratum have continuously endorsed round after round of policy initiatives “without” input from practitioners who must implement proposed reforms. These shortcomings are being perpetuated by an over-reliance upon textbooks and/or teacher-centered instructional mechanisms (i.e. lecture, tutorials, standardized tests, etc.) that do not give adequate consideration to the socially dynamic contexts students encounter outside of school. As such, pre-service training programs are skewed toward mastering subject specific knowledge, while less attention is given to developing the professional competence of teachers.
A report published by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) authenticates the reality of “massive teacher shortages … in Sub-Saharan Africa, the Arab States and South Asia …” that may impede goals “to provide every child” in these regions “with a good quality primary [school] education”…. Even in countries such as China, Brazil and India which will need “fewer teachers” in the coming decades because of “declining school-age populations”; UNESCO recognizes the potential to improve education quality by investing more resources to train teachers and improve working conditions in target regions (UNESCO: Institute for Statistics, 2006, p.3). Unfortunately, many countries have yet to establish a framework of fundamental schooling. Given this fact, imagine the potential number of secondary practitioners that must be trained around the globe!
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