- The Obama administration announced new federal rules this week that would allow teacher preparation programs to recruit a more diverse student body by lowering their admissions standards, but the move has drawn criticism from some who say lowering the bar is bad for the profession.
- National Council on Teacher Quality President Kate Walsh told The Hechinger Report she opposes the new rules because entry standards are already low, and lowering them further in the name of diversity is an insult to black and Latino candidates.
- Supporters say the rules will help capable students who come from low-performing high schools, more likely for blacks and Latinos, and they maintain integrity of the profession by requiring high graduation requirements, though Sharon Robinson, president and CEO of the American Association of Colleges for Teacher Education, said diversity issues go deeper than GPA and are a challenge for recruitment.
The U.S. education system has a diversity problem. The vast majority of teachers are white, and a fast-growing portion of students are students of color. There is also a gender gap that reduces the number of male role models students grow up seeing. Research shows students who take classes with teachers who reflect their racial and ethnic backgrounds do better, academically, but many students don’t have that option.
Latino and black advocates have talked about the barriers to entry for teacher preparation programs for years. But critics of the teaching profession already point to the low average ACT score of current teachers. Lowering these standards adds fuel to the fire, even if using test scores from teenage years is a questionable method of assessing adults well into their teaching careers. While it is incumbent on teacher preparation programs to produce high-quality graduates, schools and districts must contribute support and professional development throughout their teachers’ careers.