Our blog offers top insights and analysis of the education sector from our staff, member deans, and guest authors. We update it weekly so check back often!
A new report, Scaling Solutions Toward Shifting Systems, captures a subtle but important “shift in the discourse” in the philanthropic community toward supporting more sustained, deeper-level transformations in society. Benjamin Riley argues this is a very good thing, as philanthropic organizations can play key roles in transforming complex systems when they remain committed to sustained change over time.
Tom Philion is the dean of the College of Education at Chicago’s Roosevelt University, which was founded in 1945 with a mission of making higher education available to all students who qualify academically, regardless of their backgrounds. Roosevelt is the second most diverse college in Illinois, and about 45 percent of the university’s students are the first in their families to attend college. We spoke to Tom recently about how his personal experiences have influenced his approach to educator preparation and why he joined Deans for Impact.
In the fall of 2016, she asked Deans for Impact to support her college in designing a Teacher Education Institute (funded by the Belk Foundation) to bring together coursework faculty, supervisors, and mentor teachers for a four-day professional learning experience where teacher-educators could build common language to describe teacher-candidate practice and learn how to coach candidates more effectively.
Michael Hillis is the dean of the Graduate School of Education at California Lutheran University, a private, liberal-arts university located in Southern California. In its 25-year history, the Graduate School has prepared more than 8,000 professionals in K-12 and higher education, and currently offers 10 graduate programs through the departments of Learning and Teaching, Counselor Education, and Educational Leadership. We spoke to him recently about why he joined Deans for Impact and his passion for transforming teacher preparation.
When Cheryl Holcomb-McCoy started her first teaching job right out of college, she assumed she was ready for the realities of the classroom. But her new school was experiencing a major demographic shift. Of the 26 students in her class, 15 did not speak English. And not a single professor in her preparation program had ever talked about how to teach English-language learners or even just students from different cultural backgrounds.
“I felt totally unprepared,” said Holcomb-McCoy, now dean of the School of Education at American University and a 2017 Impact Academy fellow. “That was my first ‘Aha!’ moment: Something has to change in teacher-preparation.”
Dr. Andrea Kent is the dean of the University of South Alabama’s College of Education and Professional Studies, which is the largest teacher-preparation program on the Gulf Coast. The College enrolls about 2,100 students across 15 academic programs at five degree levels, ranging from the baccalaureate to the doctoral degree. Dr. Kent was a fellow in the inaugural cohort of Deans for Impact’s Impact Academy. We spoke to her recently about why she joined Deans for Impact and why, to her, teacher preparation is personal.
Anthony Graham is the dean of the College of Education at North Carolina A&T State University, which is the country’s largest Historically Black College and University (HBCU). The College enrolls about 1,250 students in its undergraduate and graduate programs and has about 50 full-time tenure-track faculty. Dr. Graham was a fellow in the inaugural cohort of Deans for Impact’s Impact Academy. We spoke to him recently about why he joined Deans for Impact and how his own educational experiences influence his approach to educator preparation.
“You can find evidence to support whatever you want.” It’s a common refrain heard in policy circles – but what happens when the evidence appears to say nothing at all? While one recent study appears to suggest that educator-preparation programs do not vary meaningfully in their performance – and thus data on performance should not be used for policy decisions – a more nuanced understanding of the interrelationship between research, policy, and practice may lead to a more nuanced conclusion.
That’s why at Deans for Impact we describe our mission – to transform the U.S. educator-preparation system to be the best in the world – in generational terms. Our members are acting now to improve their programs, to change existing policies, and to demonstrate our collective impact. But it will take years for these changes to take root and to spread to the broader field.
Today marks a day both bittersweet and joyous here in Austin, as Dr. Cassandra Herring formally launches the Branch Alliance for Educator Diversity (BranchED), a new organization devoted to building capacity at educator-preparation programs within minority-serving institutions (MSIs).