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WINTER 2014-15
essary to earn two or three certificates in New York state because of the new
hurdles being put in front of teacher candidates. In addition, state and na-
tional accrediting agencies are pressuring schools of education to be much
more selective in allowing people into majors in education at the beginning
of their college careers.
We will soon be faced with only allowing students with GPAs and SAT
scores well above average into education programs. This is politically salable,
but short-sighted. It sounds good to voters that we will only let people who
do well in school be teachers, but there is no good evidence that shows high
GPAs or high SAT scores are at all related to successful teaching.
In fact, there is much more evidence showing that the 800-pound gorilla
in the room affecting education is actually the poverty experienced by the
students. Since poverty is too difficult a problem for politicians to work on,
they choose to try to improve the view out the education window by chang-
ing the draperies.
aspect of the accountability movement is the
nationalization of education. While Race to the Top is considered by many
pundits as one of the greatest and least expensive leaps forward in education,
many career educators are wary of the effects of the national government
reaching into classrooms in each community and deciding for that community
what should be taught and how it should be taught.
Education has always been the poster child for states' rights in the U.S. and
local control was always a cherished and well-defended part of local gover-
nance by school boards. However, increasing political and financial pressures
at the national level have forced many states to accept federal money in ex-
change for adopting the Common Core
Teaching Standards, a uniform, student
learning informed system of teacher as-
sessment, and a few other national ini-
While this homogenization of education in the U.S. is also politically sal-
able to voters (i.e., it sounds good to people), there are many who have se-
rious concerns about the loss of local control, and the commensurate loss
of equipping students within a community with knowledge, skills and dis-
positions that will help to support the economies, industries and job market
in those local communities. "We are educating students to leave" is a
phrase heard in many small communities throughout the country, and the
nationalization of education is exacerbating the problem.
The external challenges to the School of Education at St. Bonaventure
University are complicated and many.
The good news that we can all take to heart in this highly charged politi-
cal landscape is that throughout history, when politics ruled education,
good teachers accommodated all the changes, but kept the teaching pro-
fession the magic, miracle-filled and wondrous vocation it has always been.
The teachers graduating from our programs are those teachers.
that they won't need to worry about
APPR, the Common Core, and all the pressures placed on them by society
because we will teach them all about those things, how to manage them,
and how to be successful at them. That's the least we will do for them. As a
small, private Franciscan institution, though, we will also teach them to see
these accountability measures in their political context, and to understand
that the real challenges of teaching don't sit in chairs in legislatures, they sit
in chairs in your classroom. We teach them that advocating for children in
need, raging against poverty and changing children's lives for the better
are, and will always be, the real challenges of teaching.
>> Continued from page 12
What are you doing in
your field that you
never thought you'd be
Much more paperwork
and professional develop-
ment than I thought! In the
last few years there have
been so many new things
added to our plates: SLOs,
helping to develop reading
grants, new high stakes tests, data reviews and reflections, learning
the new teacher evaluation system, curriculum development, as-
sessment evaluations and development ... It's important to always
keep in mind what your goal is -- doing what's best for your stu-
What is the most valuable or distinguishing thing you
learned at SBU?
SBU gave me the tools to become a lifelong learner. I thought I
would walk out of there with my master's in reading and never look
back. Little did I know I would be back at SBU obtaining my master's
in English just a mere two years later.
What are the desired dispositions/qualities of someone en-
tering your field today?
I think it is important as a new teacher to understand that you don't
know everything. You may be good at what you do, but there are
others who are GREAT at it. Please come into the profession with
the willingness to ask questions and learn from your mentors, the
flexibility to change things that aren't working, and the desire to im-
prove even when you think you don't need it. I would also like to see
new teachers get involved in their school communities. The students
notice when you aren't involved and appreciate when you are.
What gives you hope for your profession?
As cheesy as it sounds, I would have to say my kids. No matter how
bad my day is, there is always one glimmer in it. That glimmer may
be hard to find sometimes, but when I truly reflect on the things that
matter in the classroom, I find it. It might be something as simple as
a smile or a really great answer on a quiz, but it's there. I used to
focus on the glitz and glamour, but now I rejoice in the glimmers! It's
the little things that make me keep coming back to the classroom.
The Changing Landscape ~ School of Education
Visit the School of Education online
Ricci Jeannerette, '10, '14
English teacher at Otto-Eldred High School,
Duke Center, Pa.