Once the world leader in education, the United States has slipped well into the middle of the pack.
While there is no shortage of causes for America's educational decline -- budget cutbacks, poverty, crowded classrooms, and shorter school years - a prime culprit is teacher education, according to a major new study by the National Council on Teacher Quality (NCTQ).
Library Director Crosby Kemper III holds a public conversation with NCTQ President Kate Walsh about the recently released Teacher Prep Review: A Review of the Nation's Teacher Prep Programs on Tuesday, July 30, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. at the Plaza Branch, 4801 Main St.
The NCTQ's Teacher Prep Review - which looked at 1,130 institutions that prepare 99 percent of the nation's traditionally trained new teachers - finds that too many colleges and universities have become part of "an industry of mediocrity," churning out first-year teachers with inadequate knowledge and classroom management skills.
As the product of eight years of development and 10 pilot studies, the standards set and investigated by the NCTQ are part of an effort to bring transparency to the way America's teachers are prepared. Yet the organization noted in the review's executive summary that it encountered "enormous resistance from leaders of many of the programs" it sought to assess and, in some cases, had to sue for the needed public information.
With the current wave of baby-boomer teacher retirements, novices make up a greater share of the teacher workforce than ever before. Twenty-five years ago, if you asked a teacher how much experience he or she had, the most common response would have been 15 years; if you ask the same question of teachers today, the answer is one year.
Kate Walsh has served as president of the National Council on Teacher Quality since 2002. Previously she worked for the Abell Foundation in Baltimore, the Baltimore City Public Schools, and the Core Knowledge Foundation, focusing primarily on underserved children.
She started and ran a boarding school in Kenya to educate at-risk boys from Baltimore and has developed one of the nation's premier programs in mathematics and science for middle and secondary public school students.
Co-sponsored by the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, which is one of 65 foundation funders of the Teacher Prep Review, and the only funder in Missouri and Kansas.
Admission is free. A 6 p.m. reception precedes the event. RSVP atkclibrary.org  or call 816.701.3407.