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Venture Philanthropy and Teacher Education Policy in the U.S: The Role of the New Schools Venture Fund


by Kenneth Zeichner & César Peña-Sandoval — 2015

Background & Purpose: This article focuses on the growing role of venture philanthropy in shaping policy and practice in teacher education in the United States. Our goal is to bring a greater level of transparency to private influences on public policy and to promote greater discussion and debate in the public arena about alternative solutions to current problems. In this article, we focus on the role of one of the most influential private groups in the United States that invests in education, the New Schools Venture Fund (NSVF), in promoting deregulation and market-based policies.

Research Design: We examine the changing role of philanthropy in education and the role of the NSVF in developing and promoting a bill in the U.S. Congress (the GREAT Act) that would create a system throughout the nation of charter teacher and principal preparation programs called academies. In assessing the wisdom of the GREAT Act, we examine the warrant for claims that education schools have failed in their mission to educate teachers well and the corresponding narrative that entrepreneurial programs emanating from the private sector are the solution.

Conclusions: We reject both the position that the status quo in teacher education is acceptable (a position held by what we term “defenders”) and the position that the current system needs to be “blown up” and replaced by a market economy (“reformers”). We suggest a third position (“transformers”) that we believe will strengthen the U.S. system of public teacher education and provide everyone’s children with high-quality teachers. We conclude with a call for more trenchant dialogue about the policy options before us and for greater transparency about the ways that private interests are influencing public policy and practice in teacher education.



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Cite This Article as: Teachers College Record Volume 117 Number 6, 2015, p. -
http://www.tcrecord.org ID Number: 17539, Date Accessed: 9/22/2014 12:12:29 PM

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About the Author
  • Kenneth Zeichner
    University of Washington
    E-mail Author
    KEN ZEICHNER is the Boeing Professor of Teacher Education, University of Washington, and professor emeritus, University of Wisconsin-Madison. His recent publications include: Xudong, Z., & Zeichner, K. (Eds.). (2014) Preparing teachers for the 21st century. Beijing, China: Springer; Zeichner, K. (2012). The turn once again toward practice-based teacher education. Journal of Teacher Education, 63(5), 376–382; and Zeichner, K., & Payne, K. (2013). Democratizing knowledge in urban teacher education. In J. Noel (Ed.), Moving teacher education into urban schools and communities (pp. 3–19). New York: Routledge.
  • César Peña-Sandoval
    University of Washington
    E-mail Author
    CÉSAR PEÑA-SANDOVAL is a Ph.D. student at the University of Washington. He was a secondary school teacher in Chile and received a master’s degree in education from the University of Chile in 2008. His research interests are teacher education, culturally relevant and social justice-oriented pedagogy, and international issues of teacher education. A recent publication is: Peña-Sandoval, C. (2011) Desigualdad educativa y la necesidad de un enfoque de justicia social en la formación docente [educational inequity and the need for a social justice approach in teacher education]. CISMA, Revista del Centro Telúrico de Investigaciones Teóricas. Nº 1, 2º semestre, 1-2.
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