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Urban or Rural Teacher Education Programs

Posted By: Gerardo Torres on March 21, 2011
The evaluation and ranking of schools of education nationwide have overlooked the particular functions and missions of specific SOE and their contexts where they are located. While there are universal standards, knowledge, and procedures that apply to all SOE, there are also histories, contextual and cultural characteristics that mold and inform the particular functions of SOE. While some SOE are research oriented and others focus their teaching on specific pedagogical practices and related theories, some SOE design, respond and base their curricula on the social, linguistic and economic conditions of the communities surrounding such schools. Consequently, the evaluation and ranking of SOE must also include the particulars that inform and mold these schools.

Vanderbilt University, Harvard school of Education and Teachers College at Columbia University were recently listed by US News and World Report (2011) as the best SOE in the USA. A study of the demographics of these three schools would reveal an absence of particular evaluation categories and items that are found in schools not considered as exemplary. To evaluate and rank SOE using universal, general categories not only would exclude the items and concerns previously mentioned but also would deny opportunities provided by selected schools to given populations that otherwise would not consider attending the elite schools. And these elite schools do not address these particular histories and cultural contexts.

From urban settings where large numbers of women work as teacher aides in city schools throughout the nation to rural areas where students experience farm related concerns there are SOE serving the social and economic characteristics of these populations. In urban settings students of education work mostly in communities that are characterized by poverty and related social conditions, but these communities also are characterized by richness in language and cultural diversity. In rural areas students are faced with seasonal work and contextual conditions that not only affect their studies but the studies of the students they will be working with. And as the urban teacher education students experience richness in cultural diversity, the rural students are exposed to farm and agricultural experiences that can inform their learning about educational theories and practices.

Contextual and diversity in missions must be used when designing the framework and instruments that are to be used when carrying out SOE rankings. In order to provide an impartial evaluation, representatives from these diverse teacher education communities must participate in developing a conceptual framework that would include these differences.

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 Urban or Rural Teacher Education Programs by Gerardo Torres on March 21, 2011
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