Jean K. Quam: American Dream lives on at the U

November 27, 2009

In her Nov. 22 column, Katherine Kersten suggested that the future of teacher preparation at the University of Minnesota will be a process of ideological indoctrination denouncing “the American Dream.” Just the opposite is true. The American Dream lives and thrives in the College of Education and Human Development.

The college is engaged in a significant rethinking of its teacher education programs, and its main focus is on improving student learning across Minnesota. The Teacher Education Redesign Initiative, with support from education partners throughout the state, will be a national model for preparing teachers for the real challenges of a 21st-century classroom.

We do not take a narrow view of who is an American and who can achieve the dream. We expect and require that teachers of the next half-century take a broad, balanced view of that dream.

As the premier public research institution in the state, the university is uniquely positioned to develop this initiative by connecting ongoing research to teacher preparation programs and to partnerships with school systems in the state. We recognize that now is a critical time to address barriers to student achievement and to give teachers and administrators the tools they need to be effective.

The proposal for this initiative has taken more than a year to develop and has included the work of more than 50 faculty members and Minnesota educators. Seven task groups collected wide-ranging ideas last summer on important areas that inform the initiative: families and communities; special education; technology standards; English language learners; reading; assessment and learning; and race, class, culture and gender. Reports generated by these task groups are not policy, but a set of working ideas brought forward for discussion. The broader scope of the teacher education curriculum will be much more comprehensive than any one set of ideas and is still under development.

Schools:  University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

Cases:  University of Minnesota – Twin Cities: Political Litmus Test for Future Teachers