Education Faculty Host Visit By State Schools Superintendent

They’re at the center of an ambitious plan to make the state of Ohio the most improved educational system in the nation by the year 2005. The state standards for teachers, and what they mean for the college programs that prepare future teachers, was the subject of a regional conference hosted by the University of Cincinnati College of Education. The May 7 Curriculum Standards Meeting at the Kingsgate Conference Center featured guest speaker Susan Tave Zelman, Ohio Superintendent of Public Instruction.

“For me, education has always been the great equalizer,” said Zelman. “Education was America’s greatest gift to the free world.

“My grandparents were immigrants who moved to New York. The opportunities for my parents were possible because of a free public education and support at that time for a free public higher education.”

Zelman says the standards-based educational system blends two historically competing traditions in education and moves them forward — the essentialist movement, teaching the basics, with the progressive movement. “It’s explaining what we want our students to know and to be able to know as well as the more progressive tradition, allowing for a constructivist approach to teaching academic standards.”

For teachers, Zelman says the goal of the standards is to make teaching a more valued and honored profession. “If we ask, what do we want our students to know and to be able to know, we must ask what we want our teachers to know. So, teaching standards are aligned with the academic content standards.”

The result, says Zelman, is an equal education for every child. “In Meigs County, algebra is taught differently than it’s taught in Wyoming or Beachwood. Yet we think of education as being the great equalizer. One of the things we want our teachers to do is to embrace these content standards, to understand them and to act on them”

Zelman says what’s key in the future is to make sure teacher colleges, pre-service teachers and teachers in K-12 schools are all on the same page, building bridges between theory and practice.

Out of Ohio’s 613 school districts, only 30 were rated as excellent or effective in the year 2000. By 2003, the number had jumped to 300. Ohio was one of only five states to win early federal approval of its accountability plan that stemmed from the U.S. Department of Education’s No Child Left Behind Act.

Representatives from the UC College of Education, McMicken College of Arts and Sciences, Raymond Walters College, Shawnee State University, Wright State University, Miami University, Wilmington College, Bowling Green State University, Cincinnati State, Cincinnati Public Schools and the Ohio Federation of Teachers attended the Kingsgate meeting.

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