When california Resident Joshua Arnold received approval from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Education, his decision to attend seemed simple — the school is first-rate, and Harvard offered him a full scholarship. Harvard’s mix of innovative theory and practical experience was terrific, but Arnold is not sure how well he prepared him for the challenges he faced as a principal in South Central Los Angeles, the knowledge he gained He may have gone to Ed School close to home. “My program never spoke of educating Latino students in ways that I needed or wanted,” says Arnold. “Educating Latino students is not a concern in Boston as it is in Los Angeles. It is a really important issue in LA.”
For students pursuing a bachelor’s degree in education, deciding whether to stay close to home or head cross-country to study with leading scholars in the field can be complicated. Both alumni and school officials agree that no school is right for everyone. Some questions to ask: How much does school reputation matter to you? Can you afford it (school systems are not known for their generosity, so you can talk of long-term debt)? Do you like the school curriculum? And will it teach you what you want to know based on where you want to work?
To take Harvard as an example, says Catherine Mereseth, a senior lecturer at the Graduate School of Education, the school’s academic excellence, small size (40 to 60 students), and access to financial aid make it a competitive for everyone. Makes choices. More than half of Harvard students go on to teach outside of Massachusetts, Mereseth says — proof of its appeal to applicants nationwide. Many public university teacher-education programs are very large (up to 1,000 students), and their sheer size makes it difficult for them to be agile and change their curriculum based on best practices, she says.
In contrast to the grades Mereseth described as subpar, Appalachian State University’s Reich College of Education emulated the benefits of participating in a high-quality program run out of a public institution. Reich’s dean, Charles Duke, says Appalachian has the ability to provide excellent but affordable teacher education at convenient locations, leading many North Carolina teachers of the future to choose Appalachian.
Mountaineer Pride. “A degree from Harvard or Stanford is certainly prestigious,” says Duke, but having one will not help you become a better teacher. Reach College attracts faculties around the country who bring with them the latest, most inventive teaching methods in the classroom. A plus: The faculty is also responsible for instructing students about the challenges they may face in different areas of the state – says Arnold was missing from his otherwise positive experience at Harvard.
Wonder if this is a public vs private issue? think again. Appalachian shares some qualities with the prestigious Stanford University, a top private school. As an Appalachian, where nearly all undergraduate education students go to teach in North Carolina, about 80 percent of Stanford’s prestigious Stanford teacher education program graduates go on to teach in California, says program director Rachel Lotan. STEP’s broad appeal to future California teachers and its deep connections to schools in Northern California give it a state-school feel in some respects.
This said, the students never remind me of STEP’s great reputation. STEP graduate Debra Allison smiled when she found out that President Barack Obama had considered appointing Linda Darling-Hammond as his Secretary of Education (former Chicago schools chief Arne Duncan was his last option), not only because That Darling-Hammond is one of the nation’s leading theorists on education policy, but because he is one of Allison’s former STEP professors. Allison currently teaches Spanish at a high school less than 5 miles from Stanford’s campus, and says 77 percent of her peers are also standard graduates. Although Alison had initial reservations about attending Stanford because of the expense (she could attend several California state colleges at a much lower cost), she chose Stanford after realizing that STEP had made a career in her career. Represented the investment.
“I knew that teaching would soon become my profession, my career, and I wanted the best,” Allison said. “I have friends who attended state schools, some of whom have become really great teachers and others who are just fine, but I never doubted that I would get enough training at Stanford.”