Tom Allon may be a long shot in his quest to be the next mayor, but he has some fresh ideas about how to fix the city's schools. The publisher of Manhattan Media kicked off his campaign Wednesday with a speech at The New School that suggests a simple way to improve public schools: Help teachers perfect their craft.
He proposes that teachers get training that's more like what medical students get. Instead of working as a student teacher for just three or four months--as is now the case--teachers-in-training should have three years of "clinical practice...three years of student teaching with skilled mentor teachers in the classroom as their guides," he said, quoting from a 2010 report commissioned by the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education.
"Teachers need ongoing, constant professional training to help them overcome what they never received in a School of Education," said Alllon, who is both a public school parent and a former teacher. He points to the New American Academy, a Broookln school where teachers work in teams of four, headed by a master teacher. The teams meet for 90 minutes at the beginning of each day to plan lessons and learn from one another (while the kids are eating breakfast or exercising in the gym). The school is led not by a principal or a CEO, but by a headmaster, the head of the master teachers.
The mayoral race is bound to be filled with debates over charter schools, school closings, teacher evaluations, and new and better ways to test our children. But it's nice that the first salvo is a call for something we can all agree on: better teachers make better schools.