Four Universities Asked to Submit Proposals for Reforming Teacher Education in Carnegie Corporation of New York's Initiative, Teachers for a New Era

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Carnegie Corporation of New York announced today that four higher education institutions have been asked to submit proposals for participating in a landmark initiative designed to strengthen K-12 teaching by developing state-of-the-art programs at schools of education. The four universities participating in this early phase of the multi-year initiative, called Teachers for a New Era, are Bank Street College of Education in New York City; California State University, Northridge; Michigan State University and the University of Virginia.

“Teaching reform is central to school reform, and these institutions are pioneers in the movement,” says Vartan Gregorian, president of Carnegie Corporation. “If we really want to improve student achievement, we have no choice but to improve teaching. As the 19th century French philosopher, Victor Cousin, succinctly put it, ‘As is the teacher, so is the school.’”

The Corporation, under Gregorian’s leadership, has made higher education issues, particularly reform of teachers’ education, one of its highest priorities. This reform initiative has established three guiding principles as critical in the redesign of schools that prepare teachers:

  1. Leadership on the part of the presidents of supported institutions that elevates the role and importance of schools of education within the university community and a design that builds on research evidence. 
  2. Top-level collaboration between university faculty in the arts and sciences with the school of education faculty to ensure that prospective teachers are well grounded in specific disciplines and provided a liberal arts education.
  3. Establishing teaching as a clinical profession, with students mentored by master teachers in a formal two-year residency as they make a transition from college to classroom.

Research findings about teacher education programs and students’ post-graduation abilities will be critical elements in assessing these principles. The four institutions asked to participate in Teachers for a New Era have already embraced these ideas as critical for what it takes to produce excellent teachers for tomorrow’s children. 

“Research in recent years has pointed to the pivotal role a teacher plays in the education of young people,” says Neil Grabois, Vice President and Director for Strategic Planning and Program Coordination. “Clearly, it is imperative that this country improve the way we prepare teachers. There is evidence that the ideas in Teachers for a New Era can make a difference.” 

The success of the institutions chosen to be part of the initiative, their graduates and the research produced during the next five years are expected to challenge and inspire other institutions to follow these ideas. “At the conclusion of this investment,” Daniel Fallon, chair of the Corporation’s education division predicts, “the participating universities will be seen as having established the standards for best practice in educating professional teachers.”

The initiative, which will ultimately include at least eight higher education institutions by 2004, involves a foundation investment of up to $5 million that each university will match over a five-year period. Additional foundation grants will cover evaluations and up to $750,000 in grants that each university will share with its local partners, including school districts and other teacher education programs. In all, Carnegie Corporation has committed more than $30 million for the initiative at a total of six institutions; in addition to making two awards this year, in each of the next two years the Corporation will ask two additional universities to submit proposals. Joining the Corporation’s initiative in today’s round of grants are the Ford Foundation and The Annenberg Foundation, which each committed $5 million. The Rockefeller Foundation will be covering the costs of a major ongoing external evaluation of the initiative. The number of participating universities could increase if other foundations join the initiative in future years.

Carnegie Corporation of New York was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote "the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding." As a grantmaking foundation, the Corporation seeks to carry out Carnegie's vision of philanthropy, which he said should aim "to do real and permanent good in the world." The Corporation's capital fund, originally donated at a value of about $135 million, had a market value of $1.7 billion on September 30, 2001. The Corporation awards grants totaling approximately $75 million a year in the areas of education, international peace and security, international development and strengthening U.S. democracy.