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September 14, 2009 | by  | in News |
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Tolley converted during meeting in America Minister considers career in preaching

Minister of Education Anne Tolley returned from a nine-day jaunt to the US of A early last week, preaching the gospel words of controversial US schools leader Michelle Rhee.

The Dominion Post reported that Tolley is considering an idea purported by Rhee which would see prospective teachers with a master’s degree “fast-tracked” into the classroom, bypassing specialist teaching training.

The idea was dicussed in a high-level meeting between Tolley and Washington DC schools chancellor Rhee.

Rhee’s proposals, which include giving top teachers huge payrises, and introducing a voucher system to enable students from low-income families to attend private schools, have been the subject of much controversy in the US.

Tolley told the Dominion Post that the idea was not discussed in great detail, she had asked Rhee to provide her with more information about it.

“Michelle Rhee is going to dig out some more information for us because we did not have time to explore it in any great detail.”

Tolley said the plan would involve propsective teachers training on the job, and would go some way to alleviating the current problem of an ageing workforce in the teaching professional.

“They would be trained on the job with a mixture of practical and theory, but actually working in schools,” she told the Dominion Post.

“We have an ageing teaching workforce and need to think about how we replenish it. It is one of the issues we are looking to address.”

Attracting top graduates into the teaching profession is one of the fundamental goals of the plan.

“We know that good, high-quality teaching makes the greatest different in student learning. Being able to attract into teaching and retain really top-quality students makes a hang of a difference,” Tolley explained.

Principal’s Federation president Ernie Buutveld told the Dominion Post he had some reservations about the idea, given the potential strain it could place on schools’ resources.

“I appreciate we want to improve the numbers of teachers, but a master’s degree or having academics in the classroom is not the total answer,” he said.

“Teaching is a craft and if we make it too academic then I think we’re putting the subject ahead of the pedagogy of teaching.”

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