By Ben Velderman

WASHINGTON, D.C. – At long last, K-12 reformers are getting to the root of things.

what a good ideaA collection of state education leaders – known as the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) – says it’s time for states to turn a critical eye toward how their teachers are being trained in college, reports

On Monday, the CCSSO issued a 38-page report detailing ways teacher prep programs could be improved. The group’s recommendations include implementing “highly selective admissions and exit criteria that includes mastery of content”; issuing performance ratings for each teacher college; and closing teacher colleges that “continually receive the lowest rating.”

“You can no longer have a poorly delivered program that is delivering outcomes for students that are inferior,” retiring CCSSO Executive Director Gene Wilhoit said during a media briefing. “The worst thing you can do is ask a person to enter a profession, poorly prepare them and then blame them (for failure).”

“So far, 25 states have signed on to the reform action, led by the CCSSO Task Force on Educator Preparation and Entry into the Profession,” reports.

This isn’t the first time the idea of revamping teacher training programs has been suggested. The U.S. Department of Education is expected to issue a report in early 2013 that identifies which of the nation’s teacher prep programs are strong and which ones aren’t, according to the news site.

Even the American Federation of Teachers has gotten into the act with its suggestion that incoming teachers be required to pass an exam, similar to the bar exam fledgling lawyers must pass, before entering the classroom.

This scrutiny of the nation’s teacher prep programs is long overdue.

For decades, America’s teacher colleges have been drawing applicants from the bottom third of the college pool. And worse than who’s being allowed into the teacher prep programs are the people who lead them.

For example, unconvicted domestic terrorist Bill Ayers served for more than a decade as a “Distinguished Professor of Education” for the University of Illinois at Chicago, one of the most influential universities in the nation.

Ayers is a political radical who believes the purpose of education is to advance “social justice,” which is a fancy way of saying that teachers must indoctrinate their students into the Marxist political movement.

He recently told a gathering of New York City educators, “Our job is movement building.”

If Ayers’ far-left lunacy was limited to Chicago, it might not be quite so damaging. But in reality, Ayers is a well-respected figure in education circles and is an oft-published author whose work is used to train beginning teachers across this land.

It can be no coincidence that as America’s young educators have focused on promoting “social justice” that student learning has flat-lined or regressed.

It’s high time our education leaders throw a spotlight on the nonsense that’s passing as teacher training. The CCSSO report is an encouraging development, but reformers should temper their enthusiasm. Some of the organizations supporting the CCSSO also happen to be some of the biggest supporters of bringing left-wing hooey into the classroom, including the National Education Association and the aforementioned AFT.

Still, it’s encouraging to know that K-12 reform is finally aimed at the root of the problem.

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