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Radical Eyes for Equity: Critically Reconsidering Teacher Education (and NCTQ’s Shoddy Reports): A Reader

In 2018, a simplistic but compelling story was established: Teachers do not know how to teach children to read (60+% are not proficient readers!) because teacher educators have failed to teach the “science of reading” (SOR) in teacher prep programs.

These false narratives about teacher ed, NAEP data, and reading have gained momentum and now drive reading policy and legislation in practically every state in the US.

There is an ironic truism—“a lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its shoes”—most often misattributed to Mark Twain that certainly describes the misguided SOR movement’s central claims wrapped up in the initial mantra that SOR is both simple and settled.

Here are two complicated counter-points that are supported by the full body of evidence:

  • Reading instruction can and should be significantly reformed (in the context of addressing wider systemic inequities), but the SOR version of causes and solutions are false.
  • Teacher education can and should be significantly reformed , but the SOR version of causes and solutions are false.

I have been a strong advocate for education reform, beginning with my entering the field in 1984, and subsequently a strong advocate for teacher education reform, starting with entering higher education and teacher education in 2002.

In “Of Rocks and Hard Places—The Challenge of Maxine Greene’s

Mystification in Teacher Education
,” I wrote about teacher education: “As teacher educators, we are trapped between the expectations of a traditional and mechanistic field and the contrasting expectations of best practice guided by critical pedagogy.”

Below, then, I offer a reader about critically reconsidering teacher education and why the use of NCTQ “reports” are misguided and fail the test of scientific evidence.

Teacher Education



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P.L. Thomas

P. L. Thomas, Professor of Education (Furman University, Greenville SC), taught high school English in rural South Carolina before moving to teacher education. He...