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Opening Arguments


Polling has become such a commonplace and significant part of what passes for news coverage these days that I think journalists have an obligation to note the source of the polld the ycite, since advocates for one position or another have a natural inclination to find evidence for what they already believe. That's a practice this Indianapolis Star editorial did not observe (and, yes, I acknowledge it's a failing I've been guilty of a time or two):

Unfortunately, a new national study indicates that far too many new teachers are not well-equipped to lead classrooms. The National Council on Teacher Quality, which analyzed data from more than 1,100 teacher training programs in preparing its report, described education schools as a whole as an “industry of mediocrity.” “The vast majority of teacher preparation programs do not give aspiring teachers adequate return on their investment of time and tuition dollars,” the report concluded. Academic standards for prospective teachers tend not to be high enough and student teaching assignments are not sufficiently challenging, the report found.

The editorial does say that deans of education schools in indiana and elsewhere "fired back at the study" as "flawed and irresponsible," but it doesn't say why the educators find the study lacking: The National Council on Teacher Quality has been a longtime critic of existing teacher education programs, so its hardly surprising that it finds that system "mediocre at best."

The Star's conclusion -- that educators shouldn't be so defensive and instead should work on improvements because this report merely echoes what "prior research" had already shown -- is quite defensible. A record of similar findings does mitigate the possible flaws in one study. But the possible bias of the researchers should still have been included so that readers have all the information they need to reach an informed conclusion.