Dr. Sid T. Womack's ATU Home Page______________
Office: Crabaugh 211
Summer 1 2015 office hours:
9 - 11 Mondays through Friday. I am typically in the office much more than these official office hours. Most days, drop-in visits are acceptable.
Photos above are of presentations at several state, regional, and international-level conventions.
I had an enjoyable career in education for 43 years. In 34 years of teacher education, I helped to prepare enough teachers to minister to over one million children, given very conservative multipliers. I encouraged and gave technical assistance to more than a dozen people who are walking around today with their Ed. D.s or Ph.D.s. Today I am giving of myself mainly through the Dover church of Christ. I enjoy hobbies such as gardening, archery, and hunting.
My career in education began in 1972 as a band director in a small east Texas town. It ended as a professor of secondary education at Arkansas Tech University after 29 there, two years at Southeastern Oklahoma State University in Durant, and 3 years as a graduate assistant/visiting lecturer at Texas A&M University. I witnessed three distinct eras of teacher education while I was within the profession.
The "era of the impressive professor" had already been under way for awhile by the time I became a teacher, and ended distinctly on Devember 31, 1989. It was during the 1972-86 time that I was completing my formal preparation for a position in higher education. Prospective faculty were encouraged to gain a terminal degree and to obtain a minimum of three years of successful classroom teaching. For profs who hung in there a little longer and got five or six years of public school experience, they seemed to have a qualitative advantage in credibility over those who had stayed for three years and then quickly left. My original intent had been for four years of public school teaching, and that was what I had when I began my residency for my Ph. D. at Texas A&M University. Fate and a fickle job market intervened, and I ended up with eight years of public school experience plus another year of a special experience with the Texas A&M University Extension Service before I finally landed a permanent university position at Arkansas Tech University in August 1986. When I look back at how my public school experiences helped to prepare me for college teaching, I would say that the most benefit was realized within the first six years.
The National Council for Accreditation of Teacher Education became a strong force by 1990. On January 1, 1990, the content of teacher and administrator education programs no longer came from the studies and experiences of university teacher education faculty. Everything taught in education classes had to come from the professional literature--no "war stories." This gave additional clout to reviewers of professional journals such as the Journal of Reading, Teaching Exceptional Children, the Phi Delta Kappan, and Educational Leadership. It also removed a lot of idiosyncratic content from education courses--advice from teachers and administrators about practices that may have worked for them but would not be likely to work for others. Courses had to include a "knowledge base" in every syllabus, justifying everything that was to be taught. I frankly thought this was a very salutory move.
The year 2000 brought us from a "knowledge base" model of teacher education to a performance based one. The public was in a surly mood about the performance of its schools. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2002 was a written reflection of that discontent. It was no longer sufficient to have academically qualified, experienced faculty--or to have courses with content deeply grounded in the refereed professional literature. Now teacher education units had to show that their students were mastering that content. In 2000, there were 1200 teacher education units, mostly in universities, and the market had become crowded. By the time I retired in June 2015, there were about 760 teacher education units remaining within the United States. Standards in teacher education had been raised, and about one-third of teacher education units were not able to meet those new standards. Teachers exiting accredited programs today are so much more prepared than I was in the fall of '72. I am proud of them.
How does the supply-and-demand situation look to this retiree in 2016? Like we may have priced ourselves out of the market somewhat. To obtain warm bodies in classrooms, there now exist traditional teacher preparation programs, non-traditional programs, and alternative programs--and we still can't get enough qualified teachers. No state is now continuing the Pathwise entry teacher program, with Arkansas being one of the last to give it up (too expensive and time consuming). The correct level of academic rigor seems to be a bit behind us. We shouldn't capitulate all of the gains that the profession has made in the quality of teachers and administrators, but there is evidence that we are beyond a level that we can sustain. It may be time to go back and look at the data again.
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