Page 70 - American_Higher_Education_V4

Basic HTML Version

70
Levine hit the ground running.
The teaching fellowships he had
inmind would be competitive,
limited to outstanding students
who had already earned their
undergraduate degrees, typically
not including education courses.
Successful candidates would receive
$30,000 stipends for a full-time year
at a university, where they would
divide their time between study
toward their master’s degrees and
equally demanding “clinical” work
in schools, where they would be
accepted andmentoredmore like
medical interns than old-school
student teachers. In exchange, the
fellows would commit to then
teach three years in “high-needs”
middle or high schools. And their
universities would continue to
mentor themon their jobs.
As Levine concedes, none of
these ideas originated with himor
the foundation. If not in widespread
use, all had been strongly endorsed by research, and they
added up to “a collection of best practices,” he said. “We just
put them together in ways you don’t usually see them.”
Taking early shape along the lines Levine envisioned was
the foundation’s Leonore Annenberg Fellowship, funded by
the Annenberg and Carnegie foundations, with places for 25
fellows each at Stanford University and at the universities of
Virginia, Washington and Pennsylvania.
Levine was pleased—up to a point. “It was a good strong
program, but it didn’t have enough leverage,” he said. In other
words, he didn’t think it would go far enough fast enough to
accomplish his far-reaching goals. He foresaw greater, quicker,
more lasting impact if the states could
be engaged as fellowship partners and
champions.
States could offer the fellowships high
visibility. States could build supportive
coalitions of leaders to sustain them.
Plus, as Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels
pointed out, states are uniquely positioned
to take down barriers to teaching, making
way for non-traditional candidates.
When Levine came calling about
Indiana’s possible interest inWoodrow
Wilson teaching fellowships, Daniels was
“thrilled” by what he saw as an opportunity
“for real improvement in our time,” especially in the subjects
where Indiana students were coming up the shortest on state
tests—science andmath. So he suggested that the fellowships
be restricted to those fields.
Having won Daniels to his idea, Levine followed up
by getting buy-ins from the state’s movers and shakers in
education, business, government, labor and philanthropy.
TheWoodrowWilson Indiana Teaching Fellowship in
math and science (funded by a $10 million grant from the
Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment) and the Annenberg
fellowship were announced together, in December 2007.
Consistent with Levine’s state theory, the bigger headline-
maker by far was the Indiana version, with openings for 20
fellows each annually at the University of Indianapolis, Purdue
University, Ball State University and Indiana University-
Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI), starting with the
2009-10 school year.
Constance Bond, a foundation vice president, said that the
four universities were chosen because all were already offering
graduate degrees in teacher education, and all were open to
change.
The foundation insisted that each university come up with
an entirely new curriculum for its fellows, developed by a
committee made up of faculty frommath, science or related
disciplines, as well as from education. The result had to be
an integratedmix of the academic and the clinical, graduate
school and classroom, theory and practice. Otherwise, the
universities were free to design their programs. “We don’t have
a ‘WoodrowWilsonmodel,’” said Bond. “We don’t go in and
give them a program that they must implement.”
The work proved burdensome enough that Ball State
decided early on to take an extra year to prepare. The three
other universities proceeded.
The University of Indianapolis designed a master of arts in
teaching degree consisting entirely of new courses solely for its
fellows.
IUPUI created a hybrid of new courses and borrowings
from its Transition to Teaching program for non-education
graduates, and then combined them into three different tracks,
each leading to a different education-relatedmaster’s degree.
Purdue tailored its curriculum to its School of Education’s
emerging, special mission to prepare teachers for poor
rural schools, coming up with a master of science degree in
educationmade up of existing courses, and new fellows-only
ones in rural education.
Given the long distances between the campus and its focus
schools, Purdue’s fellows began by spending one day a week
in classrooms, working up to full days in their last ten weeks.
Their population-center location allowed IUPUI and the
University of Indianapolis more flexibility in scheduling their
fellows’ clinical work.
The foundation took sole responsibility for recruiting
and selecting the fellows, and it wasted no time in doing so,
inviting applications in July 2008. To amass the largest possible
candidate pool, it sent personal invitations to qualified college
seniors, advertised on radio and in newspapers andmagazines,
and notified college alumni offices, state unemployment offices
and downsizing employers.
One of those ads, and a newspaper column about the
fellowship, grabbed the attention of Laura Cummings, who
had “been teaching one thing or another”—including college
biology and pre-school music—and loving it for 20 years since
earning her master’s in biochemistry. “The fellowship came at
just the right time,” she said, because her four children were
newly in full-time school. And she was persuaded by “the fact
that the foundation was adding some prestige to teaching.”
Hers was among 318 applications—each consisting of a
“We don’t have a ‘Woodrow Wilson model,’”
says Constance Bond, a foundation vice
president. “We don’t go in and give them a
program that they must implement.”
Under the guidance
of university faculty
and carefully selected
in-school mentors, the
fellows assumed more
and more classroom
responsibilities.
Joe Guerriero, Black Star, for CrossTalk