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Volume 19, Number 1
January/February 2003


From A Nation at Risk to a Profession at Risk?


Despite all of the educational reform activity over the past two decades, the teaching profession currently faces daunting challenges. These include the influx of underqualified teachers into classrooms, the potential dismantling of professional education for teachers, and the trend toward the regulation of teaching practice—regulations that may deprive teachers of the ability to make professional judgments and exercise their professional knowledge. So we face a paradox: in some areas teachers are better prepared than ever, while in schools that serve the greatest numbers of poor and minority children, more and more teachers are underqualified. Due in part to the reforms enacted in response to A Nation at Risk, it is harder than ever to get into a teacher education program. But in many communities, individuals can bypass these requirements altogether and enter the classroom with an emergency credential.

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.


Also by this Author

    For Further Information

    For Further Information

    Linda Darling-Hammond. Beyond the Commission Reports (Santa Monica, CA: Rand Corporation, 1984).

    Richard J. Murnane, Judith D. Singer, John D. Willett, James J. Kemple, and Randall J. Olsen. Who Will Teach? Policies That Matter (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1991).

    National Commission on Teaching and America's Future. What Matters Most: Teaching for America's Future (New York: Author, 1996), p. 15.

    Teaching and California's Future: The Status of the Teaching Profession 2001 (Santa Cruz, CA: Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning, 2002).

    U.S. Department of Education. Meeting the Highly Qualified Teacher Challenge: The Secretary's Annual Report on Teacher Quality (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2002), p. 40.

    Suzanne M. Wilson, Robert E. Floden, and Joan Ferrini-Mundy. Teacher Preparation Research: Current Knowledge, Gaps, and Recommendations (Seattle: Center for the Study of Teaching and Policy, University of Washington, 2001).

    Richard M. Ingersoll. "Teacher Turnover and Teacher Shortages: An Organizational Analysis." American Education Research Journal 38, no. 3 (2001), 501.

    "Scripted Learning: A Slap in the Face or Blessing from Above?" California Educator, April 2002.

    Hamilton Lankford, Susanna Loeb, and James Wyckoff.  "Teacher Sorting and the Plight of Urban Schools: A Descriptive Analysis," Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 24, no. 1 (2002), 37-62;

    Stephen W. Raudenbush, Randall P. Fotiu, and Yuk Fai Cheong. "Inequality of Access to Educational Resources: A National Report Card in 8th Grade Math." Educational Evaluation and Policy Analysis 20, no. 4 (1998), 253-267.

    Regents Task Force on Teaching. Teaching to Higher Standards: New York's Commitment (Albany: New York State Department of Education, 1998), p. 10.