Agencies | Governor
Virginia Regulatory Town Hall
Department of Education
State Board of Education
Regulations Governing the Review and Approval of Education Programs in Virginia [8 VAC 20 ‑ 542]
Action Comprehensive Revision of the Regulations Governing the Review and Approval of Education Programs in
Stage Proposed
Comment Period Ends 10/31/2015
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10/29/15  7:52 am
Commenter: Kurt Stemhagen

Why We Need to Keep "Foundations of Education" Instead of "The Teaching Profession"

As a former public middle school math teacher in Virginia and, as a current associate professor of education at VCU I urge the board to reconsider the change in language in the propsoed teacher liencensure regulations from “Foundations of Education” to “The Teaching Profession.”

Foundations of Education is a well-developed field of study. Its coursework provides a unique and critically important component of teacher education, bringing perspective and meaning to teaching and fostering consideration of the role of public schools in our democracy. Study in Foundations of Education plays a key role in the development of reflective, professional, wise, and ultimately effective teachers for the Commonwealth because it places day-to-day classroom practice within its wider contexts, providing time and space for consideration of such activities in light of the overall aims of education. In other words, Foundations of Education’s focus on the “whys” of education—from societal goals to cultural and social trends affecting all aspects of education—helps teachers to carry out the “hows” effectively.

Removing the wording “Foundations of Education” from the professional studies requirement in the regulations would have the effect of cutting off this professional studies area from its disciplinary mooring.  Professional studies requirements for licensure need to be linked to an academic field/area so that the coursework in teacher preparation is informed by research and discussion that comes from disciplinary communities. For example, Ethics and integrity are two areas included in the propsed category of “The Teaching Profession.” Ethics and integrity devoid of the focus on values and context that comes with study in the Foundations will likely lead to classes that fous on narrow compliance and a vision of a good teacher as one who merely does what she is told. It might seem counterintuitive, but replacing “Social Foundations” with the “Teaching Profesion” is a blow to the idea of teacher as professioanl, at least in any robust sense of the term “professional.”

In addition to being an educational researcher and a former teacher, I am also a parent of elementary school-aged children. When I think of the kinds of teachers I want for my children, I am certain that in addition to teachers with knoweldge and skills, they need reflective, passionate teachers who have thought long and hard about why they teach and how the work they do matters beyond the walls of the classroom, both for the children they teach and for wider society. Foundations of Education is a key component of the prepartion of these sorts of teachers.