Dole Urges Better Standards for Teachers
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 16, 1999; Page A6
Elizabeth Hanford Dole told a conference of educators here yesterday that the nation's colleges and universities must do a better job of educating the teachers of the future and that teacher training should be placed "at the center of our higher education system."
Dole, the wife of former Senate majority leader and 1996 Republican presidential nominee Robert J. Dole (R-Kan.), will be in Iowa Friday as part of her exploration of a presidential campaign in 2000. She made only a glancing reference to that yesterday, evoking the strongest applause given her speech when she mentioned a subject of keen interest to the higher education officials – the funding of federal research grants, many of which go to colleges and universities.
"I don't know where the future will take me," Dole said, "but I do know that if you are recruiting soldiers in the battle to strengthen federal investment in research, I am ready to enlist right now."
In her speech to the American Council on Education, an organization composed of the presidents and other senior officials of U.S. colleges and universities, the former president of the American Red Cross called for a national policy of "zero tolerance toward bad teaching" and said that it is "vital for our colleges and universities to toughen standards for teachers."
"I will be revealing nothing by saying that some of our schools of education have not demanded nearly enough of their students, nor have they been accorded the attention and support they would have in a properly constituted educational order," she said.
In calling for "rigorous training" of future teachers, Dole echoed one theme from President Clinton's State of the Union address in which he said "in too many schools teachers don't have college majors or even minors in the subjects they teach" and said that new teachers should be subject to "performance exams."
"We have seen too much evidence of intellectual nonperformance," Dole said. "The litany of data citing under-performance of some teachers is long and not pretty – teachers not trained in the fields they are teaching, foreign language teachers who are not conversant in the language, and special exemptions for prospective science teachers from the most rigorous science courses."
She also said that, as the world's richest nation, the United States "can afford safer, newer classrooms with smaller classes," adding that "we can afford, and we know how to create, classrooms that are the envy of the world."
But Dole's speech was not an attempt to set out a comprehensive education policy as she devoted much of it to her own interest and experience in education, from her days as a student teacher in a Boston suburb when she was a graduate student at Harvard University through her time as labor secretary in the Bush administration, when she said education became "a passion."
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