Symington proposal raises concerns of educators

By Keith Allen

Arizona Daily Wildcat

Gov. Fife Symington's education reform proposal has raised questions about the state's quality of education and the universities' need for a college of education.

The proposal introduces ideas for a broad restructuring of schools. Some of the items in the proposal are the abolition of the Arizona Department of Education, stripping the power from local school boards and the elimination of certification of teachers and administrators.

"It shows that they don't care about the issues of quality control," said Gary Griffin, head of teaching and teacher education in the UA's College of Education. He said that he does not want to speculate about this proposal making it through because he does not feel the citizens will put up with it.

"If this actually came to happen, the consequences would be devastating to the quality of public education," said Janice Streitmatter, associate dean of the UA College of Education.

The College of Education would not be affected seriously, Griffin said, because there will always be a need for quality educators.

"Colleges of education are the only places where they (students) learn to become teachers," Streitmatter said. "If the governor's proposition becomes real, school administrators would be more comfortable hiring people from the colleges."

"I believe teaching education is very important," said College of Education Professor Gary Fenstermacher. "If it is no longer a requirement, it has potential for harm."

Streitmatter said if all the "standards are withdrawn," there would be a threat to "the quality and safety in schools." She said she does not believe that the proposal will be implemented.

"Standards are minimal the way they are," Streitmatter said.

Fenstermacher said that "it is important to put ideas out and to work them through." He said that he likes the idea of having "bold thinking" in education, but that in the last few years he hasn't seen the bold thinkers look at who benefits and who loses.

Griffin said that approximately 300 students graduate from the College of Education every year, with about 97 percent finding jobs within a year of graduation. He said the UA has a very strong program.

The College of Education is a state-approved program for "recommending" that students be certified to teach, Griffin said.

"Teachers should have to be certified," said Denise Harlos, a language, reading and culture graduate student who also works in the

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