Beit Berl President Slams 'Harmful' Teacher-training Recruitment Plan

Accelerated programs to train new teachers could strike a serious blow to the teaching profession, Beit Berl Academic College president Tamar Ariav said yesterday.

Several hundred people are enrolled in a six-month training program aimed at recruiting high-tech workers and other professionals to teach English, math and science. The Education Ministry, which has been pushing the program over the past few months, is also considering other novel ways of attracting high-quality teachers, in an effort to stem a shortage of teachers in elementary and high schools.

But such an approach is mistaken, said Ariav, a leading researchers in the field of teacher training.

"Every profession has a required training process, but the alternative programs undermine this professional process," she said at a teacher training conference yesterday at the Mofet Institute in Tel Aviv. "In the long run, the blurring between different types of training is likely to damage the public image of the profession, thereby further increasing the expected teacher shortage."

The accelerated programs are likely to cause "fundamental harm to the status of the teaching profession," she said. "The chase after the alternative program solution in Israel is not based on any research."

Education Ministry officials have previously warned against an over-reliance on such programs, which include a plan to get Israelis with graduate degrees to teach in the public schools.

"The alternative tracks generate headlines in the media, but damage the teacher training colleges, which still supply most of the teachers," a ministry official said. "The problem is that today no one has the patience for the traditional training."

The Education Ministry said it was doing all it could to recruit "high-quality personnel, while meeting all the necessary conditions." It said the accelerated programs were not intended to detract from the traditional teacher training programs and would ultimately increase the standing of the profession.

The school system will be short of an estimated 11,000 teachers by 2013, according to the Central Bureau of Statistics. The problem is worldwide, with a recent study finding that American public schools will need an additional 1 million teachers by 2015 - about a third of the current teacher total.