NYU Steinhardt News

Faculty Books: Preparing America's Teachers: A History

James Fraser, professor of educational history, Department of Humanities and Social Sciences in the Professions, offers an historical account of how American teachers have been trained in the United States.

Preparing America's Teachers, which covers the history of teacher education from the American Revolution to the present, highlights a constant dilemma facing the training of our educators: cries for reform.

“In virtually every generation from the early 1800s to the dawn of the 21st century, there have been many urgent voices calling for far reaching reform in the preparation of the nation's teachers and many reforms designed specifically to respond to the critiques raised,” Fraser writes.

Fraser was motivated to write the book, in part, to inform current debate and decisionmaking on American teacher education.

“Teacher educators and their critics talk of decline without remembering that it is only in the last half century that teachers were required to have a baccalaureate degree,” he notes. “They talk of the importance of testing teachers and changing the process of licensure without any sense of the history of teacher testing and licensing, which has gone on in some form in this country since at least the 1830s, not always with happy results.”