- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 10, 2003

A Washington lobbyist has been using a stolen field-test to rally teaching colleges against a Bush administration initiative to provide alternate certification for teachers, according to college sources and documents obtained by The Washington Times.

David G. Imig, president and chief executive of the American Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (AACTE) has called on his state directors and officials at 75 member colleges and universities to contact state education policy-makers and members of Congress to thwart the new American Board for Certification of Teacher Excellence, according to association documents and college sources.

The American Board, has a two-year $5 million grant from the Department of Education to certify business professionals and subject-matter experts without teaching degrees as classroom teachers.

“It seems imperative that each institution and each state AACTE affiliate immediately … convey their strong reservations about any proposal to bypass teacher education,” Mr. Imig wrote in a January memo to his group’s directors around the country.

George K. Cunningham, an education professor at the University of Louisville in Kentucky, says officials at his university are helping Mr. Imig. The struggle is ideological as much as a turf battle between rival teacher-certification approaches, he said..

“Faculties at colleges of education are supposed to ensure that students have proper dispositions, proper attitudes about instructional methods. They must believe it’s the best way to teach,” said Mr. Cunningham, who participated Monday in an American Enterprise Institute forum with Lynne Cheney, wife of Vice President Dick Cheney, and representatives of the association and the American Board.

“Teachers are supposed to be self-aware if they become inappropriately dispositional. For example, if they begin to believe that the whole-language approach is not the best way to teach reading, they’re supposed to know that it is wrong to think that way,” he said.

“It’s like the re-education camps in Vietnam,” he said of the approach of most teaching colleges. “You get everyone to think the same way.”

Mr. Imig’s use of the stolen American Board field-test, developed by ACT Inc. of Iowa City, forced the American Board to scuttle the test and sever its relationship with the ACT, which lost $1.2 million because the test was compromised.

Ken Gullette, media director for the ACT, told The Times that an internal investigation did not identify how the test was stolen. However, The Washington Post reported yesterday that Mr. Imig “said he received the test questions from someone working on the test development project and did no harm because he shared them only with other professionals who understand the material’s sensitivity.”

Mr. Gullette said the matter is closed at the ACT and that no legal action is being pursued by the testing company against Mr. Imig and the association.

Mr. Imig has not responded to numerous requests for interviews during the past several days. He canceled his scheduled participation in the AEI forum Monday, citing a “family emergency,” organizers said.

Lisa Graham Keegan, president of the Education Leaders Council, which formed the American Board with the National Council for Teacher Quality, said those groups also are not pursuing legal action.

Education Department spokeswoman Susan Aspey said the government is concerned about the integrity of the test but that the issue is “between the two organizations,” as the department was assured by the American Board that “there is no risk with regard to federal dollars.”

The American Board test is opposed by teaching-college officials who favor “progressive” techniques rather than traditional teaching methods, Mr. Cunningham said.

But traditional methods work best with children from disadvantaged backgrounds, Mrs. Keegan said, which is why an alternative teacher-certification process is needed.

“What a perfect expression of the difference in philosophy,” Mrs. Keegan said. “The American Board is based on the premise … that, in fact, traditionalist explicit instruction is indeed what has been proven to work with all children, particularly with children who do not come from a structured academic background and are not what you would call prepared to learn.”

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