(Reprinted with permission from the Harvard Educational Review, written by Jennifer Garvey Berger.)
After nearly fifty years, the ideas of John Dewey, who advocated the integration of learning and research in the education of teachers, are once again in vogue. This time they may well speak also to the condition of professionals prepared for work in local congregations.
Teacher education and professional development are complex and divisive topics in the current conversation about improving the quality of education in schools. Professional development schools (PDSs) are one way of dealing with both issues simultaneously, but the PDS model itself is still emerging. As a result, the literature thus far has been sketchy, occasionally reading more like propaganda than research. In Making Professional Development Schools Work: Politics, Practice, and Policy, editors Marsha Levine and Roberta Trachtman expand the discourse about PDSs to include practical articles about the complex and difficult work of university- school partnerships.
The book’s three sections reflect the editors’ interest in a balanced examination of the many forms the PDS takes in practice and of the seemingly endless complexities involved in creating and sustaining these partnerships between public schools and universities. Part One highlights the deep changes in organizational and power structures necessary for PDSs to be successful and offers some analysis of the multiple benefits of these partnerships. Chapters on teacher leadership, preservice teacher education, and teacher professional development, among others, each present a different vision of new roles for educators and students. In addition, this section also raises important questions about the implementation of the various PDSs.
Part Two gives nuts-and-bolts advice about such topics as funding and governance issues, and raises the question of standards for the emerging PDSs. These chapters are useful for anyone who is thinking about the details of creating a professional development school.
Part Three is a collection of three case studies that clearly show the wide range of possibilities within the PDS model and put human faces on the challenges and benefits of school-university partnerships.
Making Professional Development Schools Work gives clear and thoughtful examples and analysis from people who have been immersed in these schools and know them well. Anyone thinking about undertaking the complex and difficult work of a PDS could benefit greatly from reading this book.