Education studies appoints new teacher

Elizabeth Carroll’s appointment to teach Educational Studies classes is temporary as the search for a director continues.
Elizabeth Carroll’s appointment to teach Educational Studies classes is temporary as the search for a director continues. Photo by Elizabeth Carroll.

In the midst of uncertainty about the future of Yale’s Education Studies program, Yale College Dean Mary Miller has appointed Elizabeth Carroll to teach the program’s core course offerings next semester.

Carroll, currently a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard’s Graduate School of Education, will take on the education studies classes formerly taught by the program’s current director, Linda Cole-Taylor, who resigned earlier this year. Miller said administrators plan to maintain the program, and next semester, the University will continue to offer the same courses under the Education Studies umbrella — EDST 190 and its associated half-credit observation course EDST 192. But Carroll will not serve as the program’s director and is only slated to teach next semester’s classes while the faculty advisory Committee on Education Studies searches for a new director.

“I’m very sympathetic with students’ desires that Yale offer ways to engage with educational issues,” Carroll said. “I think it’s very exciting how Yale is in process of reinvigorating its approach, and I am hopeful that it will really be a creative and ultimately fruitful process.”

Before attending Harvard, Carroll spent five years working as a high school teacher in Boston and the Bronx, and she also spent time as a teaching fellow at Harvard. Carroll moved to New Haven this summer and began independently researching the New Haven public school system. As part of this research, Carroll said, she attended the city’s Board of Education meetings and also spoke with several Yale faculty members who told her about the job opening.

Carroll said EDST 190’s and 192’s curriculum — which includes observing local New Haven schools — will remain the same as they were under Cole-Taylor, but she added that she hopes to incorporate some of her own research and background. She said she is eager to see how the University will decide to approach the program in the coming year.

“I think that Yale is really well-positioned to actually be a leader in innovating a new approach to how a school like this can engage students in these conversations and issues and prepare them to be leaders in the education sector,” Carroll said.

In 2010, administrators canceled the Teacher Preparation track — a program that allowed students to become certified teachers — citing financial concerns and dwindling student interest in accreditation. Following the cancellation, then-Director of Education Studies Jack Gillette resigned and Cole-Taylor took Gillette’s place as director.

Joseph Gordon, dean of undergraduate education, said the alterations to the Educational Studies program reflect a changing landscape of education study at universities rather than a phasing out of the program. He said the increasing popularity of programs such as Teach for America means many students do not need to get certification while they are undergraduates, adding that the faculty advisory committee is looking into the best way to present an educational studies program without certification.

Gordon said he is not sure of the program’s future structure, but he thinks the program could be organized around a similar “initiative” model as Yale’s global health and journalism programs — bringing together students from different majors to focus their skills and knowledge on the study of education. Many programs that follow this model also include a summer commitment, he said, which could be fulfilled through summer teaching jobs, work in educational policy or internships with school boards. But this decision will be made by the faculty Committee on Education Studies next semester, he added.

“I think students are obviously concerned about whether or not the program will continue,” Gordon said. “We are trying to reassure them that it will — not in the way that it was five years ago and maybe not in the way it is today, but in a way that is suitable for educational studies at Yale.”

Grace Lindsey ’15, who has taken education studies classes and shadowed New Haven school teachers, said she is glad that Yale will maintain the core education studies courses, which are traditionally oversubscribed, but she is concerned that Carroll does not have the same long-term relationships with local schools and teachers as Cole-Taylor.

“Part of the reason [Cole Taylor’s course] worked so well was that professor Cole-Taylor has a lot of contacts with New Haven schoolteachers,” Lindsey said. “So much of educational studies at Yale lies in the way it interacts with the community, and it is important that there is a focus in not losing that with someone that is new to New Haven.”

Lindsey said despite Carroll’s appointment, she thinks the future of the program will remain uncertain until the faculty advisory committee appoints a new director and clearly indicates how the program will be organized. She added that she hopes the committee solicits student input while making decisions.

Yale does not have its own School of Education, unlike Harvard, Columbia and Stanford.

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