Yale mistakenly sees teacher preparation as too pre-professional for its liberal arts bent, said Jack Gillette, the outgoing director of Teacher Preparation and Education Studies, during a Monday panel on education at Yale.

Gillette’s was one of many points raised at the discussion “The Past, Present and Future of Education Studies at Yale” sponsored by campus group Students for Education Reform in WLH208 Monday.

SFER organized the event at the onset of May, to mark the month Yale is set to cut both its Teacher Preparation program for undergraduates and Urban Education Studies program for graduate students.

Along with Gillette, Political Science lecturer Dr. John Bryan Starr, Executive Director of Teach For America in Connecticut Edna Novak and current TFA corps member Ofelia Canals ’09 spoke on the panel.

Comments both centered on Yale and addressed education reform across the nation. Gillette said it is time to rethink the “unchallenged assumptions” that plague the education system. He included in this a perception that teacher preparation was not linked to the liberal arts mission.

“Yale is pre-professional,” said Gillette.

Teach For America was also a point of contention. Novak said it helped make “future leaders of our nation” aware of what actually goes on in classrooms.

But a New Haven high school teacher in the audience asked the panel about the feasibility of the TFA’s practices, prompting further explanation from Novak. She recognized that teachers become most effective once they have between five and seven years of experience, but said that even potentially increasing the TFA term to three years was projected to cut the applicant pool in half. The groups that would be less likely to enroll are significant, she said: those involved in math and science, and ethnic minorities.

Lawrence Lim ’13, President of the SFER, said he was concerned about a lack of opportunities to learn about education, as did many students who attended.

“Yale has dropped the ball on education [training] – it’s embarrassing,” said Claire Kane ’14.

Juniors in the Teacher Preparation Program can complete their certification next year.