Ongoing Series of Interviews with Deans of Education
David Hodges: Hunter College
I were a teacher in those schools and I were presiding over the
lives of children, I would try to teach them that those streets,
those neighborhoods and those dangers by which they are surrounded
are criminal and if they are going to be adults who function well
in society, they should never make their peace with those conditions.
Dean David Hodges quoted these lines from author James Baldwins
speech to the teachers of the elementary school in Harlem that
Baldwin attended as a child. Dean Hodges main goal for teacher
education students at Hunter College; to be well-prepared to teach
in inner city schools.
are not preparing teachers for teaching in areas of comfort and
convenience, but for teaching in areas of challenge and controversy,
stressed the Dean, as he paraphrased the famous lines of Martin
Luther King, Jr.
a dean at Hunter Colleges School of Education since September
2001, Hodges has been a member of the faculty for three decades.
Times have changed since he first began his career in education
and so has the focus of the teacher education program.
the 1970s the issue of urban education first began to surface.
Originally, it was urban education as opposed to rural education.
Now urban education has taken on its own meaning: the education
needs of the inner city. It is this that Hunter, and Dean Hodges
pay special attention to. We have made a pronounced commitment
to urban education and have done a lot more to refine and expand
that vision. There are more stakeholders now than before and fewer
persons who would devalue it, the Dean comments. In fact, of the
approximately 3,000 students enrolled in the School of Education,
most of them do go on to teach in the New York City public schools.
you prepare teachers just in content then you are not addressing
the real needs of the inner city child; content without commitment
does not yield positive results, says Hodges. Therefore, when
Hunter College constructed a conceptual framework for the process
of accreditation, social justice was a key feature. It became
a bedrock on which our program rests. A passion for social justice,
in turn, has become an important criterion for recruiting both
students and staff.
theme of social justice permeates all of the course work and can
be seen most clearly in the mandatory class for graduate students
Diversity in American Education. This is but one example of what
is available at Hunter. Programs at Hunter, to name a few, include
TESOL, a literacy program, an early childhood program, a special
education program, a social studies program, a school counseling
program, a program in administration and supervision, and a math
program. The college places a particular emphasis on mathematics
education, holding regular workshops during the school year for
principals and assistant principals of Schools Under Registration
Review (SURR). These workshops have received such positive feedback
from those who participated that the School of Education is starting
a special Mathematics Center to expand this initiative. Hunter
participates with other colleges of the City University of New
York in the TOP program to increase the number of math and science
teachers in New York City public schools. The program targets
career changers offering them full tuition toward an MA in education.
College participates also in a Teaching Fellows program. This
fall, at Hunter, a second cohort of about 70 fellows will start.
I am very supportive of the Fellows because it is a collaboration
between the Board of Higher Education and the Board of Education.
Im a bridge builder and I would like to see cooperation whenever
possible, said Hodges. The dire need for certified teachers in
urban education makes the Dean a strong proponent of the Fellows
Program. This program, run jointly by the Board of Education and
several colleges, offers concentrated free courses for qualified
individuals. There are flaws however, the Dean carefully explained,
but they were not insurmountable. Fellows may not receive all
the assistance that they need to be successful teachers in this
concentrated program. There is also the problem of other teacher
education students who have struggled to pay for their education
and have not been in a Fellows Program who do not get concentrated
attention and sometimes cannot finish their degrees because of
economic hardships. As of now these questions remain unanswered
but research is currently underway by CUNY.
to the Dean himself, he takes pride in the college. When we confer
a Hunter degree we are giving a wonderful gift to the City of
New York and to the world, he says. He mentions the two women
Nobel Prize winners to graduate from HunterRosalyn Yalow who graduated
from Hunter in 1941 won the Nobel prize in 1977 for the development
of radioimmunoassay, a pioneer technique to measure concentrations
of insulin, hormones, and other substances; and Gertrude B. Elion
who graduated Hunter in 1937 and was awarded the Nobel prize in
1988 for fundamental research that led to the development of AZT
and other drugs.
his tenure as faculty member and currently dean, Hodges remembers
the enthusiasm and idealism of all the students. As to the change
in the attitudes of the student body he observed; The changes
I see are not as much in the students themselves but in what they
can expect to get when they come herethe students who come here
now are getting more to work with as they prepare to teach in
inner city schools. With all the improvements the Dean is still
not satisfied. [In five years] Id like the School of Education
to have the name of being the very best school of education in
New York Citypublic or privatefor persons interested in careers
serving children within the inner city. Id like us to have the
name for doing that better than anyone else. And, I think that
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