Take 5 — President Michael F. Adams on the College of Education

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Q: The College of Education is one of UGA’s largest colleges or schools, producing more than 600 new graduates each year. How important is UGA’s teacher education program to the rest of the state?

A: Teacher education in the entire state of Georgia is led by the UGA College of Education. With the largest college of education in America, it not only produces hundreds of teachers each year but many of the people who teach the teachers at many colleges and universities all over the state. The entire educational enterprise, particularly K-12 and the state universities, would grind to a halt without UGA.

Q: In addition to undergraduates, UGA produces a significant number of Ph.D. students in education, many who go on to teach undergraduates at other schools, like Kennesaw State University, Georgia State University and Georgia Southern University. How does it benefit UGA to have a presence on the faculty of these other schools?

A: We are very proud of our relationships with other system schools and with private colleges and universities throughout the state of Georgia. I daresay there are more UGA Ph.D.s on those faculties than from any other institution. The quality of what we do here raises all boats in the state, at both the K-12 and postsecondary level.

Q: A few years back, UGA partnered with the Clarke County Schools to create professional development schools (PDS) throughout the county. Through this partnership, more UGA faculty and students are in the public schools teaching programs. How does this benefit UGA students?

A: We are very committed to the improvement of public education in Clarke County. We have a wonderful and re-energized partnership with the highly regarded Superintendent Phillip Lanoue and a recommitted school board. Great progress is being made in the Clarke County School District, aided by UGA professional development programs and a shared commitment to improvement.

Q: Beyond Athens-Clarke County, College of Education outreach programs are active in some way in every one of Georgia’s 159 counties, either doing research, evaluating programs or helping to improve teacher quality. What obligation does UGA have to these other regions of the state?

A: As the state’s land-grant university, we have a major commitment to every person, not to mention every county, in the state of Georgia. There are UGA teachers in every one of the 159 counties in the state, and it would be the rare school that does not have UGA graduates in its administrative leadership. We take this obligation seriously.

Q: How important is improving K-12 education to the future of higher education?

A: While the university system has made great progress in this state in the past 40 years, the K-12 system has faced numerous challenges and become increasingly bimodal. The happy news is that 40 percent of the public and private high schools in Georgia are producing young people who can compete with young people anywhere, from China to Germany to India and back. On the other hand, about 40 percent of the schools in this state are seriously underperforming, and increasingly there is little between the two extremes. For the future economic development of the state, we simply have to redouble our efforts to raise that lower 40 percent. I believe it is the most serious social issue the state faces and it will take our best efforts, in both urban and rural areas, to be successful.