March 6, 2012

Letter to the Editor: Maintaining a Strong Education Department

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To the Editor:

Re: “After Cuts to Cornell’s Department, Ithaca College Offers Masters in Teaching” News, March 2

Cornell University, along with integrated partners throughout the University and New York State, does offer a vibrant, rigorous and effective teacher preparation program in the STEM areas of agriculture, biology, chemistry, earth science and physics. The recent article entitled “After Cuts to Cornell’s Department, Ithaca College Offers Masters in Teaching” presented a confusing portrayal of the Cornell Teacher Education Program. After reading the article, students and their advisors may be confused about what Cornell does and does not offer to students who want to enter the (amazingly challenging and fun) world of middle and high school teaching. First, Cornell continues to offer a program to prepare and certify students to teach high school physics, chemistry, earth science, biology and agriculture. We also certify in middle school general science. In addition to these certifications, the CTE program offers the popular education minor, which is available to all students at Cornell. Second, the agreement with Ithaca College covers content areas that Cornell does not certify. For example, students who want to become certified English, social studies, French or Spanish language teachers can start their educational coursework at Cornell and then articulate to Ithaca College through this agreement with our friends there. We assure students that those of us who work in Cornell Teacher Education are doing everything we can — including applying for a grant outside of university support to build our capacity to recruit and prepare diverse, creative science teachers who are able to reach all students — to continue the tradition of rigorous and effective teacher preparation at Cornell in these critical STEM areas. We agree with Professor Sipple that Cornell, as an institution of world-class science and humanities, should also be respectably engaged with the preparation of next-generation teachers. As the article stated, the home for teacher preparation is now the Horticulture Department, whose commitment to excellent teaching and to “taking it outside and getting our hands dirty” continues to inspire us. Please check out our website,, to explore your future in education.

Prof. Travis Park, horticulture