Well, I had once tutored someone who was a Education major in a respectful university in order to help that person prepare for the Math part of Praxis I Pre-Professional Skills Test. That person said to me the he/she took the test twice before and both times missed passing the test by 1 or 2 math questions. When I met the person, he/she couldn't even get started in any of the first 5 example problems from Praxis test website. He/she had trouble understanding what the question was about, even though he/she is a native born White American, and immediately had problems working with fractions and almost any concept in basic algebra like concepts of ratios and such. Furthermore he/she repeated made mistakes in ONE DIGIT ADDITION AND SUBTRACTION, not to mention multiplication and division ( EX: the person adamantly claimed 8 * 4 =36 ). I had no choice but to advise the person that he/she would get the 1 ~ 2 question boost he/she needed if the person would practice some common arithmetic problems found in those math workbooks for 3 ~ 5 th grade elementary school students sold in many department stores and book stores. Needless to say, that person dropped me as her/his tutor, 1 day after the session.
I don't know which is more scarier : That such a person will graduate to be an Elementary School teacher in USA ( The person was a Sophomore in Elementary School Education ), Or that He/she claimed that she only needed to get 2 more questions out of 46 questions to pass Math portion of a test required for Teacher's Certificate. Another scary thing is, from the experience I had when working in HR department of a test prep, we were never able to hire someone in math or science field with just Education-department related degrees , like Math-Education or Science-Education majors, because 90% of them just couldn't pass baseline test on Math or Science subject they were applying for. ( For example, if someone wanted to teach Math, we would ask them to present a transcripts that contains grades for Calculus II & III , AP Calculus BC score of 5, or GRE Mathematics Subject Test Score ( http://www.ets.org/gre/subject/about/co ... index.html ) . We even offered to do a shortened form of these tests in our institute if they don't have the test scores or transcripts. While 80% of applicants with real Math/Science/Engineering degree passed those tests with easy, 90% of those with only Education related degrees either refused to take the test, or just give up on the test within few minutes of starting ) The something like that a hundred Education degree candidates, all with teaching experience and teacher's certificates that I met while working with the test prep, being very unlikely to possess the most basic mathematics or science problem solving abilities, suggests that the Education Colleges in USA are simply not teaching nor requiring their students to have math and science level to the level that is needed.
It is my opinion that if Education majors in USA are not required to handle much more complicated math and science problems in order to receive a degree or certificates in field of Education, then no amount of money or policy change can fix USA Public Education. No amount of money and support systems can help the students if the people who are leading them doesn't know the materials any better than the students. Unless even Middle/Junior High school Science teachers are required to get better than 60th percentile in advanced tests like GRE Biology, Chemistry, or Physic Subject Tests, USA public Education quality will get even worse. In most other countries in the world, someone who is a math education major is expected to undergo same math-related curriculum as regular Math major; the difference is only in the liberal arts subjects and electives where Math major has more freedom of choice while Math-Education major must choose above certain amount of Education-field subjects. Often a Physics-Education major undergraduate enters a normal Physics Graduate school after passing the entrance exam and getting required grades in some core Physics subjects, thus it is not like I'm suggesting something that is not the norm in the rest of the world.
What do you think? Is it possible that I had bad luck of running into series of teachers or teacher-candidates who are not qualified? Do you think USA can enact the reform in the place that is actually needed: the place where they are teaching the teachers of the future?