The Harvard cooperative teacher internship program, financed by a grant from the Ford Foundation's Fund for the Advancement of Education, was inaugurated to provide graduate study as preparation for teaching. Vassar was among the 20 collaborating colleges whose graduates were eligible for fellowships for a fifth year in Cambridge, leading to a Master of Education for elementary-school teachers or a Master of Arts in Teaching for secondary-school teachers.
The 21 collaborating institutions agreed on five basic conclusions: too few qualified graduates of liberal arts colleges were entering primary and secondary teaching; both colleges and teacher-training institutions bore responsibility for improving this situation; broad liberal arts preparation for future teachers was an essential requisite; accurate and current information about salaries, working conditions and opportunities for advancement in public education must be available to education students; advanced training in education for liberal arts bachelors must be intellectually stimulating.
In February, 1952, when the cooperative program was announced, The New York Times reported President Blanding’s emphatic agreement on this last point. “The fellowships, she added, will attract good students who otherwise could not afford a fifth year of study. Although the advantages of a liberal arts education are of fundamental importance, they have usually been discounted because of the emphasis upon specific education courses for teacher-certification.
“As a result, Dr. Blanding explained, the liberal arts colleges have not been in a strong position to present public-school teaching as a career. At Vassar…there were many superior students who could be attracted to public-school teaching if an interesting preparation such as the one proposed at Harvard was offered….”