Washington Week Speaker Spotlight: What Has California Done to Address the Teacher Shortage and Why it Worked?
A Q&A with Susan Kemper Patrick and Karen Escalante
Susan Kemper Patrick Ph.D. and Karen Escalante, Ed.D. are presenting a session at AACTE’s 2023 Washington Week, June 4-7, “An Increased Number of Teachers?! What Has California Done to Address the Teacher Shortage and Why has it Worked?” Below Patrick and Escalante answer a few questions about the topics they will discuss at the session and tools attendees can take back to their organizations.
Q. What can attendees expect to learn from your Washington Week 2023 session, “An Increased Number of Teachers?! What Has California Done to Address the Teacher Shortage and Why has it Worked?”
Patrick: Over the past decade, California has considerably revised its statewide standards for teacher preparation and invested more than $1.4 billion in teacher recruitment and retention. In this session, we’ll describe these policy changes and use a statewide survey from almost 60,000 completers of California teacher preparation programs to explore the experiences that new teachers in the state are having during their preparation. We’ll highlight how the new teacher workforce is changing in California, examine the importance of clinical experiences in preparation and the potential of residency programs, and describe how access to highly-rated preparation experiences is still not universal.
Q. Since the onset of COVID-19, the educational landscape has changed dramatically. How has your work shifted due to these new educational challenges?
Escalante: At the core of who I am as an educator is authenticity, humanity, and deep respect for my students – regardless of the age I am teaching. The onset of COVID-19 and the continually changing educational landscape has forced me to dig deeper into those key components. I am intentional about checking in on the peace and wellness of my students and modeling all the strategies I hope they bring forth into their own teaching practice. As our educational spaces have shifted between in-person and online, I am additionally intentional about creating a community within my courses. Laughter is a must; I often tell my students, “I don’t take myself seriously, but I take the profession very seriously.” Teaching is incredibly hard; my job is to build my teacher candidates up with the knowledge, skills, dispositions, joy, passion, energy, commitment, and love for the students and field they are entering because the field and the public at large don’t necessarily give them that same support.
Q. What knowledge or tools do you hope Washington Week attendees will gain that they can take back to their organization and community?
Escalante: Attending and participating in AACTE’s Washington Week provides attendees with a lens into advocacy and the opportunity to jump in headfirst and connect with policymakers. Learning the language and ways to engage at the local, state, and national levels to advocate on behalf of (teacher) education is a valued and powerful skill set. Taking such skills back to your organization and community allows for new ideas to be fostered, connections to be built, and relationships to be established. All of these lead to intentionality within (teacher) education, ultimately leading to Pk-12 student success.
Educator preparation professionals are invited to join Washington Week, AACTE’s premier advocacy event, to exchange ideas with like-minded colleagues and leaders and advocate for positive change in educational policies. Take a look at the full schedule of sessions and register by May 31 to save your spot.
Susan Kemper Patrick, Ph.D. is a senior researcher on the Educator Quality team at the Learning Policy Institute.
Karen Escalante, Ed.D. is an assistant professor at California State University San Bernardino and is the president-elect for the California Council for Teacher Education.