This article originally appeared in District Administration and is reprinted with permission.
Our nation’s most significant innovations stem from education. From the founding of our nation to the moon landing in 1969, from the introduction of personal computers in 1971 to the advent of the internet in 1983, such accomplishments would not have occurred without education and an educated populace. Without educators we will not continue to innovate, create, and lead the world. We have ignored the dwindling number of people entering the field of education for decades. As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of teachers exiting classrooms only continues to increase.
In a recent Washington Post article, AACTE Dean in Residence Leslie Fenwick and two corporate CEOs explore the research that confirms early childhood education programs advance cognitive development and academic achievement that reduces the long-term attainment gaps and produces functioning, responsible adults. Moreover, the authors underscore the critical need to counter the current historic setbacks to high-quality child care—for working mothers and their families and for the U.S. economy at large.
Fenwick, along with Roger W. Crandall, chairman, president and CEO of MassMutual, and JD Chesloff, president and chief executive officer of the Massachusetts Business Roundtable, share a perspective that the business community has a critical role to play to make universal child care and Pre-K a reality.
The article focuses on three primary areas: an evolving American workforce and caregiver model, promoting economic growth and equity in education, and advocating for a solution.
To read the full article, “The business case for public investment in early-childhood programs,” visit the Washington Post website.
Permission granted by Jeremiah Robinson, the Office of Mayor Martin J. Walsh, City of Boston
In this time of division and crisis, we, as school leaders, cannot sit quietly by. Volatile and violent debates threaten to erode our hallways and undermine our solemn promise to America’s students—to provide them with high-quality education in safe spaces. We are compelled to reaffirm what and who we stand for and to advocate for a collective recommitment to civility in our schools and in our communities.
This op-ed originally appeared in Diverse Issues in Higher Education and is reprinted with permission.
Kimberly White-Smith and Jacob Easley
I love America more than any other country in the world and, exactly for this reason, I insist on the right to criticize her perpetually. – James Baldwin
The momentum of social and racial justice fueled by recent events finds us at a significant crossroad with divergent paths—one path opening to opportunity and one leading to entropy. The approach we choose to follow will affect society and the lives of many for generations to come. Should we choose the way of opportunity, we must seriously grapple with the debates and our commitment to preserving a true democracy. Should we select the other, we accept the deterioration of hard-earned civil rights—choosing to abdicate to systems, laws, and politics that have historically disadvantaged those unable to make a living wage and people of color. As deans of educator preparation programs who work closely with the nation’s two largest school districts (New York City Department of Education and Los Angeles Unified School District), we understand the relevance of education. It is the core vehicle for liberatory practice and for championing American democracy. If education is the road to national mobility, and we believe it is, we must preserve the mechanisms and freedoms to critique and examine the governing structures of our society.
This article originally appeared in The Hechinger Report.
Long before the pandemic, school districts across the nation struggled to staff classrooms with skilled teachers. The crisis did not create the teacher shortage, but it accelerated teacher retirements and other departures while contributing to declining enrollments in educator preparation programs.
Our nation’s education system spans national, state, district, classroom and community levels. Many rightly wonder if this ecosystem’s demand for qualified teachers can be met in the post-pandemic era.
To do so, we need deeper—and more active—collaborations to address the multiple layers of challenges inside the teaching profession so that we can effectively recruit, train and retain more teachers.
Addressing the needs of new teachers affected by the twin crises.
Over the past year, COVID-19 created an uncertain landscape that deeply impacted our nation’s educational systems. Compounding the effects of the pandemic, another crisis emerged—racial injustice. These twin crises together have generated new obstacles and exacerbated those that have long been a concern of the educator community. As we reopen schools and return to in-class instruction, teachers face unprecedented challenges toward “getting back to normal,” including safety concerns, the need to address learning loss, and the social and emotional well-being of their students—a daunting undertaking for even the most experienced teacher.
This article originally appeared in the Richmond Times-Dispatch and is reprinted with permission.
Charles Dickens once wrote, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” This sentiment resonates to many as the education of our children resurfaces from the pandemic. Teachers and schools have been challenged by this unexpected enemy and emerged remarkably strong. Looking toward the future, the education of our children has taken on great significance since COVID-19, but it also will face unexpected—in addition to the familiar—obstacles.
There are so many good things happening in education today. Front and center of all that is good is the funding that has been given to education at the federal level through the CARES Act and from other COVID-19 relief measures. Most schools are planning for face-to-face instruction in the fall, and many are providing summer sessions to help students make academic gains lost during the pandemic. Most graduations this spring proceeded in typical fashion, with some caution and adjustments, to the delight of students and families.
“Never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that is it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.” Rahm Emanuel, Former Mayor of Chicago
In the past year, our nation’s educational system faced an epic crisis brought about by the pandemic, leaving education leaders wondering when relief would be in sight. That relief arrived on March 11, 2021, when the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP) was passed by Congress, allocating approximately $130 billion for the K-12 education system and nearly $40 billion for the higher education system. As the Biden-Harris administration launches into action with the massive rollout of unprecedented education funding, school districts now have the financial resources and the opportunity to collaborate with educator preparation programs (EPPs) to tackle a long-standing crisis—the shortage of professionally qualified educators.
Illustration by Paige Vickers
This opinion article by AACTE Dean in Residence Leslie T. Fenwick was published in Politico and is reprinted with permission.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated harmful educational inequalities in the preK-12 public education system. The nation’s poorest students, Black and Latino students, and our disabled students have been the most negatively impacted by school closings necessitated by the pandemic. Black students in high poverty schools have been especially hard hit because of the racialized, historic, and ongoing disinvestment in the education of Black children and youth.
The COVID-19 pandemic made a profound impact our nation’s education system. In most states, educational policies have been implemented to promote the wearing of face coverings, physical distancing, virtual instruction, and intermittent school closures based on the rise of positive COVID-19 cases reported in local communities. Despite the many challenges educators face during this unprecedented time, there are lessons learned and a call for transformation that make this the best of times to pursue a teaching career. Here are some reasons why.
It is clear that the pandemic had a profound impact on teacher education, and clinical practice in particular. The closing of virtually all K-12 schools in the spring of 2020 cascaded back to teacher education, greatly reducing (and certainly altering) the clinical practice experiences of student teachers. This continued into the 2020-21 school year as schools in many communities remained closed for in-person instruction.
To examine how the COVID-19 crisis affected the teacher preparation pipeline in the state of Washington, we surveyed 29 state-accredited educator preparation programs (EPPs) from April to June 2020. The findings showed that more than 80% of responding EPPs waived or reduced the length of time required for student teaching in their undergraduate programs, graduate programs, or both. These reductions raise concerns about the preparation of recent cohorts of teacher candidates to join the teaching workforce.
This article originally appeared in the Opinion section of The Columbus Dispatch and is reprinted with permission.
I applaud Ohio University—together with more than half of four-year colleges nationwide—in adopting a test-optional pathway for admission for first-year applicants.
All institutions of higher education should lead the efforts to reverse structural roadblocks to potential students and provide access to the promise of an enriched life that education can provide.
For too long, standardized testing has been overused and misused in ways that either knowingly or inadvertently set up structures akin to institutional and structural inequities. Structural inequities consist of laws, rules or official policies in a society that result in and support a continued unfair advantage to some people—deep patterns of socioeconomic inequalities and disadvantage due to socioeconomic class or racism.
Though institutions of higher education should have standards for admission, they have an obligation to eliminate barriers for students and expand access to higher education. Newly proposed standards—such as those by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation—will succeed in this mission without negatively impacting academic quality or student
This article originally appeared in University Business and is reprinted with permission.
As we enter the new year, many education leaders are questioning the impact of the pandemic on educator preparation programs (EPPs) and the pipeline of new teachers entering classrooms in 2021 and beyond.
Will colleges and universities expand and invest in their education programs to meet the demand for new teachers as educators retire due to COVID-19 health concerns? Will they downsize their education programs due to budget cuts resulting from the pandemic? Will they find innovative ways to collaborate with other institutions to sustain their education programs?
While there are many uncertainties, what we do know is that if educational programs are scaled back or terminated, the national teacher shortage will be exacerbated.
During the virtual AACTE 2021 Annual Meeting, attendees are invited to join their peers at the Learning Lab session, Preparing Educators for Equitable Family, School, and Community Engagement on Thursday, February 25 from 3:45 – 4:45 p.m. AACTE member Gail Richmond of Michigan State University addresses this topic in the following thought leadership article.
Effective educators see themselves as more than just employees in a building. They consider themselves to be contributing members of a greater community. Educators do so much more than teach children academic lessons; they play a very important role in helping families and preparing young people to lead healthy and productive lives and to make their communities supportive and safe places to live. The more teachers know about the needs of their students, their families, and the communities in which they live, the more responsive they can be to those needs.
Powerful professional learning is the result of identifying and addressing relevant problems specific to individuals based on their own development and needs. Powerful professional learning also enables teachers to expand their perspectives and to refine their teaching strategies in order to be responsive to the students they educate, their family members, and the greater community.
During the virtual AACTE 2021 Annual Meeting, attendees are invited to join their peers at the Deeper Dive Session, Leading in the Time of Crisis: Responding to COVID19 and Social Justice Movements, Wednesday, February 24 at 4:00 – 5:15 p.m. AACTE member Andrew J. Schiera of the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education addresses this topic in the following thought leadership article.
Our world has never experienced anything like it did in 2020. Last year, we found ourselves at a major crossroad. Amidst fighting a global pandemic, our country also experienced intense civil unrest and protests due to the killings of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and others. We have all been deeply affected by these events, and our nation’s teachers have been thrust into a world unknown. They must not only become practical-minded, on-the-ground social justice educators but must learn how to do so effectively in an ever-changing virtual environment. Now, more than ever, we must dig deep into what we know as teacher educators and to listen, anticipate, and plan rather than reacting to barriers (both expected and unexpected) that emerge along the way.