Monday, February 10, 2020

Love Grow Your Own (but not without the actual growth part)

The Governor of Virginia, Ralph Northam, recently announced a grow-your-own type of program for teachers. According to this piece:

On Monday, Governor Ralph Northam unveiled what he called a potential new solution to Virginia’s teacher shortage problem. Northam announced a proposed $1 million investment toward attracting STEM teachers from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs).  
It's called UTeach and it gives secondary teaching certificates to students who graduate university with degrees in things like biology or chemistry.
So, I am all for "Grow your Own," state-sponsored, and fully funded alternative teacher credentialing programs, and this one certainly will address three problems at once: low rates of teacher recruitment and retention, low numbers of teachers qualified to teach STEM subjects, and an insufficient number of Black teachers in our public schools. Furthermore, it won't cost the teacher candidates. And, we need more people of African descent in higher-level STEM positions, so having more Black STEM teachers should help with that.

That being said, I really hope the plan is not to just hand off teaching licenses to college graduates without giving them any sort of training/education, student teaching/apprenticeship experiences, mentoring, and support. Because that's a very bad idea. I'm afraid it will just perpetuate the cycle of high teacher turnover. Teachers in Virginia are already leaving the profession in high numbers, and unprepared teachers are even more likely to leave.

Fully funded, alternative programs for aspiring teachers of color are great; trying to to short cut our way to growing the profession and STEM fields in a much-needed direction is not.

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