Building an Excellent, Empowered and Diverse Teaching Force in California
At Teach Plus, we are driven by our belief that every student should have the opportunity to achieve their full potential in an education system defined by its commitment to equity, its responsiveness to individual needs, and its ability to prepare students for post-secondary success. This can only happen when every student has access to excellent, empowered, and diverse teachers.
Teach Plus and Teach Plus Teacher Leaders believe that California state leaders must explore a range of recruitment, development, and retention strategies to expand the teacher workforce to meet the changing educational needs in the state. We support several current legislative efforts to invest in increasing the capacity of educators. The calls for substantial new funding for educator training, teachers residencies, and financial supports in AB 1623, AB 1041, and AB 843 are promising steps. These efforts will help address the state’s teacher shortage challenges while concurrently supporting diverse teachers who might struggle to enter the profession. However, we believe the state must do more. In addition to these legislative vehicles, we urge the state to establish an ongoing grant fund to invest in continued educator growth and learning opportunities. The following are our recommendations on improving teacher recruitment and retention in California:
+ Invest in Educator Growth and Learning. We believe that there should be an ongoing state commitment to support professional learning for educators, as the needs of our students and the role of teachers are ever-changing. We recommend an increase in financial supports for educator development, and that the state establish the Fund for Educator Growth and Learning (the EGL Fund) and fund it with a portion of settle-up funds every year they are available. For the 2019-20 budget, we propose directing EGL Fund to support grants for LEAs focused on improving their induction and mentoring programs for new teachers.
+ Expand the investment in teacher residency programs as critical tools for recruiting and retaining excellent, diverse teachers with high degrees of instructional and cultural competence to teach in high-needs schools through AB 1041.
+ Restore funding for the Assumption Program of Loans for Education (APLE) through AB 843, providing loan assistance to reduce the burden of student loans for future and current teachers in mathematics, science, special education, bilingual education, or career technical education in a school district in need of support.
We believe that increased investment in targeted professional learning for educators, teacher residencies as a tool for building a teaching force that better reflects our student body, and intentional recruitment strategies into the profession will have meaningful impacts on student outcomes. We look forward to continuing to elevate teacher voice at the state level as part of these important conversations on teacher recruitment and retention.
Ensuring All Emergent Bilingual Students Have All They Need to Succeed
More than 20 percent of California’s students, or nearly 1.3 million students, are classified as English learners. Of those students, less than 13 percent of them meet standards in math or English language arts. Within the EL population, you will find students with varied needs, including native-born students, newcomers, English learners with learning disabilities, and Long-Term English Learners (LTELs). California must do more to support all of their needs.
Over the last several years, California has adopted policies that focus on our large population of English learners. With the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and Local Control and Accountability Plan (LCAP), districts receive additional funding for supporting EL students. In 2017, the State Board of Education adopted a new policy for ELs, the California English Learner Roadmap: Strengthening Comprehensive Educational Policies, Programs, and Practices for English Learners (EL Roadmap). LCFF and the EL Roadmap established a policy infrastructure for improving support and opportunities for our emergent bilingual students, but we have only begun to look at how that policy is changing what is happening on the ground.
While we had hoped that the focus on English Learners in LCFF and the adoption of the English Learner Roadmap would result in changes in opportunities for our emergent bilingual students, policy guidelines without the necessary guidance and fiscal support to implement that policy will not have any impact on our schools and students. Recognizing the need to go beyond resolutions to implement the EL Roadmap, we are supporting two legislative vehicles to ensure all districts can serve emergent bilingual students well:
+ Prioritize and invest in professional development for educators in instructional strategies for English learners and developing bilingual educators by supporting AB 1012.
+ Expand and enhance the capacity of educators to implement the EL Roadmap in order to better support Emergent Bilingual students by supporting SB 594.
The adoption of the EL Roadmap represents a shift in how we think about our English learner students. We are pleased that it brings to light the value of our diversity as a state and all the assets our students bring to bear. But a policy framework alone is not enough. If we want to see changes in our students’ outcomes, we must invest in translating these principles to action. We support these bills to do just that.
[i] California Department of Education, Dataquest - Retrieved from: https://dq.cde.ca.gov/dataquest/dataquest.asp