The least experienced, least trained teachers often are placed in low income schools with the most need. Now, a new proposed state bill is trying to change that.
The bill would ban school districts from hiring educators provided by third party organizations, like Teach for America. Teach for America is known for recruiting highly motivated, passionate college graduates who may not have a background in education, training them for five weeks and then placing them in low income schools where they get paid to teach, while pursuing a credential.
“This bill is really frustrating to me, and offensive to me,” said Teach For America alumna, Elise Morgan.
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The 29-year-old now teaches Special Education at Patrick Henry High School. She received her teaching credential while being paid to teach at an elementary school in a low-income neighborhood for two years, as part of the Teach for America internship program. Morgan says California Assembly Bill 221 would make the teaching shortage worse.
“We absolutely have a teaching shortage, especially in high-needs areas like where I teach,” Morgan said. “This bill is not going to fix that. Instead of recruiting our most qualified, our most passionate teachers into this profession, this bill is going to scare people from going into it.”
The bill's author is democrat Christina Garcia from Bell Gardens, near Los Angeles. Garcia says the answer to the teacher shortage is not placing untrained educators in classrooms, who often leave after the required two years.
She calls it a band aid fix that exacerbates the academic problems facing low-income students.
Assembly woman Shirley Weber from San Diego is on the California Assembly education committee and voted in favor of moving the bill forward.
She says the least experienced teachers often end up in low income schools, but notes it is an issue that goes beyond Teach for America. Weber says there are “too many new teachers in one school and there is an inability often times with those schools to support and provide mechanisms to support and help those (new) teachers become effective. That is for Teach for America. It is for any other program we have going on.”
Morgan says “We are going to lose so many good people if we cut this out, we’re going to lose so many good teachers and that's going to impact students.”
Charter schools do not support the bill, and the California Teachers Association says it has not taken a position.