Good afternoon. My name is Tim Slekar and I am the Dean of the School of Education at Edgewood College.
Let me be clear from the outset.
- Our teacher shortage is a manufactured crisis that has resulted in an Exodus from the profession and has routed potential teachers away from teacher education.
- Loosening, tinkering, and doing away with teacher licenses—as some have proposed—will do NOTHING except dramatically increase systemic inequity and genuinely harm the profession of teaching.
However, let’s be honest. What’s happening here is happening all across the country. Policy makers and pundits actively push the teacher shortage narrative. And, in the same breath advocate and put forth policies that do away with teacher licensing. Why?
Well there are two answers. One that rests on the teacher shortage narrative and plays into the fear of public school parents.
The other is the truth.
The fear answer. Allowing license flexibility or doing away with teaching licenses altogether will fix the shortage. and If “we” don’t do something fast children will face empty classrooms.
The TRUTH: Softening teacher license policies or doing away with the license altogether will kill the profession and turn teaching into a low wage service sector job.
It’s that simple. Yet trying to get policy makers, pundits, and media to understand this seems almost impossible. Trust me. I have been trying for the last 11 months.
However, other than what I have already said I do not plan on delivering a negative critique of the suggested license tampering—a tampering that only works for certain adults but fails our children, our schools and our communities.
Instead I want to propose model legislation that might have a chance of undoing the damage already done.
Today I propose the “Teachers Our Children Deserve Act.” It is very simple. All of our children deserve a fully qualified, licensed teacher. A teacher who is culturally competent. A teacher with a deep understanding of linguistic plurality. A teacher with multiple experiences in inclusive settings. These teachers must have an education rooted in critical pedagogy that exposes societal inequities and inspires a passion for social justice.
And then, if there happens to be a “shortage” this legislation will provide the funding to school districts and teacher education programs that form a mutual partnership that uses a model for teacher recruitment called “grow your own.”
What is “grow your own?” Simple. Our best and brightest future teachers are already living in the communities of our public schools or are actually attending these schools.
We must actively recruit these candidates into teaching and fully fund it. Actually incentivize the future of the profession by requiring IHEs and districts to develop deep partnerships to address the direct needs of districts that combines the talents of all involved. The so-called shortage will quickly die as our children finally get The TEACHERS THEY DESERVE!
Devaluing teacher licensure will create even more inequity and harm our most vulnerable children.
Rather we must incentivize and inspire a movement of future educators. Our children, our schools and our communities DEMAND “The Teachers Our Children Deserve.”
Thank you for the time to speak.