In the last issue, we outlined some of the solutions to end the severe teacher shortage in the Department of Education. The need is dire. Nationally, only 4.2 percent of high school graduates plan to become teachers and enrollments in colleges of education across the country including Hawaii has dropped an average 30 percent.
A few of the solutions we listed are more long range in their impact. There are other long range solutions in operation, so let’s look at those. Your organization, the HEA, has a cooperative program with the Department of Education and Pi Lambda Theta-Beta Zeta Hawaii Chapter called TAAC or Teaching as a Career. The Association provides stipends for the TAAC clubs, support for the groups and guidance for the teacher leaders. In 2016, HEA held the first annual TAAC Symposium with seven teacher club advisors attending. Currently, there are three Teacher Academies and at least one interfacing with TAAC.
The Department of Education and the College of Education through its Institute for Teacher Education has a new program called Grow Our Own Teacher Initiative with a tentative start date of Spring 2018. Its target are those baccalaureate holders who want a teacher license in a secondary content area such as mathematics. Currently, half of the 4,200 DOE’s substitute teachers hold a bachelor’s degree and there are 3,000 educational assistants working in schools. How many hold degrees is not currently known but that information could be gathered. This new program is supported by $400,000 in the State budget introduced by Senator Kidani and assertively supported by the senator. The Institute’s target is secondary school shortage areas. Teachers who hold temporary teaching assignments can use their current teaching assignment as field experience
Another initiative is Educators Rising. It is the successor to the Future Teacher Clubs of America founded in 1937 by the National Education Association. Educators Rising is in partnership with the NEA which is providing a $250,000 grant which will used specifically for the development of Educators Rising Standards. These standards will be developed by a committee and used by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. The Standards will be the foundation for curriculum and micro-credentials---these are competency-based recognition---which is critical to the “grow your own” teacher movement in country’s high schools.
Dan Brown, Co-Director of Educators Rising reports, “over 60 percent of teachers teach within 20 miles of where they went to high school, so it’s crucial for every community to invest in growing their own great teachers. Each community’s future teaching workforce is on the student side of the desk today.”
Currently, there is no active movement to establish Educators Rising in Hawaii, though one teacher in an Oahu high school is interesting starting a chapter in her school. As the wise Chinese proverb states, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”
Hopefully, this teacher’s single step will add to the efforts by the DOE and UH to supply highly qualified teachers for Hawaii’s public schools. Websites to visit for additional information are https://educatorsrising.org; http://www.nea.org; email@example.com.
By Joan Lee Husted, HEA Board Member