Over the next three to five years, Los Angeles will have a projected shortage of about 10,000 instructors.
That qualifies teacher preparation as a prominent issue for districts across the country. And it was a much-discussed topic last month in Washington, D.C., where USC Rossier School of Education Dean Karen Symms Gallagher attended a three-day forum that placed senior congressional staff who help to shape policy in the same room with U.S. educators.
“We are talking about teachers who have been there 25, 30 years, who love what they are doing and are making an impact,” she said. “They walk out the door and you lose all of that experience. Who’s going to mentor new teachers? Do you want to have a bunch of people who have been in the classroom just a couple of years? Research does show that it takes three to five years to become effective at what you’re doing.”
“Preparing for Excellence: The Role of Teacher Preparation in a Changing Policy Landscape” was sponsored by the Aspen Institute.
Gallagher shared her success story regarding teacher preparation — USC Rossier’s online Master of Arts in Teaching program — at the gathering. Since its inception in 2009, the program has produced more than 2,000 teachers.
“Like a lot of research universities, we had a small boutique program to train teachers,” Gallagher said. “In the same time frame and without the online component, the university would have only graduated 200 teachers.”
Other participants who offered their perspective on the topic included a state superintendent, two high-level school district employees and representatives from non-traditional preparation programs.
Gallagher attends numerous seminars and conferences across the country in her capacity as dean. This particular meeting, she noted, was unique because it attempted to establish a meaningful dialogue between policymakers and national education leaders.
“I consider it a personal honor to have been invited,” she said. “I think I was invited because of the things we’ve accomplished as a faculty and as a school. It’s an acknowledgement of that. After all, there are 2,000 deans out there.”
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