In California, we’re facing the largest educator workforce crisis in our history and have the third-highest teacher shortage in the country.
To bring awareness to the educator workforce crisis impacting the nation, we hosted a critical conversation in collaboration with KIPP NorCal Public Schools and Aspire Public School on October 12 at KIPP Endeavor College Prep.
Expert panelists included Marisol Pineda Conde, deputy director at The Teaching Well; Dr. Stanley Johnson, vice president of the Los Angeles County Board of Education; Dr. Jacquelyn Ollison, co-director of the California Teacher Residency Lab; and Dr. Norma Perez, director of Adverse Childhood Experience Grants at AltaMed.
Moderator Dr. Frank Lozier, a transformational educator from Compton Early College High School, asked the panel of education experts poignant questions that unpacked educators' challenges, including compensation, compassion fatigue, and navigating trauma.
“When we think about what it means to be an educator, we know that teaching is one part, but it really is being a part of the lives of all the students in the room. What we’re asking educators to do is a tremendous task, so all of those factors have to be considered when we’re thinking about the profession and the work we’re doing,” said Pineda Conde.
The panel also shared promising educator recruitment and retention strategies, such as authentically supporting educators to and through the classroom, building strong school cultures that reflect their communities, creating stronger and sustainable pipelines for educators and leaders, and exuding reverence for our educators.
“We want our teachers to be as healthy as they possibly can and feel supported mentally, physically, and even spiritually so they can be in a better space to work with our kids,” said Dr. Ollison.
Panelists Dr. Perez and Dr. Johnson also discussed the importance of educators, school leadership, and policymakers diving deeper into the trauma and historical inequities our communities face to better meet and exceed the needs of our students.
Dr. Perez touched on adverse childhood experiences, which are traumatic experiences or toxic stressors that children have been exposed to before age 18. Perez shared that children who experience toxic stress daily or regularly experience changes in their body chemistry and physiology and are 32 times more likely to have learning and behavioral issues.
“When we work as communities and support each other with programs that talk about and respond to these stressors that are happening in our kids and families' lives, it is a wonderful opportunity to call it what it is, name it, and then really do something about it,” said Dr. Perez.
Dr. Johnson, who is also a project director at the UCLA Center for the Transformation of Schools, shared his insights on the importance of data-informed decision-making and how community schools are helping to address some of these stressors and equity issues.
“Anywhere you can help bring in the community and empower the community to help support your students is always going to be a solution. Finding ways to link and leverage those opportunities will always be essential and can be supportive to help schools,” said Dr. Johnson.
At the end of the panel discussion, the audience wrapped up the conversation with questions about high tuition costs for aspiring educators, the importance of representation, and how we can help students be curious and excited about the teaching profession.