(pictured above: Wisconsin educator Tim Vedra (left) and California educator Harold Acord)
by Brian Washington
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Educators are using their personal experiences to help Members of Congress figure out the best ways to make sure that all public school students have a caring, qualified, and committed educator.
On Tuesday, Tim Vedra, a 4th grade teacher from Beloit, Wisconsin, and Harold Acord, a high school German and Spanish teacher from Moreno Valley, California, both took part in a congressional briefing about the national teacher shortage. It was sponsored by Representatives Mark Takano (CA) and Mark Pocan (WI).
Here is some of what Acord and Vedra had to say to lawmakers:
The dwindling number of candidates for certification who enroll in teacher preparation programs each year reflects this. Our nation’s teacher/educator workforce does not reflect the diversity of the students whom we teach. We can and should do more to recruit and retain a diverse teacher/educator workforce. In order to create and keep a diverse pool of teacher candidates we need to begin early during an undergraduate’s education to provide opportunities for gaining experience in educational settings. Experiences in the field should take place early and often. It is important to offer an undergraduate teacher preparation with early field experience. –Harold Acord, Moreno, CA
The attack on public education in Wisconsin has left professional educators feeling demoralized. Without collective bargaining, educators have little input into school decisions that impact students and little stability in what their pay and working conditions are. Due to this instability, students are facing a revolving door of teachers in our schools as professional educators choose to retire, move to another district that is wealthier and can afford higher salaries for its employees, or leave the profession altogether for another career. Our students are the ones who suffer with this turnover as they deserve to have the best and brightest in their classrooms year after year.—Tim Vedra, Beloit, WI
The briefing was held in anticipation of the reauthorization of the Higher Education Act, which should bring issues like the nation’s teacher shortage to the forefront of the public debate.