Virginia Capitol Connections Winter 2022

Virginia Capitol Connections, Winter 2022 26 Teaching Future Teachers By JEFF DAVIS It’s hard to believe that we are already in the midst of the holiday season—where did the year go? Our organization, the Virginia Association of Colleges and Teacher Educators, (VACTE) was busier than ever in 2021—unifying its two state member groups and setting out a list of five top priorities that focus on helping Virginia’s educational community in a number of ways. Back in October, members of theVirginia Association of Colleges of Teacher Education (representing schools of education) and the Association of Teacher Educators inVirginia (representing individual teacher educators) merged their organizations into one–VACTE. We had always previously been ‘One Voice for Teacher Education’ and now we are indeed one organization, speaking to our state legislators and other officials with collegiality and clarity. VACTE members are excited about the upcoming session of the General Assembly, and we’re eager to talk with legislators about our top five priorities for the year ahead! Our number one priority, one that impacts so many other aspects of education inVirginia, is to dramatically improve teacher pay across the board. We want to raise teachers’ pay to at least the national average, and make it comparable to what Virginia workers with similar levels of education and training earn. We want to eliminate the compensation gap between teachers and other college-educated workers in Virginia! This will help our state recruit new teachers, retain our experienced educators, and help us continue to be a top destination for businesses well into the 21st century. Priority number two is the elimination of unnecessary and expensive test requirements for teacher licensure in Virginia. These tests have not been shown to increase teacher effectiveness in the classroom. In fact, they act as a barrier to entering the teaching profession due to their cost. They also negatively impact school divisions’ and colleges’ efforts to diversify the teaching workforce, which is so important in today’s PreK-12 schools. Our third priority is working for increased student loan forgiveness. We will ask our legislators to implement and support student loan reform legislation, including the Student Loan Bill of Rights and the Student Loan Ombudsman. We would like to see the Virginia Teaching Scholarship Loan program expanded, and we want the state to expand loan forgiveness and incentive programs for students who choose to teach, especially in this time of severe teacher shortages. Fourth, our colleges and schools of education, along with the Virginia Department of Education, have long been in need of a statewide database for teacher licensure and evaluation.We have all gotten by for many years with antiquated systems and paper forms but it is time to make the process of licensure more streamlined and bring our state into the 21st century. A statewide database would make the licensure process more efficient, would save school and VDOE staff time, and would provide important performance data about Virginia’s teachers (which would in turn help improve our schools of education and their programs). Finally, we will be asking for multiple options for the accreditation of our schools of education. Currently, the state’s agreement with the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP) is our sole option for accreditation. We have struggled for the past several years with both the high cost of documenting our work for CAEP as well as its sometimes confusing and contradictory guidance. Our schools of education should be able to collaborate with an accreditor that has clear standards and supports our goals for teacher education. We need options that respond to the teacher shortage and offer opportunities to diversify the teacher pipeline. It’s a long list, but one that reflects the importance of educators’ work with our PreK-12 students, and one that will have significant impact in alleviating our severe teacher shortage. We look forward to meeting with our local legislators, sharing more about what we do and why these priorities are so urgent, and asking them to help make these changes now to benefitVirginia teachers and students for years to come. To our colleagues in classrooms and school divisions across Virginia, thank you so much for the important work you do every day! Have a very happy NewYear, everyone! Jeff Davis is the Director of Clinical Practice and Partnerships Teacher Education Office, Department of Curriculum, Instruction, and Special Education.V Connect with the Governor & Cabinet Members, Legislators and Staff. Access the latest news, political calendars, videos, publications, and much more! Download Our App