Closing out the newsletter, this month our industry spotlight focuses on the Teacher Preparation & Education sector. Thank you, to Kathleen White, the Bay Area Community College Consortium TPP RJV Lead, who shared her view of how the industry has been impacted during this time.
Q: What comprises the Teacher Preparation (TPP) & Education sector?
The TPP & Education sector includes the school-based and educational workforce, representing educational settings serving children and youth in early childhood (ECE), elementary school, middle school, high school and community-based settings. Due to the need for articulated pathways, especially in CTE, the sector increasingly includes community college faculty.
Q: What is the status of the TPP & Education sector in the Bay Region right now?
We began 2020 with much reason for optimism, and the pandemic dashed these hopes overnight. The TPP & Education sector is now in a state of disarray and faces multiple contradictions.
Early federal definitions of the "essential workforce" did not include teachers or childcare providers at any level. However, most teachers were employed and abruptly expected to pivot to remote teaching and a distance education format. This transition was difficult and inadequate in our region at best.
Childcare teachers were defined as "essential supports for the essential workforce." Failure to include childcare or school teachers as part of the “essential workforce” further undermined the teaching workforce, as many essential workers received pay increases and differentials for working during a pandemic, while workers who were essential supports did not.
Employees in childcare have been unemployed or underemployed and the childcare system is in a state of crisis. ECE, extended learning and summer program teachers and staff are unemployed in significant numbers in the region. This has significantly impacted younger workers. Summer school and programming options were limited and as teachers of younger children tend to be female, they also experienced childcare and supervision challenges for their own children.
Current K-12 job openings do not reflect these vacancies yet, as schools also "lost" students during the shift, so true student enrollment counts are not yet clear. Experienced, highly skilled teachers will be needed to address trauma from the disruption, family supports and academic gaps.
Q: What employers (or types of employers) are hiring right now? What occupations are in demand?
Families with resources are hiring nannies and in-home providers, and often requiring ECE/CDEV or teaching experience. Jobs that did not exist even in February 2020 are being created daily, for example: "Zoom-school supervisor", "floating pod- teacher" or "pandemic -pod leader."
Early childhood education programs have resumed hiring (mostly to replace workers who cannot return due to age or health conditions) as other programs struggle to make payroll with lower capacities and higher ratios. Unemployed staff believe they will be called back to work when things return to "normal".
Teaching, administrative and staff vacancies in both the K-12 and community college systems seem temporarily suppressed, due to the reasons outlined above. Additionally, districts could not make informed hiring decisions as an extreme reduction in the state budget, combined with the delay in distance education decisions as well as an inability to accurately predict student enrollment numbers all led to delays in hiring. The labor market data in 2021 will be more reflective of the need, as schools struggle with lay-offs and predictive hiring in an unpredictable environment.
Childcare programs in the region are slowly hiring and rehiring as programs begin to reopen, however, current health guidelines related to social distancing are keeping programs under-capacity and financially insolvent.
If I had a crystal ball, I would predict an exodus in 2021 of teachers to retirement and an influx of newer teachers inspired by the call for social justice, and the need for educational reforms and deep social change. We need students of color and students with deep community knowledge to commit to teaching at all levels in our region. We need students from our own community college classrooms to decide to teach.
Q: What are some strategies the TPP & Education sector is taking to help train students or re-train workers in your sector?
Organized colleges are offering late-start classes to ensure that the early childhood education workforce can be prepared. Additionally, classes on health practices, social distancing, classroom sanitation and COVID are being offered. Capstone laboratory classes have shifted to include online observations and sequences.
Additional content on social media, Zoom, distance learning, remote teaching, computer skills and modifying content will be needed for future and current teachers, and parents.
Over 16 communities of practice were held over the summer specifically for ECE and Education faculty within the Bay Region and statewide, to ensure that students engaged in distance learning were receiving adequate, curated training opportunities despite being restricted from actual classroom settings. Canvas shells were created, websites developed and strategies for remote learning were presented. A range of faculty mobilized throughout the state to provide peer support. During the summer of 2020, teachers met to ensure that students at all levels had improved experiences in the fall semester.
Q: Can you tell us about some projects you are working on with schools/colleges?
A free, one-week virtual conference, "Teach for the Bay," will be offered on October 5th to 9th, 2020 for students interested in teaching careers. Workshop participants will include representatives from the 18 BACCC community colleges participating in the Teacher Preparation Pipeline RJV, as well as other institutions of higher education, state agencies and educational resource experts. For more information, visit: https://www.teachforthebay.com/
Additionally, we recently published "Community College & High School Career Technical Education (CTE) Teacher Shortages in the SF Bay Region," which details the current shortage of faculty and high school teachers that impacts community colleges and their ability to expand critical pathways, especially in this time of high unemployment and training demand.