The supply of well-trained teachers who want to work in urban schools serving poor children is limited. The turnover is high. And, as a result, the outcome for students is often predictably inconsistent.
To try to address those issues, the Los Angeles Unified School District, the school of education at Cal State Dominguez Hills and the Los Angeles Educational Partnership are taking the training of teachers right to the campuses of six elementary schools just south of downtown.
"Our goal is to build stability in there, so that new people who come in feel more confident and competent," said Judy Johnson, associate director of the organization, a nonprofit group that raises money to increase the expertise of teachers.
About 20% of the teachers in Los Angeles County are working under emergency permits, meaning that they have not completed a state-required regimen of classes. The percentage is often much higher in schools serving minority children, and has been linked to lower performance on state academic tests.
Funding for the project, which will involve 75 teachers over a three-year period beginning this fall, is from a $300,000 grant from the Stuart Foundation.
The participants in the program are college graduates who are new to teaching. Over a period of a year, they will take courses from Cal State professors at their own school campus or one nearby.
"They'll review what's working, what's not working, so they're not just learning theory that's unrelated to their day-to-day teaching experience," Johnson said.