Magazine article Techniques

FILLING THE EDUCATOR PIPELINE: National Partnership to Recruit, Prepare and Support Family and Consumer Sciences Educators

Magazine article Techniques

FILLING THE EDUCATOR PIPELINE: National Partnership to Recruit, Prepare and Support Family and Consumer Sciences Educators

Article excerpt

The United States is facing a critical educator shortage in career and technical education (CTE). The demand for CTE classroom teachers is far greater than the supply of individuals entering educator preparation programs. The shortage results in educator positions going unfilled and, too often, in program closures. When programs are closed, the future of CTE is threatened; enough so that Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) and colleagues recognized the CTE educator shortage when they introduced the Creating Quality Technical Educators Act, a bill designed to encourage and support future educators.

What can be done about recruiting, preparing and supporting CTE teachers? Is it possible to be innovative and collaborative in an approach to resolve the issue? The answer is YES!

The family and consumer sciences (FCS) profession has documented a national need for increasing the number of FCS educators for the workforce. The nationwide closure of 153 FCS educator preparation programs (Hall & Miller, 1989; National Coalition for FCS Education, 2015) has disadvantaged individuals who want to join the FCS workforce and employers who want to fill vacant FCS educator positions. This article highlights a collaborative national project that offers resources for states and local districts to use to address the educator shortage. Further, the national partnership makes it possible to replicate recruitment efforts and high-quality teacher preparation strategies in other CTE content areas.

Assessing the Need

Articles in the popular press support the role FCS serves in addressing pressing societal challenges by emphasizing the need for the resurgence of FCS education (Gould, 2014; Graham, 2013; Harvey, 2018; Kemp-Jackson, 2016; Tapp, 2017). A well-trained workforce is critical to offering FCS education programs to communities. As reported in the Journal of Family and Consumer Sciences, Werhan (2013) identified a 26 percent decrease in the number of FCS educators over the past 10 years. Data from the American Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (AAFCS) (2015) indicates that there is a documented and increasing shortage of FCS educators in secondary education, higher education and extension education.

Gutter & Stephenson (2016) specifically described the nationwide need for qualified FCS educators with a broad background and understanding of the body of knowledge in extension programs. The number of institutions offering FCS educator preparation programs has declined sharply in the last 30 years. In 1984, there were 261 FCS educator preparation programs in the United States (Hall & Miller, 1989). According to information provided by the National Coalition for FCS Education (2015), that number had dropped to 108 by 2015. Thirteen states no longer offer baccalaureate FCS educator preparation programs, and the low number of students enrolled in the remaining baccalaureate FCS education programs cannot fill the numerous openings (Werhan, 2013). As a result, many school districts have either closed FCS programs or hired educators through alternative routes.

The National Association of State Administrators of Family and Consumer Sciences (NASAFACS) expressed great concern about the shortage, identified the need for comprehensive educator recruitment efforts, and adopted the Say Yes to FCS campaign in 2014 (Randel & Spavone, 2016). More than 300 FCS colleagues convened in June of 2015, 2016 and 2017 at national leadership summits to further develop and advance the campaign through a national strategic plan.

Summit participants included representatives from state departments of education, school districts, educator preparation programs, university administration, extension services, professional associations and industry partners. Summit participants received data defining the status of the FCS educator shortage. Following the data briefing, participants worked together to discuss and create national strategic initiatives to address the shortage and to enhance the recruitment, preparation and retention support needed for FCS educators entering the workforce. …

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