The agreement focuses on increasing the number of qualified and diverse teachers in the nation’s most populous state
Loyola Marymount University (LMU) and the leadership development and educational advocacy organization Teach For America (TFA) recently agreed to expand the School of Education’s existing teacher preparation partnership in Los Angeles to California’s Bay Area. The expansion will bolster the shared visions and goals for both organizations: to ensure that every student in California has access to an excellent and equitable education by boosting the number of highly qualified teachers in the state, and by diversifying the teacher pipeline.
TFA first- and second-year teachers (referred to as corps members) make an initial two-year commitment to serve at schools in low-income neighborhoods, and to act as leaders working alongside community members in pursuit of educational equity. Since 1999, LMU School of Education has worked hand in hand with TFA in Los Angeles and other regions of California to offer its signature curricula to corps members, who teach in schools while earning credentials, authorizations, and master’s degrees that enhance their knowledge and expertise. Through this new expansion, LMU will prepare corps members in the Bay Area beginning in summer 2023.
“We’re excited to broaden our engagement with TFA, where together, we’ve already prepared more than 7,400 teachers in California,” says Michelle D. Young, dean of LMU School of Education and advisory board member for TFA Los Angeles. “Teachers prepared through our partnership have continued their careers in education as teachers, administrators, superintendents, and policymakers—together improving the quality of education as well as advancing educational equity. This long-term positive impact was the impetus behind our expanded partnership, and I’m confident that we will make significant progress toward our shared vision and goals.”
By design, TFA’s preparation programs in California target educator positions that are difficult to fill throughout the state and seek out applicants who reflect the communities they will serve. The Bay Area educational programs will include a bilingual teaching authorization for the first time—an essential skill set in a state where more than 1.1 million K-12 students are English language learners. In Los Angeles, most corps members train in the areas of special education and STEM. Teachers specializing in these areas are in significant demand nationwide as well as in the Golden State.
“Our children deserve more teachers who reflect their background, and bring rich lived experiences to better support them academically and holistically,” says Beatrice Viramontes, executive director of TFA Bay Area. “Increasing the number of educators of color in critical subject areas, from bilingual to STEM education, is critical to creating inclusive and rigorous learning environments where children are set up to thrive.”
Both organizations note that creating pathways to bolster teacher retention within the state is an important component to ensuring the quality and equity of education overall.
“As the country’s most populous state, California served some 5.5 million students in the year 2020-21,” says Lida Jennings, executive director of TFA Los Angeles, “All of these students deserve classroom teachers who are well-prepared for and well-supported in their roles, regardless of zip code.” Part of that support, she adds, “stems from highly collaborative partnerships like ours with LMU School of Education, although much more work with policymakers and other stakeholders is needed to ensure that teachers here can afford to enter and continue in the profession.”
“The U.S. is experiencing a significant teacher shortage. This alliance represents a significant effort on behalf of LMU and TFA to prepare high-quality teachers for schools in the state of California,” says LMU Executive Vice President and Provost Thomas Poon. “We are excited to combine our aligned mission and values on these efforts on behalf of all students and families here.”