Lessons from the Pandemic: Weaknesses in K-12 Teacher Education Policies Fuel Inequities Facing English Learners

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The COVID-19 pandemic has affected nearly every aspect of education. It is widely expected that English Learners (ELs) will suffer disproportionate impacts from school closures and the subsequent challenges of trying to engage in remote learning. Some of these challenges are rooted in long-standing system weaknesses that fuel inequities facing EL students, such as persistent shortages of EL instructional specialists and insufficient preparation of general education teachers to meet the needs of a growing EL population. With many EL teachers sidelined in the move to remote and socially distanced learning, concerns about whether ELs have meaningful access to the K-12 curriculum are more palpable than at any time since the legal frameworks to safeguard their rights to an equitable education were created.

In this webcast, MPI's Julie Sugarman engaged Hunter College TESOL Professor Laura Baecher, Teach Plus's Roberto J. Rodríguez, and SupportEd's Diane Staehr Fenner in a discussion on the role that weaknesses in existing EL teacher education and professional development policies have played in schools’ uneven response to the pandemic, and lessons for future reform. They also address how pre-service teacher education and in-service professional development for teachers already in the field have adapted to the present circumstances and how district and state policies can better support teacher development and appropriately leverage EL teacher expertise in remote and in-person instructional contexts.

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