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Color Photography by Gregg Segal
AT UCLA, THERE ARE SEVERAL AVENUES to a teaching
credential. The core program requires a full-time commitment over
two years to earn a master of education degree and a full credential.
A second program, developed cooperatively with the UCLA math and
science departments, enables undergraduates to complete a bachelor's
degree while simultaneously beginning to meet their credentialing
requirements — the route taken by Morris, who earned UCLA
undergraduate degrees in marine biology and environmental science.
A third provides a path for uncredentialed K-12 teachers to earn
their preliminary credential through 15 months of coursework offered
in the evenings and on weekends.
All three programs aim to prepare teachers for where they are needed
most — urban schools in low-income neighborhoods.
About 12 percent of California's K-12 public school teachers in
2002-'03 were "under-prepared," according to a report
last year by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning,
a Santa Cruz, Calif.-based non-profit organization that explores
ways to strengthen California's teacher workforce. The center defined
under-prepared as those teachers working without having met state
requirements for a preliminary credential, which include a bachelor's
degree, specialized coursework in teaching methods at an accredited
certification program, supervised student-teaching experience and
passage of competency exams. Students in high-poverty areas are
nearly three times as likely to have an under-prepared teacher as
students in more affluent neighborhoods.
"The students who live in our poorest communities, the children
most in need of our best teachers, are assigned to teachers who
are the least prepared to meet their needs," states the report,
which was cosponsored by the University of California and California
State University systems.
To help meet that long-standing need, UCLA education-school administrators
revamped their Teacher Education Program in 1994. Since then, UCLA
has forged partnerships with four subdistricts within LAUSD, as
well as with three other districts: Centinela Valley Union High
School District, Lennox School District and Lynwood Unified School
District. UCLA teachers-in-training perform their classroom observations
and student-teach exclusively at schools in these districts with
high percentages of uncredentialed teachers and students receiving
subsidized lunches (a standard measure of poverty).
"The feeling was, these were the places where teachers were
most needed and where we could make the most difference," says
Aimée Dorr, dean of the Graduate School of Education &
Information Studies. The change also made the Teacher Education
Program consistent with the mission of the graduate school's Center
X, which aims to reform urban education in Los Angeles County through
a research-based, community-focused philosophy guided by social
justice. Says Eloise Lopez Metcalfe '64, M.A. '83, Ph.D. '92, director
of the Teacher Education Program: "We put our teachers where
our rhetoric was."