Profiles in Advocacy: Ensuring World Language Teacher Quality in California

STATE OF THE STATES BLOG SERIES

Guest blogger and Advocacy Chair of the California Language Teachers' Association, Tom Beeman, offers insights on the association's recent advocacy efforts in the state.

The California Language Teachers' Association (CLTA) and its members believe that a quality language education begins with qualified language instructors. Recently, CLTA spearheaded a campaign to reword a controversial piece of legislation regarding charter schools in the state that would have negatively affected "non-core subjects" like World Language and Special Education courses.


Assembly Bill 1505, or "Charter Schools Petitions and Renewal," was a bill brought before the California Legislature during the most recent session to establish specific regulations for teachers working in public charter schools. AB 1505 would have required that only those teaching "Core Subjects" be required to obtain a valid California Teaching Credential. Excluded would have been World Language and Special Education instructors.


One of the supporters of this bill proposed loosening the hiring requirements to allow for professionals with years of experience in the industry to be able to teach because their experience would qualify them to teach their particular subject and, therefore, they shouldn't need to obtain a credential.


However, The California Language Teachers' Association opposed AB 1505 in its original form because the credentialing of teachers is a cornerstone of a safe and effective public school system. Teaching credentialing ensures that students receive instruction from teachers who have undergone full background checks, and whose knowledge of subject matter, pedagogy, and ability to meet the needs of our diverse student population has been assessed and verified.


CLTA enlisted the assistance of its members to participate in an advocacy campaign.  Members who live in the districts represented by members of the Senate Education Committee contacted those Senators requesting the bill's wording be changed so that all subjects be required to be taught by a credentialed teacher. 


As a result of the efforts of CLTA, the other educational organizations, and the assistance of Governor Gavin Newsom, a compromise was reached and the bill was changed so that all public charter school teachers would be required to be credentialed in the subject area in which they wish to teach.  Non-credentialed teachers hired during the 2019-2020 school year would have a five year grace period in which to obtain the appropriate credential. The bill was signed in to law by Governor Gavin Newsom on October 3, 2019.


CLTA is a supporting member of JNCL-NCLIS.


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