After a campus protest Thursday, UC Davis School of Education leaders reversed course on a vote to suspend admissions to the Teacher Education Program, graduates of which fill the instructor ranks of area public schools and elsewhere across the state.
In a letter emailed Friday morning to the “School of Education Community,” Lauren E. Lindstrom, the school’s dean and a professor there, said that she and other school administrators “have listened to faculty, staff, and community input and have decided to slow down our process,” referring to a previously announced “major redesign” of the program.
The initially envisioned redesign, which, according Lindstrom, would have disallowed new admissions beginning in the fall of 2021 for a period of one or more years, to give faculty members “the time needed to fully examine and re-imagine the program.”
But in the Friday email, she indicated the suspension would have been for only one year, not one or more.
Instead, she and others will not put “this question to a faculty vote at this time,” adding that, instead, the educators will engage in “a deliberative and collaborative process for deciding if admissions need to be suspended during the redesign process, or if there are satisfactory alternative approaches.”
Said Lindstrom, “Admissions will stay open, and we will welcome our next cohort of credential students in summer 2021.”
At press time Friday, she had not returned a request for additional comment and neither had Margarita Jimenez-Silva, director of the UCD Teacher Education Program.
It is unclear what determined the administrators’ change of heart and Thursday’s pending tenured faculty vote on the matter, but program graduate Irina S. Okhremtchouk said some 100 faculty members, alumni, current students, and teacher-lecturers held a rally outside the Shields Avenue school.
“The news is good,” agreed Okhremtchouk, a former teacher in the program and an associate professor of educational administration and coordinator of educational administration credential and the master’s degree program at San Francisco State University.
In an email to The Reporter earlier in the week, she called teacher education programs, which send student-teachers into classrooms before they graduate, “the heart and soul of ANY School of Education” and compared the proposed suspension of admissions for a period of time “like closing a medical unit at a hospital for renovations four a couple of years in the middle of a pandemic.”
She said the initial proposal, sent in an Oct. 9 email to area public school administrators, did not make sense “and will hurt the field that is already hurting so much,” and, in a brief interview Friday, Okhremtchouk, a former Dixon Unified trustee, referred to the ongoing teacher shortage in Solano, surrounding counties and throughout California.
As for the Teacher Education Program’s redesign, Lindstrom and Jimenez-Silva, in the email sent to Solano and other county school administrators, wrote, “Our mission of addressing educational inequities will not change. Among our priorities will be better integrating our innovative research into our curriculum, expanding and deepening the ways we prepare our graduates to address institutional racism, and increasing the use of digital tools for teaching and learning.”
In the meantime, however, clinical faculty who teach in the program will not see their jobs suspended for one year, noted Okhremtchouk.