Where was Community College Teacher Education 20 years ago and where do we see its role today?
In 2003, I had just moved to Arizona and started my job as director of Community Partnerships at the National Center for Teacher Education in the Maricopa Community Colleges. The role of community colleges in developing teachers was one that was emerging and becoming more recognized. This was truly a time of promotion, sharing, education, and advocacy. Community colleges were looking for guidance and support in developing their teacher education program. This is where NACCTEP excelled!
It was inspiring to see the collaboration among community colleges across the country, each one trying to identify the best way to serve their students and communities. This was made evident at our NACCTEP conferences and local state conferences. NACCTEP served a critical role in bringing together existing and developing community college teacher education programs to share ideas and information. The annual legislative visits to Washington, DC further solidified the need to advocate and promote community college teacher education programs. Each year we had to reinforce our message with policymakers and committee leaders.
In 2007, I became the director of the National Center for Teacher Education and the executive director for NACCTEP. While progress had been made, we were still very much in advocacy and education mode. So much so, that we created the 10 Myths and Realities of Community College Teacher Education Programs document. This was the most requested and popular NACCTEP publication. Looking back on just the first three items in the document, you could see the type of topics we were addressing:
Myth 1: Community colleges do not play a role in the preparation of teachers
Myth 2: Community college teacher education programs have been in existence for only a few years.
Myth 3: Future teachers cannot complete their post-baccalaureate education at a community college.
Twenty years ago at the Maricopa Community College, the expansion of teacher education to all 10 colleges was beginning to take place. Fast forward to now, beginning in the fall of 2023, one of our colleges will be offering a Bachelor of Arts (BA), Early Childhood Education: Dual Language degree and three will be offering Bachelor of Arts (BA), Elementary Education and Special Education degrees. A lot has changed.
I believe community colleges will continue to play a key role in developing teachers. However, their role must continue to evolve to support current needs, communities, and students. Much has changed in the past 20 years and much more will change in the next 20.