The Pasco County School Board has adopted a resolution urging the University of South Florida to continue teacher preparation programs at all of the university’s campuses.
Board members adopted the resolution at their Nov. 3 meeting, after they and Superintendent Kurt Browning weighed in on the issue.
“We think that it would just be devastating to our programs across the Tampa Bay area for them to close that program down,” Browning said, noting he had joined superintendents from Pinellas, Hillsborough, Polk, Manatee and Sarasota for a community conversation to discuss USF’s proposal to end the program.
“I don’t think people on the outside of education fully understand the impact that this is going to have on our district,” Browning said. “We are direct recipients of great teachers who come out of USF.”
School board member Alison Crumbley characterized USF’s decision as “short-sighted.”
Like Browning, she said the district relies on USF’s program.
“Thirty percent of our teachers come from USF,” she said. “It’s just a huge disappointment to me, and letdown for the school districts and taxpayers in the Tampa Bay area that this is the situation,” Crumbley said.
Board Chairwoman Colleen Beaudoin, who herself is a teacher, added: “It’s unfortunate that there’s been a decline nationally, in the number of people pursuing degrees in education. That is the root of the problem.
“What we’re discussing here could be a result of the excessive state mandates, testing, evaluation system and lack of respect teachers are given,” she said.
She added those factors could be deterring people from pursuing a career in education, which Beaudoin described as “a noble profession” that creates “lifelong learners and productive citizens.
“Being a teacher is rewarding and fulfilling. I’ll support anything that provides a pathway for students to enter the career,” she said.
School board member Megan Harding, a graduate from the USF College of Education, said she hopes the college will reconsider.
“Not only does this affect teachers, but it’s also going to affect the children,” her Facebook page says. “We already have a teacher shortage.”
Harding read the resolution, which the board adopted.
The resolution notes that Pasco County Schools hires approximately 525 teachers annually, and the USF undergraduate teacher preparation program contributes more than 30% of those teachers. The resolution also points to the existing statewide teacher shortage.
The resolution asserts “USF’s action will harm not only the school districts in the Tampa Bay region, but also the larger communities they serve, including families sending children to our schools and the business communities served by the graduates of our schools.”
The resolution concludes by pledging the Pasco school board’s support for any and all efforts to maintain USF’s undergraduate teacher preparation programs at all of its campuses, and encourages the college to work closely with Pasco County Schools, and other stakeholders and partners to find an alternative to closing the programs.
Browning said the resolution will be forwarded to the president of USF, the provost and acting dean.
Published November 11, 2020