Pennsylvania Department of Education Secretary Pedro Rivera announced on Nov. 20 a new pilot program, Aspiring to Educate (A2E), that aims to cultivate and diversify Philadelphia’s educator pool. The pilot, which is the first of its kind in the nation, is a partnership between the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE), the School District of Philadelphia (SDP), local education and youth organizations, and seven area colleges and universities, including Arcadia.
Rivera, who earned his superintendent’s letter of eligibility from Arcadia in 2005, noted how Aspiring to Educate will help the Commonwealth attract, recruit, train, and retain a new generation of teachers and school leaders.
“Aspiring to Educate will not only help the Commonwealth address the shortage of educators and the lack of diversity in the teacher pipeline, but will also provide a career pathway for students into the teaching profession.”
Under the program, the SDP will identify at least 20 juniors or seniors, in its first round of funding, who excel academically and have expressed an interest in becoming teachers. The district and students will work with the partnering institutions to develop specific plans for each student to enroll at one of the schools. Once enrolled, students will receive financial assistance for their postsecondary education through a combination of free or reduced tuition offered by the partnering institution.
“It is wonderful to see the energy of multiple higher education institutions and community development organizations coalesce around long-standing inequity in the teaching profession—the recruitment and retainment of people of color into teacher preparation programs,” said Dr. Marc Brasof, associate professor of Education and director of Secondary Social Studies and English Education at Arcadia University. “The state’s A2E program is a tangible step in reducing systemic hurdles by funding several pathways young people of color interested in education can take advantage of. And, mentorship and curricular revisions are built into these pathways to help cultivate interest.”
Dr. Brasof is the Rosemary and Walter Blankley Endowed Chair at Arcadia for 2019-2022. His work will help to ensure that the secondary education program is set up to train the next generation of teachers to lead cultivating culturally and linguistically diverse classrooms.
Arcadia’s School of Education will work closely this year on mentoring A2E students in the Cheltenham School District and the SDP into its secondary education Social Action and Justice Educator Fellowship (SAJE), which is designed to address financial, curricular, and social hurdles that discourage students of color from entering and eventually graduating from teacher education programs.