#MoreLearningLessDebt: Voices of Aspiring Teachers on Why Money Matters
Prepared to Teach, Bank Street College of Education
This report delves into a 2019-2020 survey that Prepared To Teach conducted at twelve institutions across seven states and explores aspiring teachers’ financial burdens with a specific focus on the link between said burdens and the desire for strong teacher preparation programs that include clinical practice. Learn about the many daily anxieties that aspiring teachers face, the difficult choices they are often forced to make in order to pursue their passion for teaching, and the impact this has on the quality and diversity of teacher candidates. Finally, find out why the future of the teaching profession depends on improving access to quality preparation programs by ensuring that aspiring teachers are supported financially in their journey to becoming the best-prepared educators they can be.
Most aspiring teachers are faced with an unfair choice between financial security and quality preparation. For aspiring teachers who want strong preparation that includes extended clinical experiences working alongside accomplished practitioners, many are not financially able to support themselves without working and have no good options for paying for their certifications. They can take on more debt, work jobs in addition to coursework and clinical requirements, or struggle with food and housing insecurity. Of course, none of these options allow them the time and mental space to engage their clinical practice with the kind of depth they need to become effective teachers. Future teachers need time to learn. And once they are teachers,they need to be free from unreasonable worries about debt.
Anecdotal stories from across the country share unrealistic expectations for and the unsustainable lives of aspiring teachers who cannot financially support themselves during unpaid clinical practice—which is the norm across the country. At a national level, data to help illuminate the extent of this crisis is scarce at best. Analyses of the negative economic incentives for attracting and retaining strong teachers generally focus on hired teachers’ salaries, whether compared to other professions or in relationship to debt levels, or both. These metrics are important, since compensation affects districts’ ability to attract and retain strong teachers. Another piece of the economic picture is less visible but also crucial for teacher quality: the costs associated with required clinical experiences for becoming a teacher.