INITIAL STEPS IN ADDRESSING THE TEACHER SHORTAGE
The Learning Policy Institute’s recent report “Addressing California’s Emerging Teacher Shortage: An Analysis of Sources and Solutions” found that California is facing an emerging teacher shortage. Reasons for this teacher shortage range from economic concerns, dissatisfaction with teaching conditions and the lack of public appreciation.
Understanding the Demand
The report stated that although shortages are occurring across a range of subject areas, the problem is most acute in mathematics, science and special education. There is also a shortage of bilingual teachers and those with training to teach English language acquisition. The absence of qualified teachers is felt especially in public schools serving more low-income and minority students.
The demand for well-prepared, high-quality, bilingual/multilingual teachers is expected to
increase further due to attrition; retirements (one-third of California’s teachers are over 50 years old and 10 percent are over 60 years old), high turnover especially among younger teachers leaving, and increased interest in providing multilingual opportunities for students (such as dual-language immersion programs).
California Teacher Corps Act of 2016
In response to some of the recommendations contained in the report, the Legislature introduced several bills and budget appropriations to address the teacher shortage issue. The bills focused on recruitment of persons into the teaching profession, affordable induction programs, creating pathways for classified school employees to enter the teaching profession. Only one bill continues through the legislative process and it is:
This bill enacts the California Teacher Corps Act of 2016 under which the Superintendent of Public Instruction would make grants to applicant local educational agencies and consortia of local educational agencies to assist these agencies in establishing, maintaining, or expanding teacher residency programs, as defined. The teacher residency programs established by the bill would be defined as school-based teacher preparation programs, in which a prospective teacher would teach alongside an experienced mentor teacher, as defined, while also receiving teacher training instruction in a teacher credentialing program in a qualified institution of higher education.
The bill would also establish eligibility standards for persons who apply for participation in the teacher residency programs established by the bill. Please note that the bill does specifically state that the teacher residency program, among other requirements, is to seek out individuals who meet the hiring needs of the LEA for difficult to fill areas, such as chronic teacher shortage areas, such as special education, bilingual teachers and hard-to-staff schools. Additionally, the program is to produce culturally responsive teachers who address specific student populations. Sixty million dollars from the General Fund is appropriated, on a one-time basis, for 2016-17,2017-18 & 2018-19 to make grants to LEAs and consortia of LEAs, as specified, for the purposes of this bill. SB 933 (Allen) is in the Assembly Appropriations Committee waiting to be acted upon by the Committee.
How is this bill funded?
The Legislature included, and the Governor approved, the following items in the 2017-18 State Budget Act addressing the teacher shortage issue.
- $20 million for grants for teacher’s aides and other school employees to pursue a teaching credential.
- $10 million for grants for colleges and universities to establish an integrated or blended teacher preparation program providing a bachelor’s degree and teaching credentials in four years.
- $5 million for re-establishing and funding the California Center on Teaching Careers, a recruitment and marketing effort for individuals interested in becoming teachers.
Where can I find out more?
Details on how the funding is to be implemented can be found in the budget trailer bill SB 828 (Chapter 29, Statutes of 2019).
While service scholarships or forgivable loans to underwrite teachers’ preparation or incentives that support teachers’ ability to stay in the profession still need to be discussed as effective strategies to address the teacher shortage, the budget and bill are great first steps in attempting to ameliorate the teacher shortage and at least highlights the need for more bilingual teachers.