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California Running Out of Teachers?
posted by: Alix | December 20, 2010, 02:29 PM   

The face of the teacher workforce is changing dramatically. The fact is over the next ten years over half of current teachers in America will be retiring. In California the situation is even more dire as the number of Californians seeking to become teachers has plummeted 45% in the last seven years according to a new report released last week by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning.

This is a sobering fact when enrollment of students is expected to rise by 230,000 over the next ten years with over 100,000 teachers projected to retire in the same time period.

Teaching is obviously becoming a less and less desirable profession for Californians looking to start careers. According to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, the number of students enrolled in teacher preparation programs has declined from 77,705 in 2001-02 to 42,245 in 2008-09.

"The disinvestment in building a top quality teacher workforce is at odds with rising demands for students' academic success. The fiscal crisis has so severely damaged the pipeline for recruiting and training new teachers that teaching quality may be put at risk for many years to come," the report warned.

Education reformers, politicians and school officials have been calling for more accountability in teachers, but what if there are not enough teachers to fill the positions in the future? This is certainly something decision makers in California need to keep in mind as they face a "critical tension between expectations and resources."

How does the state attract bright young people to the teaching profession when the state is in such a financial crisis? Due to budget cuts, teachers are expected to do more with less, typically teaching in larger classes with fewer support staff. All of this comes on top of reductions in salaries and heavy lay-offs. Is this a crisis they are equipped to deal with in this economy?

What do you think of the report? Could the situation in California apply to your state soon?
Comment below.

Comments (2)Add Comment
written by joan Westfield MA, December 20, 2010

Of course the situation could happen in MA. We, as a profession, are always under attack by both political parties. We are do nothing right. The "facts" used against us are many times incorrect but the public doesn't seem to care. Who would let their children grow up to be teachers?
too smart to teach in CA
written by Bruce, Lakeland, FL, December 20, 2010

I think anyone who would invest in a teaching career in California probably isn't smart enough to teach my kids.

My state of Florida faces some of the problems, but not even close to the same degree as California. In my district, our pay was frozen for a couple years. But, we haven't had to go without pay, and we haven't suffered layoffs.

New teachers in Florida are given the choice of going into the old pension system, or going into an "investment plan," which operates like a 401k.

I chose the investment plan because I was vested in 1 year (instead of 5), as a young person, I could probably do better on my own (I invested in 100% foreign stocks and have done well for the 4 years I've been teaching), and I lose nothing if I leave the teaching profession early (pensions are only valuable after long careers).

Unfortunately, Florida has a new Republican governor and Republican legislature (I'm libertarian) who want to totally overhaul the way teachers are evaluated, paid and retained/fired. They want to eliminate tenure (professional services contracts), make pay largely based on test scores (with no consideration of experience or education), and make renewal of teaching certifications contingent upon student test scores.

The bill passed last year's legislature and was vetoed by the current governor, who is on his way out. If the bill is reintroduced and passes, I think Florida will find itself at least as undesirable as California...just for different reasons.

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