A closer look at the critical teacher shortage in california

Teachers seem to be at the top of many children's lists of what they want to be when they grow up. Boys and girls see the effect of an effective educator first hand and therefore look up to their teachers. With time college comes around, however, things have changed.

While education is consistently listed among the most popular college majors for women, it is often edged out by fields like business, computer science, economics and nursing on top majors lists for the entire student population. This pattern emerged on the other side of the great recession as a growing problem for U.S. School districts. As we emerged from this economic downturn, a nationwide shortage of qualified teachers loomed – and it has only gotten worse over the years.

In fact, a recent report found more than 100.000 teachers in the U.S. Are not "fully qualified to teach."In areas such as math, science, and special education, nearly every state is experiencing severe teacher shortages. But certain states, including california, were hit harder by this education crisis.

Join us for a closer look at the national teacher shortage, dive into california's teacher shortage, and explore what's being done to address this critical problem.

What you should know about the national teacher shortage?

While it can often be difficult to see when a subject's decline began, locating the cause of the national teacher shortage in the U.S. Takes us right back to the great recession – which officially spanned from december 2007 to june 2009.

During and after the recession, school districts across the country, faced with declining tax revenues, were forced to reduce their teacher workforce in a variety of ways. Some educators lost their jobs, while pay cuts and changing work conditions caused others to leave the profession. In fact, a significant portion of teachers who leave their positions do so for reasons other than retirement.

And while teacher turnover has increased, we've seen an overall decline in college students enrolling in education programs. Between 2009 and 2014, enrollment in teacher education programs dropped by a staggering 35 percent. The learning policy institute notes that the supply of incoming educators is atypically low and steadily declining.

This has led to schools relying on short-term or long-term substitutes and emergency teachers. Such problem workarounds can provide temporary solutions for districts hardest hit by the national teacher shortage, but these alternative teaching paths can lead to less effective educators.

What is being done at the national level?

Lawmakers in many states have taken the initiative to raise teacher salaries and offer other incentives to potential educators. The learning policy institute report points to initiatives such as loan forgiveness programs, teacher residencies, new mentoring initiatives for teachers, and improved administrative support. This is all in an effort to develop stronger teacher retention, which can have a significant impact on student outcomes.

For some districts, this includes partnering with their team of emergency teachers to offer both support and resources to help them maintain their formal credentials. These education professionals were often substitute teachers or paraprofessionals who had not obtained the necessary teaching certification or license to teach full time.

What you should know about the teacher shortage in california?

As the most populous state in the country, it's no surprise that california has the largest number of public school students in the nation. But the state is having a hard time keeping up. One study found that 80 percent of california school districts reported a shortage of qualified teachers for the 2017-18 school year. Nine out of 10 districts claimed shortages were worse than the previous school year.

But the teacher shortage has hit california hardest in the special education field. In fact, two out of three special education teachers hired in 2016-17 had substandard credentials. And yet, nearly eight in 10 california schools need teachers trained in special education.

As in the rest of the country, california's most significant obstacle to overcoming this education crisis is the high rate of teacher turnover. It's true that teacher turnover is driving demand for new teachers. In fact, about one-third of california's teachers are nearing retirement. Against this backdrop, the center for the future of teaching and learning estimates that over the next decade, the state will need an additional 100.000 teachers will need.

With this in mind, the state of california has allocated about $200 million since 2014 to address statewide shortages and has implemented some notable changes since the recession. And while california's enrollment in teacher preparation programs has increased slightly overall, that increase has not been enough to solve the problem.

What is being done in california?

California lawmakers have devoted more resources to education in recent years to increase the number of qualified teacher candidates produced in the state. These efforts included the following:

  • Provided $45 million to help existing school staff become credentialed teachers.
  • $10 million has been poured into new undergraduate teacher education programs.
  • $5 million went toward opening the california center on teaching careers.
  • 9 million was spent on district-specific recruitment and retention efforts.
  • 5 million dollars went to the bilingual teacher training program.

It is also true that california has made an effort to offer educators higher salaries than most other states. While the average annual salary for school teachers nationwide is 57.949, california teachers earn an average annual salary of 77.$429 – making california teachers the third highest paid in the country.

Despite all these important steps in the right direction, experts agree that more could be done. They are proposing to loosen restrictions requiring additional testing and coursework for out-of-state teachers, offer district-wide initiatives such as credit recovery, and implement school-specific programs to recruit, train and support staff and community members who may be interested in teaching.

How to make the most of teacher shortages

While the teacher shortage means there is still much work to be done, efforts to address this education crisis are promising for aspiring classroom teachers. That means there are ways to see the shortage as an opportunity to teach hopefuls.

Highly qualified candidates seeking teaching positions in areas with significant shortages may find that they can be a little more selective about the jobs they apply for to ensure they find a teaching job they are happy with, rather than taking the first opportunity they come across. It is also true that being highly qualified in a shortage area can put you in a stronger bargaining position, as schools may need your qualifications more than they need your employment.

There may also be financial benefits to stepping up to the plate as a qualified teacher in a shortage area. If you choose a high-need content area or teach in a high-need school district, you may find that you qualify for perks like signing bonuses or college loan forgiveness.

Could you be the teacher students desperately need??

It's clear that the teacher shortage in california and the statewide deficit have become an education crisis where lawmakers and community members agree that quick solutions are needed. Unfortunately, this is a big task, which is associated with political decisions. As steps are taken to address persistent problems, there is ample opportunity for aspiring educators to.

If you're attracted to the idea of teaching, your commitment to the profession could make a tangible difference in the lives of students in desperate need of a quality education. As you venture through your decision-making process, it may be helpful to review some of the reasons experienced educators have chosen this career path. Read our article "why become a teacher? 4 reasons to pursue a career in the classroom" to learn more.