Thursday, July 9, 2015

SoCal schools face a teacher shortage

Southern California school districts are facing what Donna Glassman-Sommer, a Tulare County Office of Education administrator, calls "the perfect storm" - a combination of teachers going into retirement, a decline of enrollment in teaching credential programs, and increased state funding for new hires.

The 2013-2014 annual report from the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing shows that enrollment in teacher preparation courses has been in a steady decline for twelve consecutive years, with the number of new teachers down 26% over the last five years. One reason for this are budget cuts that have driven several experienced teachers from the field and students in teacher preparation programs to change majors.

In order to combat the lack of recruitable credentialed teachers, some schools turn to teacher interns and substitutes. While interns usually have a bachelor's degree, teacher training, and no classroom experience, substitute teachers must be enrolled in a four-year California university/college with at least ninety units completed. With these empty spots filled for the time being, districts still worry about filling classrooms with fully credentialed teachers. “I think it's especially going to be urgent coming July in 2016 as we see all of the baby boomers, we would like to say, retiring and deciding to move on to another part of their life,” Patricia Pernin, president of California Teacher Corps, said.

There does seem to be good news for Southern California schools, though - incoming college freshmen have expressed a greater interest in teaching, and report noticing that the job market in education is getting better. Schools remain hopeful for this next generation of tech-savvy and Common Core trained teachers - but for the time being, continue searching for teachers for the upcoming school year.

To learn more, check out the original article, "SoCal schools may see more interns, substitutes in classrooms as teacher shortage grows,"by Mary Plummer for Southern California Public Radio.

Two of Project Tomorrow's initiatives, YouthTEACH2Learn and the California Future Educators Association (F.E.A.), work to combat the issue of the teacher shortage.

YouthTEACH2Learn is a career exploration program where students explore teaching as a career. During the course, the students gain practical experience by observing elementary school classrooms, learning how to teach, developing and teaching standards-based lessons to younger students in neighboring elementary schools and participating in local community service projects. In addition, students also have the opportunity to meet local educators, attend career panels and visit local college campuses in order to determine if the teaching is a "good-fit" for their professional goals. To learn more about YouthTEACH2Learn, visit http://www.tomorrow.org/programs/yt2l.html.

California F.E.A. encourages students to learn about careers in education and aid them in exploring teaching while providing meaningful opportunities to receive the mentoring and support they need to actualize their career aspirations. CFEA has made several accomplishments during the 2014-2015 school year, including but not limited to increasing its chapters from 3 to 14 (with membership increasing from 55 to 358), producing a webinar on National Board Certification with National University, and doubling participation in the CFEA state conference with over 400 members in attendance. To learn more about California F.E.A., visit http://www.tomorrow.org/fea/.