Thursday, August 13, 2015

Teacher shortage reaching crisis proportions in California and across the nation

We’ve been sharing news about the teacher shortage, especially in science and math, for a while now (see previous posts here and here).  This past weekend the New York Times reported that the shortage is now reaching crisis proportions in California, and increasingly, across the nation. Check out our summary below:

"[The teacher shortage] is not impending. It's here."

Monica Vasquez, chief human resources officer for the San Francisco Unified School District, is just one of several school district members nationwide who have experienced teacher shortages in their schools. Last spring her district offered early contracts to over a hundred teachers in order to secure candidates before other districts.

The teacher shortage in the United States has been noted as a huge change from just a few years ago, when school districts handed out pink slips to teachers. Now, districts across the country struggle with a shortage of teachers - a result of the aforementioned layoffs (during the recession years) combined with the improving economy in which fewer people are training to be teachers.

Although teacher layoffs happened nationwide, California was particularly hit, with 82,000 school jobs lost from 2008 to 2012, according to the Labor Department. This academic year, the California Department of Education estimates that districts will need to fill a total of 21,500 slots - a difficult task, as California issues less than 15,000 new teaching credentials each year.

In order to combat this shortage, schools nationwide are looking to hire applicants as soon as possible - which means sacrificing experience and credentials for some. One school in Rohnert Park hired a high school cross country coach as an elementary school physical education teacher before he began taking teacher credential courses; meanwhile, a masters degree student in Stanford University's school of education was hired as a fourth grade teacher after a 45-minute telephone interview. During the 2013-2014 school year, nearly a quarter of new teaching credentials issued in California were for teaching internships, which enabled candidates to work as teachers while taking classes after school or on weekends.

"We don't like it, but we do it," noted Paul Beare, dean of the school of education at California State University, Fresno, where 100 of the 700 teaching credential candidates will teach full time while completing their degrees. While this may not be the ideal approach for schools, it is certainly a popular short-term remedy for the problem of teacher shortages.

To learn more, check out the original article, "Teacher Shortages Spur a Nationwide Hiring Scramble (Credentials Optional)" by Motoko Rich (New York Times).

Two of Project Tomorrow's initiatives, YouthTEACH2Learn and Educators Rising California, 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.

Educators Rising California, formerly 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. The California affiliate of Educators Rising 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 Educators Rising state conference with over 400 members in attendance. To learn more about Educators Rising, visit https://www.educatorsrising.org/.