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Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Working to Decrease Teacher Shortage

Joe Garland, local math teacher
24 to 1.

That is the California student-teacher ratio, the largest in the nation and eight more students per classroom than the national average.

The reason?

According to the California Teachers Association (CTA), the state is experiencing a teacher shortage. California is in such dire need of teachers that it needs an additional 100,000 teachers at the moment to bring the student-teacher ratio up to the national level. And it would need another 100,000 over the next 10 years to maintain current staffing levels.

“Probably the greatest deterrent to the pursuit of careers in teaching was the lack of teaching jobs and the general lack of stability,” said Joseph F. Johnson, Jr., Dean of San Diego State University’s (SDSU) College of Education. “Not enough attention is focused on all of the opportunities and benefits associated with careers in education, starting with the powerful opportunity to influence students’ lives.”

Tough Times for Teachers During 2008–12 California Budget Crisis

The layoffs that occurred during the recession further exacerbated the problem. However, California had trouble attracting and retaining quality teachers in classrooms. The CTA cites the following:

  • Nearly one in three teachers leaves the profession within seven years
  • 13 percent of teachers leave the profession after their second year
  • Every year, 10 percent of teachers working in high-poverty schools transfer

The demand for math, science and special education teachers is even greater and given the current rate of students pursuing careers in these fields, it appears the state won’t be able to meet that need.

Furthermore, CTA indicates that the number of people earning a teaching credential, and enrollment in teacher-preparation programs in California are both on the decline.

This teacher recruitment problem is most acute in urban and rural schools. Some experts indicate teacher salaries are a significant deterrent to recruitment.

New teachers in large school districts could expect to start earning $45,000 or more annually. However, teachers are still paid less than professions that require comparable education, training and skills.

“We would love to see school districts funded at a level where starting teacher salaries were greater,” Johnson said. “However, it is important to note that teacher salaries rise regularly and predictably more than many professions…(and) educators typically have great benefit packages that exceed those provided in many other sectors.”

Teaching is Back: Districts Need Teachers Now More Than Ever

To further help alleviate the teacher shortage, the College of Education, through which about 250 to 300 earn teacher credentials every year, is launching a campaign to highlight the benefits of pursuing a teaching career.  Through information sessions and community outreach, the College of Education is encouraging people to think about the noble profession of teaching.

In addition, as of August 2016 the Liberal Studies major is now part of the College of Education, a move Johnson believes will provide new opportunities to strengthen the pipeline to careers in education. Furthermore, in collaboration with the Sweetwater Union High School District, the College of Education has launched a new program called R.I.S.E. that guarantees teaching jobs to Sweetwater graduates who earn teaching credentials at SDSU in certain areas.

“Local school districts anticipate needing thousands of new teachers in the next few years,” Johnson explained. “For individuals who are committed to making a positive difference for students, this is a fantastic time to pursue a teaching credential.”

At San Diego University, teaching credentials can be earned in as little as one year.  SDSU runs teacher preparation programs in the following areas:

It’s a great time to considering teaching as a career.  SDSU Credential program applications are now open for the Fall 2017 academic year.