California: Who will teach our children?
December 14, 2010
During the last seven years, the number of Californians becoming teachers has dropped 45 percent, even as student enrollments are expected to rise by 230,000 over the next decade and another 100,000 teachers are expected to retire. [California Watch]
Teaching, according to state experts, is becoming less and less of a desirable profession. One report indicates that the number of college students enrolled in teacher preparation programs declined from 77, 705 in 2001-02 to 42,245 in 2008-09.
“The report puts its finger on a more urgent problem than the need to push out the very small number of teachers who are not as good as we would like them to be, and that is where we are going to get the best quality teachers in our schools that we will need in the future,” said Richard Zeiger, chief of staff to incoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson.
Multiple reasons are being given for the teacher shortage. Budget cuts to the California State University system, which awards half of all teacher credentials in the state, has had to cap enrollments in teacher training programs.
Also to blame: Horrendous “market forces” that have led to 30,000 teachers being laid off in California over the last two years alone, with novice teachers being the most likely to have gotten their walking papers.
Don’t forget budget cuts. Teachers are expected to do more with less, typically teaching in larger classes, with fewer counseling and other staff to help out with hard-to-teach children. All this comes on top of reductions in salaries and benefits in the form of unpaid furlough days, increased health care premiums, and other cost-saving measures.
Experts worry that local school districts will respond to the crisis by raising class size.