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Future Teacher Shortage Foreseen As Fewer Enter Profession

O'Connell Warns State Budget Cuts Hurt State's Ability to Produce Educated Workforce

April 8, 2010

State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jack O’Connell, Margaret Gaston, President of the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning, and Dr. Mary Falvey, Dean of the Charter College of Education at California State University, Los Angeles, warned on Tuesday that deep cuts to the state’s public education budget are having a dire effect on the recruitment, preparation, and support of the future teacher workforce.

“California is at a critical tipping point where deep state budget cuts are having an effect on whether we can produce the next generation of students who can thrive in our hypercompetitive global economy because we may not have enough teachers,” said O’Connell. “More than 26,000 teachers have been handed pink slips this year. This is leading to fewer beginning teachers staying in the profession and fewer candidates entering teacher preparation programs. Meanwhile, tens of thousands of educators will retire within the next decade. All these factors are contributing to a significant future teacher shortage in California.”

According to research conducted by SRI International for the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning (CFTL), California’s teacher workforce is in a state of decline in a number of areas:

From 2007-08 to 2008-09, the overall teacher workforce declined from 310,000 to 307,000;

From 2007-08 to 2008-09, the number of first- and second-year teachers dropped by more than 20 percent from more than 35,000 to less than 28,000 in all school levels; and

From 2001-02 to 2006-07, the number of enrollees in teacher preparation programs declined by one-third from more than 77,000 to fewer than 52,000.

This year, cuts to the state public education budget have forced districts to issue preliminary layoff notices, or pink slips to 26,004 teachers and other certificated staff. More than 16,000 teachers lost their jobs due to budget cuts last year, and approximately 10,000 classified school employees were laid off. 

“Perhaps just as important, the downstream effects of pink slipping are worth considering,” said Gaston. “History tells us that when pink slips are issued, there is a concurrent decline in the number of individuals preparing to become teachers and fewer teacher credentials issued to those who complete their preparation. The latest round of layoff notices has sent a negative message to current and prospective members of the teaching workforce. But those who are considering a career in education we say ‘Stay the course.’ Soon, the demand for teachers will reflect increased enrollments in elementary schools and an accelerating teacher retirement rate.”

“Throughout California, colleges and schools of education have experienced fewer applications for teacher preparation programs as school districts continue to lay off more and more teachers,” said Dr. Falvey. “Many young people considering teaching as a career and those wishing to change their careers to teaching are disheartened to even enroll in these programs for fear that there will not be a job at the end or that even if they get a job, they will receive a ‘pink slip’ after a year or more of teaching.”

“To get out of this recession and for California’s economy to thrive we must have an education system that helps all students gain the critical skills necessary to compete in the global economy,” O’Connell said. “To reach this goal, we must find a stable, long-term solution that will encourage the best and the brightest to become teachers and to keep them in the classroom.”

O’Connell has urged the Governor to reconsider his proposal to cut an additional $2.4 billion from public schools this fiscal year, and calls on both the Governor and the Legislature to give communities more control over their schools' destiny by approving SCA 6. The measure authored by Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) would allow passage of parcel taxes by a 55 percent vote instead of a two-thirds vote.

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Source:  California Department of Education