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Take Action to Tackle the Teacher Shortage

Three California bills aim to help improve teacher preparation and retention.

March 15, 2016
Briana Calleros
California Policy Associate, Common Sense Kids Action

CATEGORIES Policy

All our kids need and deserve great teachers. School districts across the country, however, are struggling with shortages of K–12 teachers, particularly in math, science, and special education. The problem is especially acute in California, where the supply of new teachers is at a 12-year low and enrollment in teacher-preparation programs has dropped by more than 70 percent over the last decade. If we don't take action now, there will be grave consequences for our kids and our future.  

California already has the worst student-to-teacher ratio in the country -- more than 40 percent higher than the national ratio of 15.5 students per teacher. Our schools are facing a perfect storm of large numbers of retiring teachers, low enrollment in teacher-preparation programs, and reverberations from previous years of teacher layoffs.

California enrollment in teacher-preparation programs has dropped by more than 70 percent over the last decade.

The shortages cause instability and negatively impact teachers, administrators, and, most critically, our kids. Data from recent years and previous shortages demonstrate that low-income students of color and students with disabilities are especially affected, with disproportionate numbers of their classes being taught by underprepared teachers.

The shortages cause instability and negatively impact teachers, administrators, and, most critically, our kids.

To maintain the promise of educational opportunity for all kids, California and other states need to take action to recruit, support, and retain great teachers. This is why Common Sense supports the following bills that would help improve teacher preparation and retention in California:

Senate Bill (SB) 62 (Pavley) would reinstate one of California's most successful teacher-recruitment and financial aid programs: the Assumption Program of Loans for Education (APLE). It would help address the teacher shortage by reducing the financial cost of becoming a teacher. Since 1983, APLE has helped thousands of people pursue teaching as a career.

SB 915 (Liu) would reestablish the CalTeach program to help recruit teachers from colleges, other careers, and other states and provide them with information on becoming a teacher, making the process simpler for future educators.

SB 933 (Allen) would provide local school districts with funding to create or expand teacher-residency programs and allow program participants to apprentice alongside a mentor teacher for a year while completing coursework and earning a stipend. In exchange, program participants must make a commitment to teach in the district for four years. This would ensure that a new generation of teachers will be trained for success.

In the weeks ahead, Common Sense Kids Action will be letting our members know about opportunities to express support for these bills that benefit kids and future and current teachers. To participate, become a Kids Action Advocate today!