As a Graduate Admissions Counselor for Teacher Credential Programs at Concordia University Irvine, I work with a lot of career changers. Almost all of them meant to go into teaching years ago but life “got in the way.“ Second-career applicants share that they have always had that little voice reminding them that teaching is what they’re meant to do. Teaching is indeed a calling. As much as they feel called however, they also have practical issues to address when considering a teacher credential program. As most of these applicants now have a family to consider, one of the questions they ask is, “how does the future look for teachers?” They’ve heard there’s a teacher shortage, but is the career change stable, they wonder..
"Teaching is indeed a calling."
One reason for our nation’s teacher shortage is the exodus of Baby Boomer teachers due to retirement. The Super Bowl Sunday front page article “Bell sounds for a wave of retiring Baby Boomer teachers” in the Orange County Register and the article “Help wanted: California school districts scramble to hire teachers” in the Sacramento Bee capture the situation quite well. And there is, and will continue to be, a need for science and math teachers at the middle school and high school levels. California students need strengthening in these subjects and yet according to EdSource the number of new teachers going into math and science has declined despite ongoing efforts in California and nationally to attract teachers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) fields to the profession.
According to Linda Gojak, President of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, in a recent article, although the focus on the importance of mathematics education has grown over the last 25 years, we continue to have a shortage of qualified K–12 mathematics teachers. Education Trust West released a report in September 2015 that examines the shortage of qualified science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) teachers in California’s schools. And the most compelling analysis of the impending California teacher shortage is found in Addressing California’s Emerging Teacher Shortage issued by the Learning Policy Institute.
The second reason more teachers are needed: the shift to smaller class sizes in K-3 classrooms. From EdSource’s guide to the Local Control Funding Formula (LCFF) and California’s new K-12 finance system:
"Under the new system, school districts are provided with a substantial financial incentive to reduce class size in K-3 classrooms to no more than 24 students — although they will be given the full eight-year transition period to full funding to do so. By that time, all schools in a district would have to have a K-3 class size of 24 or fewer students in order for a district to receive the 10.4 percent additional base funding per-student. During the transition period, districts also must show they are moving proportionally toward reaching the 24:1 student-to-teacher target in each school."
California schools have until 2019 to reduce their class sizes so this will be an ongoing effort.
Will we need new teachers in Orange County? Consider the new schools right here in the Irvine Unified School District: Portola Hills High School opening in September 2016, Beacon Park Elementary School opening in August 2016, Cypress Village Elementary School opened in September 2014 and Jeffrey Trail Middle School September 2013.
Here in the CUI School of Education, we have received calls this year from the Brea-Olinda, Placentia-Yorba Linda and Santa Ana Unified school districts expressing need for both substitute teachers and classroom teachers due to the teacher shortage. One of those districts also announced that they are accepting the EMERGENCY SUBSTITUTE TEACHING PERMIT rather than the EMERGENCY 30-DAY SUBSTITUTE TEACHING PERMIT to hire subs.
What’s the difference? There is one important distinction between the two: The Emergency 30-Day Substitute Teaching Permit requires passage of CBEST and a Bachelor’s degree. The Emergency Substitute Teaching Permit requires CBEST passage but only verification of current enrollment in a regionally-accredited four-year California college or university. This means that you don’t even have to have a Bachelor’s degree to sub in a classroom, just proof that you are working on a Bachelor of Arts.
"Our nation’s shortage of teachers is clear."
Our nation’s shortage of teachers is clear. Approaching retirement for many teachers is leaving voids. And mandatory smaller class sizes in California make this national story hit home, most especially in Orange County.”
by Deborah Baumgartner, MAEd, Graduate Admissions Counselor of Teacher Credential Programs at Concordia University Irvine