Teacher shortages in California are likely to grow worse in the coming years unless steps are taken to restore and expand teacher recruitment and training and improve working conditions for educators.
That's the conclusion of Addressing California’s Emerging Teacher Shortage: An Analysis of Sources and Solutions, a report from the Learning Policy Institute, a nonprofit education research organization.
"Our analysis shows California is on a trajectory that, if left unchecked, will likely result in increased teacher shortages and greater inequities among students in different communities," says Linda Darling-Hammond, president of the institute.
The organization's research found that for California to restore student-teacher ratios to levels attained before the 2008 recession, districts would need to hire 60,000 teachers—that's in addition to their other hiring needs.
"If California were to reduce student-teacher ratios to the national average, districts would have to hire 135,000 additional teachers," the report says.
Finding enough teachers will be a challenge, the report asserts, because the supply of new teachers is a 12-year low.
"Enrollment in educator-preparation programs has dropped by more than 70 percent over the last decade, and has fallen below the number of estimated hires by school districts around the state," the report says.
The most critical shortages are for in the fields of mathematics, science and special education.
"Districts estimated their hiring needs at roughly 4,500 special-education teachers in 2014-15, [but] only about 2,200 fully prepared new special-education teachers emerged from California's universities in that year," the report says.
The institute's recommendations for combating the teacher shortage include:
- Reinstating the CalTeach program, which helped recruit teachers from colleges, other careers, and other states
- Creating incentives to attract diverse, talented individuals to teach in high-need locations and fields
- Creating innovative pipelines into teaching, such as high school career pathways and grow-your-own teacher-preparation models
- Providing incentives that support teachers’ ability to stay in or re-enter the profession