05 Apr Today’s California Teacher Layoffs May Cast Long Shadow (CA)

April 5, 2011

By: Education News
Source: Education News

The budget crisis in California is not just affecting teachers currently in the classroom. It has now spread to those looking to become teachers in the future. The Los Angeles Times reports that teacher training programs throughout the state have reported drop-offs in students seeking teaching credentials, a trend partially due to the current uncertainties in the job market.

Dale Janssen, the Executive Director of the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing, thinks it’s hard to entice people to the profession in the face of yearly lay-off announcements. The number of teaching credentials issued in California has dropped 29% in the past five years, something Janssen calls “a very dramatic decline.”

Post-bachelor’s teaching programs are also experiencing this trend. According to the article, the Cal State University system, which trains 12,000 students toward receiving their credentials, is seeing a more than a 50% drop in enrollment in their teacher training programs from eight years ago. Cal State’s Asst. Vice Chancellor Beverly Young thinks that the economy is only part of the reason for the decline. She believes that the new realities of teaching – the focus on testing and less flexibility in lesson planning and large classrooms – deter some from pursuing the profession. Although, for those who do choose to teach, “the negatives are outweighed by the chance to help youngsters,” she adds.

The decline in enrollment has also hit private colleges. National University, which mostly teaches online courses, says its enrollment has dropped by 30% since 2006. The school’s education dean Carl Beyer says that the school’s schedule makes it particularly sensitive to the ongoing budget debates in Sacramento. He said he’d noticed an uptick in the beginning of the school year, followed by a decline as more news about the impending budget cuts got reported.

A Santa Cruz-based Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning has released a report that forecasts a problem for the state education system if the decline is not reversed. The Center anticipates a growing need for new teachers to replace baby-boomers who are retiring but also to deal with projected increases in enrollment.

Elementary school enrollment statewide is expected to increase 7% by 2018 and high school enrollment, declining now, will start to grow again by 2016, according to the study. Meeting the demand for teachers will require more recruiting by university credentialing programs “as well as a redoubling of efforts to make the teaching profession attractive to new and experienced teachers alike,” the report said.

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