At a recent education conference, Marshall Tuck and Tony Thurmond, both candidates for California State Superintendent of Public Instruction, discussed strategies to combat a teacher shortage that is gripping the state, EdSource reports.
One of the issues is the need to offer incentives, such as housing, to recruit new teachers and provide sufficient mentoring and support to retain them.
In the wake of the shortage of teachers in the state, panelist Tara Kinney, director of state policy for the Palo Alto-based Learning Policy Institute, said that two-thirds of new special education teachers and two-fifths of new science and math teachers are underprepared, lacking a preliminary teaching credential, or are assigned to classes without having the subject expertise.
The reduction of the pool of qualified teaching candidates nationwide is reaching critical proportions and leaving many school districts scrambling to fill classroom positions, especially in high-need fields such as STEM and special education. Lack of affordable housing, the challenges of teaching in a data-driven environment, increasing pressures on the profession, and the lure of higher paying jobs are factors in the teacher shortage across the country.
Another EdSource article revealed that the number of underprepared teachers working in California’s public school classrooms has more than doubled in just three years. While using underprepared teachers may be a temporary fix for a difficult situation, the longterm effect on educational quality remains to be seen.
Some school districts are looking for new ways to encourage high school students to go into the teaching profession by offering career pathways in high school and college scholarships based on returning to the school district to teach. In the meantime, competition for high-quality teachers is sending many states scrambling for candidates and making teacher recruitment a nightmare for many school districts.