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Report: California Facing Teacher Shortage

December 15, 2010

SACRAMENTO, Calif. - California's teaching workforce is running on empty. That's the conclusion of a new report by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning (CFTL). It finds budget cuts over the past three years have made it tougher for teachers to meet increasing expectations for academic achievement, and for the state to recruit new teachers. Report author Patrick Shields says classrooms have been hit hard.

"As districts have tried to decide what to do in terms of these budget cuts, they often have chosen to not hire teachers when there are openings or to lay off teachers, which means – because the number of students, of course, doesn't change – is that class size is going up."

Shields, who is also director of the Center for Education Research at SRI International, says districts also have decided to lay off non-instructional personnel, a move that also hurts teachers.

"Like nurses, attendance counselors, instructional aides, folks like that – who can be very supportive to teachers, and take care of some issues that allow teachers to focus on instruction."

Fewer young people are choosing to go into the teaching profession, he adds. The report blames the 40 percent decrease partly on budget cuts to California's colleges and universities, which in turn capped enrollment in some teacher preparation programs. Shields predicts the state will see 200,000 new elementary students in the next few years – just as the state's teacher pipeline is drying up.

The CFTL's twelfth annual report, "Calfornia's Teaching Force 2010," is online at www.cftl.org.

Lori Abbott, Public News Service - CA