California has a teaching crisis. In the summer of 1999, school district recruiters scrambled to find 27,000 new teachers. In the past year, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing helped fill the vacancies by issuing a record 33,994 emergency teaching permits and credential waivers.
At the same time that schools are searching for these new teachers, they are educating a more and more racially and culturally diverse population; today 60% of California’s public school students are of color, frequently born into homes where English is a second language, and often foreign-born themselves.
Given the schools’ needs, it would seem that state education officials and local districts would move decisively to sweep away barriers to recruitment, and especially recruitment of teachers of color. Instead, teacher training programs are full of roadblocks to the aspiring teacher – including high costs, standardized tests that bear no measurable relationship to teaching success, and low pay and lack of respect for those who do jump the hurdles.
Creating Crisis focuses on three key areas:
- Who’s Teaching California’s School Children? investigates the demographic profile of the current teachers and explores the educational value of increasing the racial and cultural diversity of the profession.
- A Look at Seven School Districts details the racial dimensions of the crisis in teaching in seven large urban school districts: Los Angeles, San Diego, Long Beach, Fresno, Oakland, San Francisco, and San Jose.
- Views from the Teaching Trenches presents in-depth interviews with a recruiter of teachers, a classroom veteran, and an aspiring applicant who has just taken the state mandated entrance test, the CBEST.
The report concludes with detailed recommendations for expanding the quality, quantity, and racial diversity of California’s teaching force. The main recommendations are:
1. Fully invest in the development of teaching talent and resources at high-need schools by creating "Local Education Action Projects" one of whose features would be to recruit and train local residents to become high-quality, long-term teachers in their local schools.
2. Develop a fully prepared, highly skilled teaching force, better trained and supported in dealing with California’s diverse school population.
3. Eliminate barriers that prevent qualified people from becoming teachers, including the CBEST.
4. Increase teacher compensation and provide incentives for teaching in high-need schools
5. Aggressively institute programs to attract more teachers of color.
Just as things that are learned can be unlearned, problems that are self-inflicted can be undone. These measures would significantly improve teaching in California’s racially and culturally diverse public schools.
Creating Crisis Full Report (PDF)