It wasn't too many years ago that there was an abundance of new young teachers coming out of the colleges and universities looking for a future in education. Those days are over, and education is in for some real challenges ahead.
The pipeline of teachers in our colleges and universities have fallen by more than 40 percent. In 2003–04, the state of California issued 27,000 new preliminary teaching credentials. In 2009-10, the state only issued 16,000 credentials.
So what does this mean? It means that students in colleges and universities who wanted to become teachers are starting to look elsewhere for jobs. They've given up on the education profession.
The median age of teachers in the USA K-12 is 42 years of age, according to the national Center for Education Statistics, with 33 percent of the teachers 50 years or older. When these teachers retire there will be few to replace them.
So what is the solution?
The solution will be a multifaceted approach, with colleges and universities changing the way they educate teachers, allowing them to get him involved in the student teaching process earlier, providing them with mentors while they're still in school and helping to create pride in the profession.
Not only do the colleges and universities, who prepare our teachers, have to change but K-12 education itself needs a real facelift. We must gain a greater use of technology for both students and teachers. We must break down the "bricks and mortar" mold of having one teacher in a classroom for every group of 35 to 40 students.
Orange County schools are up for this challenge. We already see in our overregulated and underfunded schools, some of the most innovative and exciting things going on in classrooms throughout the country. I will talk more about this in the future.
— Bill Habermehl is the recently retired superintendent of the Orange County Department of Education.