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BLOG: Where Have all the Teachers Gone?

Change in our schools is coming! There some good news and bad news; in this blog we will talk about that.

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Jim Reardon September 26, 2012 at 05:04 PM
Mr. Habermehl has the cause-and-effect of this situation backward. The reason that there are fewer teachers being credentialed in California is because of declining student enrollment and the budget squeeze, combined with the intrinsic "Last in First Out" (LIFO) rules that are enshrined in state law. The mechanism is simple: Fewer students require fewer teachers. Less money means larger class sizes and thus even fewer teachers. The younger teachers are not hired or retained because of LIFO. The effect is an aging workforce of teachers that drive the average rate of teacher pay upward (because of seniority-based pay schedules), resulting in still larger classes, etc. If young teachers could get secure jobs, more young people would seek to teach. But the barriers to entry are systemic and smart young people are shying away from the profession. With the exception of a few large urban school districts, student enrollment is falling all over the state. To get and keep a new teaching job in Orange County is near impossible right now. If a young credentialed teacher is RIF'ed in OC, their choice is to relocate out of the area, or fall into the corp of substitute teachers who earn less than a grocery bagger at Von's. The reward for that $100K + 5 year college education? The problem is the nature of the employment proposition in our schools, not a lack of willing young people. LIFO favors senior teachers. It's no surprise that young people seek other careers.
CindyC September 26, 2012 at 05:55 PM
I thought there was a glut of teachers, because of all the budget cuts. People will naturally shy away from a career with little job opportunity.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) September 26, 2012 at 06:05 PM
I think there was. And yes, there are a lot of teachers on rehire lists at many districts. Teachers who have harder-to-find skill sets (those who teach math and science are harder to find according to this article: http://www.nbclosangeles.com/blogs/prop-zero/What-Teacher-Shortage-112527209.html) and probably those who have their B-CLAD (able to teach in two languages) jump over the many waiting. Capo Unified has been paring down teachers for years. Many in this year's crop (who were rehired thanks to a retirement incentive to get older teachers out) had 9, 10 years' experience.
Alberto Barrera September 27, 2012 at 03:24 AM
Seeing as there are lots of laid off teachers, I'd say that teacher shortages won't be an issue for a very long time.
Kate September 27, 2012 at 02:03 PM
Amen, Jim! And Alberto, we young teachers are a resourceful bunch - many of us have moved on to careers that offer more reward for much less effort!
Mary G September 27, 2012 at 02:10 PM
At least a grocery bagged at Vons has steady work. I've been a sub in Orange County going on six years and average only 80 days for the entire school year. There are too many subs, some of whom are retirees looking for extra bucks to keep up with inflation. I've applied to over 100 full-time teaching positions this year throughout the state, and the feedback is that there are 300 to 800 qualified applicants for each position, even in the most remote counties!
Penny Arévalo (Editor) September 27, 2012 at 02:28 PM
Thank you, Kate and Mary, for sharing your experiences.
Ken Lopez Maddox September 27, 2012 at 04:13 PM
Superintendents tell me we are 7 years away from needing new teachers.
Penny Arévalo (Editor) September 27, 2012 at 04:20 PM
So today's juniors in high school and younger?
Dan Avery September 27, 2012 at 05:30 PM
One day I was accepting final essays at Saddleback. A young man entered the room, presented his essay with both hands, laid it on the pile, performed a full bow, and then backed out of the room. At first it freaked me out. Then I realized what was wrong with education in this country. We don't respect it. We see it merely as a means to an end; the old "you need to get an education in order to get a good job" routine. As a nation we need to fundamentally change our views on education or the problem will only get worse.
Riffer September 28, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Mr. Hambermehl's opinion piece reflects a real problem among educators. As other posters have pointed out, there is no shortage of teachers in the market. One could get the sense from his piece that Hambermehl's real concern is a slow down for universities who educate teachers. Oh my! Lookout the education bubble may be about to burst.
Alberto Barrera September 28, 2012 at 01:38 PM
A bow? I think I should try that some time.......
randy September 28, 2012 at 05:47 PM
Arne Duncan recently calls for teachers to earn $150k. New teachers starts $60k. He said teachers are needed at market value to educate students the best. Cream of the crop needed.
SB September 28, 2012 at 07:45 PM
I'm a RIFed teacher who had 14 years in the district when laid off. I don't have 7-10 years to wait for a teaching position to become available. I'm a very successful teacher and it is a genuine loss to those students to have an old, tired teacher that gets to keep their job due to seniority. I feel let down by the ed code and ed system, so I'm going back to school for a second master's degree in a field that will value my skills. I, too, applied for teaching positions and was told that there were 906 applicants for one position, over 700 apps for another position, etc... Here in O.C. there are plenty of teachers, just no positions. Plenty of overcrowded classrooms with less funding to support the students as well as increased workloads for the remaining teachers. Oh, don't forget, many of those remaining teachers also took pay cuts and cuts in their benefits (ie: health, dental, vision). Why would anyone even consider going to college to become a teacher in this decade?
bizworldusa October 03, 2012 at 09:22 AM
Seeing as there are lots of laid off teachers, teacher shortages won't be an issue for a very long time....... Regards, <a href="http://www.bizworldusa.com/">Bizworldusa</a>
Connie October 25, 2012 at 04:35 PM
I am looking for a teacher to tutor my kid at home. Can you please pass on the information to whoever is interested? Please email me at Conniemelvillesan@gmail.com. Big thanks!
Lawrence (Larry) McCook October 25, 2012 at 04:50 PM
Connie, I served as a Legislative & Advocacy Rep for two schools for six (6) years in Rancho Santa Margarita and can help you locate a teacher. In which subject does your child need tutoring and in which city do you live? Larry
Connie October 25, 2012 at 05:56 PM
I live in Newport Beach. I am looking for a phonics and reading teacher. Experience and credential teacher only. Can you kindly communicate through my email conniemelvillesan@gmail.com? Thanks so much for your prompt respond.
Maria Brophy February 16, 2013 at 12:37 AM
I see a growing move towards home-schooling via virtual school. That could be one contributor to less students in the classroom Our son was bored with public school and had trouble focusing in the classroom. This year we tried San Juan Capistrano USD virtual school and he's thriving. He's even learned the value of setting daily goals and managing his time for efficiency. The best part: he finishes his school day hours before everyone else, so there's plenty of time for his science experiments, as well as playtime with other kids. And, he still gets one-on-one time with his teachers, live, when he needs it.

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