Sacramento, California - State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson, as part of an effort to recognize National Teacher Appreciation Week, announced a new statewide “Make the Switch: Be a Teacher” campaign. The campaign, created by the California Department of Education, highlights those who have switched to teaching after starting careers in other fields and encourages more mid-career professionals to consider becoming teachers.
Torlakson thanked the nearly 275,000 educators who serve California public school students and urged others to recognize the importance of teachers. “Teaching isn’t just a job. It isn’t just a career. It’s a calling. It’s a commitment to your community, your students, and most of all, a commitment to the future.”
Torlakson also encouraged more people to consider joining the teaching profession.
The California Department of Education (CDE) posted a video profile of a teacher (Video; 3:45) who has joined the field after a career as a local broadcaster, Melissa May, while also including resources letting people know how they can become a teacher.
“Great teachers are the backbone of our education system and, unfortunately, we are falling short of training as many as we need,” said Torlakson, who started his career as a high school science teacher and coach. “We are working closely with our educational partners to entice more college students to join the field. But mid-career professionals are another great resource.”
Qualified mid-career professionals and former military personnel bring a maturity, confidence, and perspective to the classroom that can benefit students.
Torlakson said the campaign will encourage Californians to think about someone they know who would be a good candidate to become a teacher. People can also nominate a mid-career professional who has already made the switch to classroom teaching for the video campaign.
Additional information is available at the Teach California Web site and through the California Center on Teaching Careers , which operates regional satellite centers dedicated to increasing the teacher workforce.
Torlakson has made teacher recruitment and training one of his top priorities, including declaring “Change Lives: Be a Teacher Day” when he served as Acting Governor in summer 2016. Enrollment in teacher training programs declined during the recession, but the state’s economic recovery and increased public school funding are driving demand for more qualified and trained teachers, particularly in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM); special education; and career technical education.
The nonprofit Learning Policy Institute surveyed more than 200 California districts and reported that 75 percent were experiencing teacher shortages, and the vast majority of districts said those shortages were getting worse.
Stagnant teacher supply is insufficient to meet growing demand. New California teaching credentials have remained constant at 11,500 since 2013–14, while projected annual new hires have grown and now exceed 20,000.
The Legislature has increased funding for teacher recruitment and training, including $25 million in the 2017–18 state budget to help classified school employees such as school nutritionists and safety personnel become teachers.