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SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tom Torlakson announced today that legislation is advancing at the state Capitol to help address a growing shortage of teachers in California.
Several bills moved forward last week as the Legislature faced a bill deadline. Torlakson spoke in favor of the legislation at a Capitol news conference earlier in the year, when legislators introduced new measures to recruit more educators and help them earn teaching credentials.
"I will continue to work with all members of the Legislature who want to help talented and committed people enter this rewarding profession," said Torlakson, who started his career as a science teacher and coach. "I am spreading the message when I speak at the state Capitol and at schools and events all around the state: California needs more teachers. Teaching is a wonderful profession with challenges—but also great rewards. Teachers have the opportunity to have a profound positive impact in a young person's life."
Enrollment in California's teacher preparation programs fell from more than 40,000 students during the 2008–9 school year to less than 20,000 in 2012–13.
In 2014–15, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing issued 15,000 credentials, while the California Department of Education (CDE) projected the need for California schools to hire 22,000 teachers.
The Legislature last week had a "house of origin" deadline, which means legislation introduced in the Senate in 2016 had to pass to the Assembly, and Assembly bills needed to pass to the Senate.
The Legislature has until August 31 to pass any bills in the 2015–16 session, and Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. must sign or veto bills by September 30.
Bills that Torlakson supports include SB 915 by Senator Carol Liu, D-La Canada Flintridge. This bill re-establishes the California Center on Teaching Careers (Cal Teach) to recruit qualified individuals into the teaching profession. The program boosted teacher recruitment through outreach campaigns in the 1990s but was discontinued due to state budget cuts. SB 915 passed the Senate 28-8 and is pending in the Assembly.
SB 933 by Senator Ben Allen, D-Santa Monica, would create a California Teacher Corps program that provides matching grants to local school districts to create or expand teacher residency programs. SB 933 passed the Senate 37-0 and is also pending in the Assembly.
Torlakson also sponsored SB 62, by Senator Fran Pavley, D-Agoura Hills, to reinstate and improve a phased-out state program to provide student loan forgiveness to new teachers. Under the Assumption Program of Loans for Education (APLE), a new teacher would teach for four years at a school with large numbers of disadvantaged students or at a rural school. This bill was introduced last year and is pending in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.
Torlakson also supports several other bills to expand and increase funding for teacher training. Information is available at the Legislative Information Web site. In addition, those seeking more information about how to become a teacher can find it at Teach California .
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Tom Torlakson — State Superintendent of Public Instruction Communications Division, Room 5206, 916-319-0818, Fax 916-319-0100