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Daily 49er

Our View: California teachers dropping like flies

Robbie Eich


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The most vital occupation to society — and what essentially makes a society — seems to be losing players on its team. We all know that when a team begins to lose its players it loses its fans.

The teaching “industry” in the United States is facing a recession. The economy has really affected the future of the profession. There are tens of thousands of laid-off teachers around the nation and, notably, thousands in the Golden State of California.

Because of heavy budget cuts this past spring, the Los Angeles Unified School District issued about 27,000 temporary pink slips to teachers, but permanently laid off a little more than 2,000. Not only does this leave newer, less experienced teachers out of work, but some recent graduates are left without a taste of what the job could be like.

With the educational system being hit as hard as it is now, the future of aspiring teachers is very uncertain. This begs the question: If this pattern does not change, how shitty is the quality of our future teachers going to be?

Thousands of teachers are dropping from the profession like flies because they are so frequently being screwed by the system. Some are considering leaving the state for jobs in more teacher-friendly states, the ones that actually have a demand. Some teachers are having second thoughts about even entering the noble occupation at all.

With many older teachers reaching retirement age, WestEd, a San Francisco-based nonprofit research and education agency, predicts that about 55,000 baby boomers will retire in the next seven years.

So in seven years not only would we possibly still be broke, we will have millions of little illiterate Californians roaming the streets.

This teaching crisis can easily bring down the quality of education in California — if there is quality left to salvage. Well-qualified teachers are left roaming around looking for possible substitute opportunities in schools. Problems like these are what end up being a turn off to young adults who want to both be teachers and enjoy decent lifestyles.

Nonprofit organizations like the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning and the recently developed California Teacher Corps are working to strengthen the teaching workforce. Unfortunately, there isn’t enough spinach left in Popeye’s can to make a muscular difference.

On the campaign trail, President Barack Obama emphasized education and his plan to reform the system; promising to improve educational quality in many ways. Obama’s administration has proposed a $30 million campaign aimed at young adults and mid-career professionals that will be focused on the importance of strengthening both the work force and the quality of our future teachers.

According to the Santa Cruz Teachers Center, the number of students enrolled in teacher preparation programs this year declined 13 percent and the number of new teaching credentials dropped 17 percent.

Teaching is a very important occupation and education is the backbone of childhood development. For real change to come to schools — and for college undergraduates to pay more attention to the teaching field — the state needs to takes its investment obligation to heart. If it doesn’t, California will soon find itself without a soul — one that is enlightened by the spirit of dedicated teachers.

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