How California Catholics hope to fix the teacher deficit
Catholic News Agency Mar 29, 2017
Sacramento, Calif., Mar 28, 2017 / 08:02 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The California Catholic Conference has announced that it is sponsoring a bill to help attract and retain teachers in response to the state's shortage of K-12 educators.
“Additional measures are needed in order to assure that our new teachers are given the appropriate preferential option that supports their development and commitment in their noble profession,” the conference said in a March 16 statement. This “in turn translates to better service and better education of our youth.”
The conference, tied to the state's Catholic conference of bishops, is the official voice of the Church in California's legislative arena. It is proposing a bill which would give greater tax breaks to new teachers in the process of receiving their permanent credentials. Besides paying back student loans and serving at the lower end of the salary scale, new teachers must “enroll in costly induction and professional development programs aimed at converting their preliminary credential to a permanent or 'clear' credential.”
California has suffered from a lack of educators since the recession hit in 2007. The conference says easing a teacher’s financial difficulties would incite greater quality and quantity of new blood to the profession. The state requires teachers to complete the “clear” credential within the first five years of being employed, but schools or districts are not required to pay for these programs.
Local educational agencies have an average annual fee of $2,000, and universities or colleges may charge up to $5,000 yearly to complete the induction programs. New teachers are forced to pay out-of-pocket, and the legislative groups says the financial strain ultimately affects their students.
The bill, AB 516, would either give teachers working towards a “clear” credential a tax credit or a deduction for professional expenses. Newly accredited teachers would have the option to either claim up to a $500 credit or deduct $2,500 from their state income taxes to balance the fees required for these programs.
Over 310,000 teachers were employed in California, but after the economic recession in 2007, it has dropped to less than 296,000 in the 2014-2015 school year. According to the Learning Policy Institute, a study in 2013 reveals that California's student-teacher ratio was 24 to 1 and is the highest ratio in the nation compared to the national average of 16 to 1.
The conference cited a study from the Learning Policy Institute that “the number of intern credentials, permits, and waivers it has issued” has nearly doubled between 2013 and 2016. These permits are issued to teachers who have not yet finished their permanent credential. The study also stated that the greatest growth occurred “in emergency-style permits known as Provisional Intern Permits (PIPs) and Short-Term Staff Permits (STSPs),” which are only issued when classrooms have an immediate need.
California not only needs an increase of teachers but a better system “to support, develop and retain qualified teachers,” the conference added.
“The most effective way to achieve this goal of offering a good education is to have qualified and prepared teachers in the educational work force committed to their profession.”