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In California: Teacher Shortage and Opioid Crisis Bills Become Law

Like most states in the nation, California is experiencing a teacher shortage. Teacher recruitment has largely been led by the 1,000 individual districts in the state, and the California Department of Education (CDE) historically has not had the staffing capacity to engage in direct teacher recruitment or support in this area.

In recent months, State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond launched a one-stop recruitment portal that allows teacher candidates to get information in one place, including how to pursue a teaching credential, how to find vacancies at districts, and ways to access resources to support their education and credentialing. Thurmond also hosted a Teacher Recruitment Summit in August and formally launched a coalition to further engage in direct recruitment of teacher candidates statewide.

Some bills signed by California Governor Gavin Newsom this week impacting K-12 include:

  • SB 765 (Portantino): Teachers: retired teacher compensation: This law allows California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) members to return to an education position more expeditiously and raises the income cap from 50 percent to 70 percent. 
  • AB 1127 (Reyes): Bilingual Teacher Professional Development Program: This bill’s language was incorporated into statute with the Education Trailer Bill (SB 114 [Ch. 48, Stats. 2023]), and it reestablishes the Bilingual Teacher Professional Development Program, addressing California’s growing need for bilingual teachers in languages such as Spanish, Vietnamese, Mandarin, Cantonese, Tagalog, and Arabic. 
  • SB 10 (Cortese): Preventing and Treating Student Opioid Overdose: This measure expands statewide prevention and education efforts against fentanyl-related overdose in schools. It requires that school safety plans—which are mandated by law—include protocols that respond to pupils suffering from an opioid overdose, such as new campus safety rules concerning fentanyl on campus. The bill would also ensure information is supplied to educators and other school staff to save children who overdose on campus.

The signing of Senate Bill (SB) 765 in particular will help mitigate the teacher shortage crisis by streamlining the process for retired teachers to return in a more expeditious manner and with greater consistency. Additionally, a key portion of SB 765 was incorporated into the budget, which increases the grant award for teacher candidates from $25,000 to $40,000.