I spent most of my career as a teacher educator and nothing has been more disheartening than the precipitous decline in the number of people across the country wanting to enter the teaching profession. In California, where I worked for the California State University (CSU), applications for credential programs dropped by 50% over a recent five-year period beginning about 2008. While application numbers are beginning to increase, we have a long way to go as the dwindling supply of new teachers has been a key contributor to severe teacher shortages adversely affecting students in most states.
What does this say about a democratic nation that cannot ensure that every student has access to a well-prepared teacher?
A big part of the problem, of course, is the pernicious narrative about the profession itself that causes many excellent would-be candidates to choose other career paths. In 2016, I helped found EduCorps, a systemwide teacher recruitment initiative designed to tell a more accurate and compelling story about the teaching profession. Since its inception, credential program staff at many of CSU’s 23 campuses have asked university and community college professors to nominate students they consider promising candidates for the teaching profession. These nominees have shown up in great numbers at celebration of teaching events where they hear about the rewards and the challenges of teaching from former credential students working in local schools.