This article originally appeared in the VC Reporter Power to Speak op-ed section and is reprinted with permission.
With all the political distractions in the news, one critical issue seems to get very little attention. This is the impending teacher shortage. I use the term impending because here in Ventura County, we have not felt the pain of the teacher shortage in quite the same way as other areas of the state. That will not be the case for long, however.
One significant factor contributing to the shortage is that young high school and college-age students are simply not choosing teaching as a career. In fact, the Learning Policy Institute (LPI) has reported a 73% enrollment decline in California teacher preparation programs since 2002. According to LPI, more than 75,000 candidates were enrolled to become teachers in 2002 compared to just over 20,000 in 2016. Looking at the same years, the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing (CTC) reported a 47% decline in new teacher credentials issued, with 29,556 in 2002 dropping to 15,440 in 2016. This means each year we are sending fewer new teachers into the profession to take the place of retiring baby boomers and fill the openings created by increased population. In short, we are not preparing enough new teachers to sustain our school system.