We need a lot more teachers.

Fewer folks want to be teachers, even as the demand increases. In San Diego County, about 32 percent of teachers are 50 years old or older. As more teachers retire, we have to replace them.

On this week’s podcast, Heather Lattimer, associate professor at the University of San Diego’s School of Leadership and Education Sciences, joined host Laura Kohn to talk about ways to recruit students into the teaching profession.

Lattimer said the education field is in a battle to attract students – despite financial concerns and stigma surrounding the career choice.

“The larger issue that I hear over and over is, ‘Why do you want to become a teacher?’ I hear that from students,” she said. “I also hear it from students’ parents. Often the students that we encounter who are interested in teacher education and becoming teachers have to combat their parents who are concerned that, ‘Hey, this isn’t going to be something where you’ll be able to A, earn the money, but B, have the respect that we think you deserve.'”

Only about 5 percent of nationally surveyed college-bound high seniors say they’re interested in entering the education field, the lowest percentage in decades, Lattimer said.

We Stand Up for You. Will You Stand Up for Us?

Scott Lewis and Laura Kohn also discuss the 30 percent decline in teacher credentials by San Diego County’s higher education institutions between 2010-2011 and 2014-2015 fiscal years.

Got thoughts, opinions or experiences with this? Call 619-354-1085 and leave your name, neighborhood and story so we can play the voicemail on future episodes.

Number of the Week

22,000: The total statewide teacher shortage California school districts anticipate for the upcoming 2016-2017 school year.

What’s Working

The San Diego Unified School District created a teacher pipeline task force a few years ago to improve teacher recruitment, retention and evaluation methods. The pipeline is designed to encourage and support students in the district to enter the education field and return as teachers.

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    This article relates to: Education, Good Schools For All

    Written by Rachel Evans

    Rachel Evans is a reporter for Voice of San Diego. She can be reached at rachel.evans@voiceofsandiego.org

    George Scott
    George Scott

    A few years ago they were handing out thousands of pink slips to teachers with the least seniority.  I am confused how there are too few teachers now.

    Laura Kohn
    Laura Kohn subscribermember

    Oakland has instituted a bunch of teacher recruitment measures that reduced their first-week-of-school vacancies from 70+ last year to single digits this year:  https://edsource.org/2016/oakland-schools-nearly-fully-staffed-after-starting-summer-with-teacher-shortage/568662

    Re comments below, the salary issues are real.  Teaching used to pay more than average for someone with a BA.  Now CA teachers earn 14% less than others with a BA in our state:  http://www.epi.org/publication/the-teacher-pay-gap-is-wider-than-ever-teachers-pay-continues-to-fall-further-behind-pay-of-comparable-workers/#epi-toc-14

    Todd Maddison
    Todd Maddison

    If we treated education like any other business this would not be the case....

    What if we established metrics for success, exposed those metrics to transparency (on the internet, no doubt), then gave parents the ability to direct their educational tax dollars where-ever they wanted - through a voucher system?

    What if we then let the educational system incentivize that success within it's own ranks - the same way business does - by giving raises and bonuses to those who demonstrate exceptionalism, instead of simply "because the clock ticked"?

    Let's see.... We'd have a system where parents could easily see which educational facilities are doing the best job and sending their dollars there.

    We'd have school district administrations that understood that their pay - and future raises or bonuses - were dependent on providing exceptional service, which would incentivize them to spend their money in ways that actually do that.

    Those same administrations would understand that their future success depends on attracting the "best and brightest" to their district - like any business - and would do whatever it takes to do that.  Including paying new incoming teachers based on their skills and talents rather than how many minutes have passed.

    We'd have teachers whose future raises and bonuses would depend on producing a higher quality education than "the other guy" - rather than simply because they're there.

    In the end I'd be Most Happy seeing quality teachers (and administration) paid more than they are now - particularly if that higher pay were tied to measurably better quality outcomes - as it is in pretty much "every possible enterprise on earth" aside from Education....

    But the current system?  Where education begs for us to give them more money "just because" and then says "trust us" to spend it wisely?


    John H Borja
    John H Borja subscriber

    The three relevant generations of young people, the millenials, and the next two younger generations can do the math.  The average pay of a teacher just starting out is less than 50K.

    And, you will have to work as a teacher for more than 20 years to get the incremental pay increases that come with job longevity. One, the 50K doesn't pencil out all the expenses of  college loans, renting an apartment, maintaining a car, normal living expenses, and just breathing, if you are single. Two, the longevity incremental pay increases do not best the rising cost of living and actually fall short. These young people know that they made it through the industrial "learning" pipeline and they do not want to be a part of an antiquated and crumbling education system. Thirty percent of enrolled and attending children k-8 are not getting the attention they deserve. The "special ed" kids, in a way, are getting special treatment due to Federal mandates. But, there is a whole group of kids that are falling by the wayside because there is no money to allocate to them. They are the real homeless, the ones that nightly sleep in cars or under blankets on the streets. They are the kids that are not immediately referred to a doctor for vision, speech, and hearing problems. They are the kids with an undiagnosed neurological spectrum disorder(possible autism). And,they are the dyslexic. Teachers in the "normal" classroom cannot mediate these issues and when these children are referred to administrative staff, any preliminary discussion is delayed for more than half a year and any mediation for the children may not commence until well into the subsequent new academic year. So? That thirty percent of children languish in relative la-la land and essentially miss the stuff they were supposed to learn. People write and yell about the achievement gap of children of color and how they are responsible for the low test scores. But, the issues mentioned above cross all cultural, ethnic, and racial lines. The issue is, of course, money. But, more importantly it is about the allocation of money. And, in the final analysis, the huge increase in expenditures in public education that are needed today K-16+.

           If you ask a teacher employed today what they really care about, you will most likely get an answer that includes the need for more help for their students and the release from administrative and curriculum imperatives. Teachers understand how to teach. They also understand that the curriculum imperatives have more to do with satisfying the expectations of the manufacturers of the curriculum.  One size fits all seemed to work for McDonald's for a long time, but even Mickey D is changing that formula. What you get is horrible waste in money because the curricula just doesn't fit the neighborhood demographic. 

           But, in the meantime you have "principals" whose job it is to keep teachers in line. Not in the personal sense, but in making teachers follow the exacting methods of an apparent useless curriculum that had a heavy initial cost to the school district. 

           One of things that happens quite frequently is that school districts do not willingly collaborate with teachers in deciding about curricula.  Why would a school district collaborate at all with the teachers? After, all teachers are employed to follow the orders of the administration. Hmmm.  

             And, we go back to what teachers do to begin teaching. They must graduate from an accredited university. They must pass a number of scholastic tests to verify capability. They must pass medical and security tests in order to assure safety of all students. Some teachers obtain post graduate degrees at renown universities.  So, if I were a CEO of an oil corporation, wouldn't I want the input of my exalted engineers? Hmmm. Teachers are regarded as janitorial engineers and must "punch in" and "punch out" like assemblyline workers at GM. Teachers don't have brains. 

              So, in my experience with kindergarteners and first graders I needed to be self aware from the minute I opened the classroom door until I left to go home for the day. I could always  be reassured that the kids would notice that I was missing a button on my shirt. Or that I had a stain on my shoes. Or that my pants were ripped. 

             So, why would the younger than 36 year olds want to teach knowing how teachers are treated? 

               Society has a decision to make. And, that decision will either be theirs or it will be imposed upon them. It costs money to educate children well. Do American families want that expenditure to be only for those children that do not have an obvious disability? Or do Americans want our country to be tops in how we treat all the children?  

               When and if America decides that children are the future of our country we can look forward to far fewer children ending up in "juvi hall" or prison. That is an expensive human cost. We, as Americans can only continue to be the greatest nation on earth if we recognize that our neighbors children are Americans as well. There must be no distinction between "leafy" neighborhoods and concrete infested neighborhoods to support a vision that all children deserve to be smiled at and loved. 

                 Our young people want to serve. They really want to help. But, when whatever entanglements deter that we all lose.  Teachers must be supported. That is not happening today.

    Bruce Higgins
    Bruce Higgins subscriber

    Why wouldn't young people want to be teachers?  Let's see:

    The Administration telling you what you must do.

    The Union taking your money and telling you what you can't do.

    Parents who freak out if you give their precious darling any thing less than an A.

    Students who don't want to be there and feel entitled.

    And Lastly, a curriculum that demands rote memorization and discourages reasoning.

    Gee, I can't see why young people aren't flocking to the profession.

    John Porter
    John Porter subscriber

    Well said Richard.  I'd add that as more vocations open their doors to females, fewer will be interested in teaching.  Nice job, society.  You have make an honorable and important profession undesirable.  Who wants to work with your entitled, misbehaving little angels?

    richard brick
    richard brick subscribermember

    Why would anybody in their right mind want to become a teacher? Teachers are the new whipping boys for everything that is wrong with public education.

    At one time teaching was an honorable and respected profession, no longer. As of today teaching has come down to teaching for the standardized test. They tell you what to teach and how to teach it, so much for the teachers input.

    Dennis subscriber

    @richard brick "New" whipping boys? I would say teachers and real public education has been a target for 15+ years.