A Continuing Crisis

California is a big, complex state where contention often drowns consensus.

But one of the few places where there is clear consensus is the need to improve our public schools and the understanding that we need a top-quality teaching force for that improvement to occur.

To their credit, California’s leaders have applied attention and resources in the past few years to strengthening the teaching force. There have been some slight improvements, but there is still a long way to go. Consider:

  • The gap between the number of credentialed teachers being produced and the number the state needs is expected to grow significantly over the next decade.
  • One in seven California teachers does not yet have even a preliminary teaching credential.
  • About half of all new teachers are entering their classrooms without benefit of a preliminary credential or having practiced teaching under the supervision of a veteran teacher.
  • Poor students are far more likely than their wealthier counterparts to face teachers who are underprepared and inexperienced.
  • Students in California’s lowest-performing schools also are far more likely to face teachers who are underprepared and inexperienced.

These are all huge problems. And California’s severe budget crisis will make further improvements even more challenging for the state’s policymakers, who will have to be creative and focused to ensure that every student has teachers who are both fully qualified and effective.