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  • Writer's pictureDr. Lisa Gonzales

The Teacher Shortage…What to do? What to do?

Here in California, not all school districts started the 2016/17 school year in rare form. Oakland Unified had some 400 vacant teaching positions. The behemoth Los Angeles Unified had 1,000 educator and support positions unfilled. And it isn’t for a lack of effort or recruiting. The additional challenge is that the locations most in need of credentialed teachers are school sites that are traditionally filled with large numbers of unrepresented minority students, truly those most in need of strong teachers.

A number of pieces of legislation are in place to help with teacher housing, integrated credential programs, and even classified training grounds for teaching credentials. But they won’t be enacted quickly enough to make an immediate dent in the statewide shortage.

So what are districts doing to recruit?

Large urban districts have been using approaches like social media, mobile phone applications, university partnerships, and signing bonuses, especially for high needs areas such as science, math, Special Education and speech pathology. I’ve seen Oakland Unified’s marketing attempts on both LinkedIn and Facebook, and the videos circulating by other districts have been nothing short of inviting and clever.

Other large urbans, like Los Angeles, have created their own intern programs. They’ve even gone the way of new legislation by designing career ladder programs, so classified staff can progress to teachers, and teachers can progress to administrators.

But the challenges continue in areas like where I live in the Silicon Valley. Housing prices have skyrocketed. Teachers are traveling 60-90 minutes to their school sites, significantly impacting their quality of life. They aren’t alone; those in law enforcement can’t afford to live in the valley either. While districts have explored building facilities for shared housing, money doesn’t grow on trees and communities aren’t supporting the notion either.

Recruiting season is almost upon us. Wishing all districts good luck as they continue to provide quality staff members to educate and support students.


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