The California Teacher Shortage: The Gift That Keeps on Giving

I want California’s Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning to know how much I appreciate the Christmas present it sends to me each year. Every December 15 or so, I can count on CFTL to issue the same preposterous claims about a teacher shortage in the state despite all evidence to the contrary. They can usually rope in one or two breathless headlines or blog posts, and this year’s report was no exception. Louis Freedberg of California Watch headlines his story, “State’s teacher supply plummets,” and warns us of the “brewing crisis.”

There are multiple reasons for the declining appeal of teaching to Californians, said Patrick Shields, director of research for SRI International, which conducted the research for the report. Principle (sic) among them are horrendous “market forces” that have led to 30,000 teachers being laid off in California over the last two years alone – with novice teachers being the most likely to have gotten their walking papers.

I’m convinced the folks at CFTL are worried that I’m working too hard, and so give me this opportunity at Christmas to take a break. Why else would they write a report claiming there is a shortage of teachers because they can’t find jobs? So I’ll just rest up by pointing you to the EIA Communiqué of December 13, 2004, and reposting this Intercepts item from December 15 of last year:

The Yogi Berra Logic of California’s “Teacher Shortage”

Someone once asked baseball great Yogi Berra why he no longer went to Ruggeri’s, a St. Louis restaurant. He replied: “Nobody goes there anymore. It’s too crowded.”

The same reasoning is on display in the California public school system, where the state Department of Education, the California Teachers Association, and the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning continue to promote the notion of a “continuing” or “impending” teacher shortage.

CFTL is the Chicken Little of teacher shortages, and has been for many years. With thousands of teachers being laid off in the state, it’s getting harder and harder for the organization’s analysts to make that case. But they haven’t stopped trying, despite their own data showing a marked improvement in teacher qualifications and the undeniable evidence of few new teachers being able to find jobs, except in math and science.

Just like Yogi, CFTL president and executive director Margaret Gaston is afraid no one will enter teaching because it’s too crowded. “What we’re concerned about is when California begins to lift out of this economic crisis, is California going to have an adequate pool of teachers from which schools and districts can choose?” she said.

Gaston and the other California teacher shortage alarmists refuse to accept responsibility for their rhetoric. Because of seniority provisions in collective bargaining agreements, the teachers being laid off are the same ones who answered the clarion call for new teachers to fill the previous “shortage.” In the unlikely event that California ever finds itself without teachers to fill its classrooms, CDE, CTA and CFTL will have no one but themselves to blame.

Pass the egg nog, honey!


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