Education

California schools are short of teachers. One reason? They’re going to Texas

Strike averted: Fresno Unified, teachers union reach agreement after months of debate

Fresno Unified and the Fresno Teachers Association have reached a tentative agreement after months of negotiations on salary, class size and more – avoiding a threatened strike.
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Fresno Unified and the Fresno Teachers Association have reached a tentative agreement after months of negotiations on salary, class size and more – avoiding a threatened strike.

California’s schools are hiring teachers again. But California’s colleges aren’t producing enough new teachers to meet the demand. So where will the state's new teachers come from?

Not from other states, if recent history is a guide.

From 2003 through 2016, about 18,000 more elementary and secondary school teachers left California than came from other states, according to a Bee review of U.S. Census Bureau data. The worst losses were during the height of the housing boom, when home prices were peaking, but they have continued throughout the economic recovery.

California saw the largest net loss of teachers to Texas. About 6,000 more teachers left California for Texas than came here from the Lone Star State from 2003 through 2016.

The average teacher salary in Texas is about $52,000, far below the average teacher salary of $77,000 in California, according to the National Education Association. But when adjusted for cost of living, teachers in Texas make about as much as their peers in California.



Teacher salaries have been a contentious issue across the country this year, with protests in Oklahoma and West Virginia winning raises for educators. Teacher migration between those states and California has been almost even since 2003.

The state’s teacher ranks dwindled during the recession as funding dried up. Demand for teachers subsequently rose during the economic recovery.

California school districts estimate they will hire about 21,000 new teachers next school year, according to the state Department of Education.

About 11,800 teachers were credentialed through the state’s colleges during the 2016-17 school year, barely half the number credentialed a decade prior, according to the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

About 4,200 new credentials were issued to teachers educated in other states in 2016-17, up by about 600 from a decade ago.

As California colleges educate fewer teachers and migration from other states doesn't make up the difference, school districts increasingly hire intern teachers. These interns can earn permanent teaching credentials while attending college and teaching.

About 4,400 intern credentials were issued last school year, double the number from 2012-13, state figures show.

A recent survey of school districts serving a quarter of the state’s student population found that more than 80 percent hired underprepared teachers in 2017-18. Many urban school districts reported to the Learning Policy Institute that they had hired high percentages of teachers in that year who were not fully certified, including Sacramento City Unified (34 percent), Stockton Unified (54 percent) and Fresno Unified (31 percent).

Phillip Reese is The Bee’s data specialist and teaches at Sacramento State: 916-321-1137
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