SACRAMENTO—State Superintendent of Public Instruction Tony Thurmond hosted a Teacher Recruitment Summit at the California Department of Education (CDE) today and formally launched a coalition to further engage in direct recruitment of teacher candidates statewide. The Summit brought together around 350 attendees—about one quarter joined in person—from teacher credentialing programs, school districts, county offices of education pipeline programs, AmeriCorps programs, military representatives, and more.
“Teachers are the backbone of our educational system. They inspire, guide, and shape the minds of our future leaders, thinkers, builders, innovators, writers, scientists, and artists,” said Thurmond. “Today, we stand in a moment that demands our attention and collective action—the need for a robust and diverse pool of educators to propel our schools forward into the next chapter … to take on the evolving needs of our students and school communities while we are pushing down the accelerator to grow our teacher pool.”
Attendees participated in working groups aimed at brainstorming solutions to the current teacher shortage by developing recruitment strategies for retirees, out-of-state candidates, military personnel and their spouses/domestic partners, and classified personnel.
Superintendent Thurmond speaking to an audience
At a press conference preceding the event, Thurmond was joined by a number of leaders to praise new coalition efforts, including Dr. Linda Darling-Hammond, President and CEO of the Learning Policy Institute and President of the State Board of Education; Dr. Marquita Grenot-Scheyer, Chair of the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing; Jeff Freitas, President of the California Federation of Teachers; Leslie Littman, Vice President of the California Teachers Association; Dr. Travis Bristol, Associate Professor of Teacher Education and Education Policy at the Berkeley School of Education; Dr. Edgar Zazueta, Executive Director of the Association of California School Administrators; and Susan Markarian, President of the California School Boards Association.
“We have an education staffing crisis. We were seeing it coming like it was a weather pattern, and it is here. We have a lack of staffing—teachers, classified staff, fully certificated counselors, bus drivers, and custodians. We have a shortage throughout California,” said Jeff Freitas. “Since the 1990s, housing costs in California have gone up 300 percent, but wages for school employees have not matched that even by half,” he said, pointing to a reason for the difficulty of attracting people considering working in the education field. “I want to thank Superintendent Thurmond and all the organizations here supporting this and helping us move forward to make sure public education is what we prioritize in the state and to provide an education that students deserve.”
In his remarks, Dr. Travis Bristol reminded attendees of the importance of an ethnically diverse teacher workforce. “Research and evidence are clear that when students of color have a teacher of color, they are less likely to be suspended, have higher achievement scores, and have a better overall school experience,” said Bristol. “As we spend time today thinking about recruitment, let’s not lose sight of the importance of and pushing for recruiting, supporting, and sustaining an ethnically diverse teacher workforce.”
The Summit is the first of its kind at the state level and sets a tone for a new coalition effort to creatively and collaboratively tackle a problem plaguing the nation. In recent months, Thurmond launched a one-stop recruitment portal that allows teacher candidates to get information in one place, including how to pursue a teaching credential, how to find vacancies at districts, and ways to access resources to support their education and credentialing.
“We remain committed to ensuring that our teacher workforce is robust and will reflect the rich diversity of California’s population. Through outreach and partnerships and the work of our new coalition, we are working to attract more individuals from diverse backgrounds to join the ranks of education in California and bring their unique perspectives to the classroom,” Thurmond said.
A full recording of the Summit can be viewed on the CDE Facebook page. Anyone interested in becoming part of the statewide teacher recruitment coalition should email TeachinCA@cde.ca.gov.