Bill would return induction costs to districts

Bill would return induction costs to districts

(Calif.) School districts would be required to cover the costs of a key training program for new teachers under legislation expected to be considered this month.

AB 141 by Assemblywoman Susan Bonilla, D-Concord, would also prohibit districts from charging new teachers for induction training that can cost as much as $5,000.

“The thought that brand new teachers would be billed for a mandatory program – just shocks me,” Bonilla, a former teacher herself, said in an interview Monday. “They are at the bottom of the pay scale. They are struggling to master their profession. And we are going to put an added stress on them? I just feel like it’s ridiculous.”

Long considered critical support for teachers in their first years on the job, induction programs typically offer a lot of individualized mentoring from more experienced educators and time in classrooms to observe exemplary instruction techniques.

In California, teachers who have finished their teacher education programs receive a preliminary teaching credential and may be hired to teach. However, except in some rare case, new teachers are required to complete an accredited teacher induction program within five years to advance to a professional credential.

The Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment Program dates back from the early 1990s and had been enough of a high priority that the Legislature dedicated a specific categorical earmark to fund the training – running as much as $130 million depending on how many new teachers enrolled.

With the onset of the recession, lawmakers in 2009 gave LEAs flexibility over the BTSA money and in 2013, swept the program into the Local Control Funding Formula, along with almost all other categorical money.

Without specific state support, LEAs have approached induction in a variety of ways. Some have maintained their programs and paid for them out of the LCFF money. Some have put the burden on the new teachers, charging them for participation.

Some districts have chosen to stop offering the training altogether.

The responsibility for completing the training, however, remains on new teachers.

Specifically, Bonilla’s bill would:

  • Commencing with hiring for the 2016–17 school year, require a school district or county office of education hiring a beginning teacher to provide that teacher with an induction program.
  • Prohibit a local educational agency from charging a fee to a beginning teacher to participate in an induction program.

No funding is tied to the bill but Bonilla noted that the prior categorical money that paid for the training was never cut – it was only made flexible so that districts could use the money for other purposes. She said AB 141 would simply require that LEAs spend some of their general fund money on this program.

The bill comes forward as the governor’s office has also begun a discussion with officials at the Teacher Credentialing Commission about streamlining induction requirements.

In the narrative from his January budget, Gov. Jerry Brown called the BTSA requirements “cumbersome and expensive to operate.”

In many cases, Brown said, “teachers are struggling to complete the induction requirements due to the lack of available programs or the cost of participating in a program.”

Brown said he also wants to convene stakeholder meetings to discuss what the responsibility of school districts should be in providing key induction supports for new teachers, such as mentoring.

Bonilla said adoption of her bill fits into the governor’s plans and suggested that the administration could do a lot to reduce the costs of induction, thus lowering the burden on districts.

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