Community Colleges to offer teacher credentialing programs

Community Colleges to offer teacher credentialing programs

(Calif.) Students in California may be able to earn a teaching credential at their local community college under a new law that aims to increase the number of educators throughout the state by reducing barriers for low-income and rural candidates.

Signed last week by Gov. Jerry Brown, SB 577 establishes the California Community College Teacher Credentialing Partnership Pilot Program, which authorizes three grants of up to $500,000 each to community colleges working in collaboration with California State University or University of California to provide teacher-credentialing programs.

Priority would be given to partnerships in areas of the state suffering the most from shortages of K-12 teachers.

The bill’s author, Sen. Bill Dodd, D-Napa, said people who are interested in teaching but cannot afford tuition at a CSU or UC campus, or live too far from one, would be more likely to enter the program.

“Community college campuses are well-suited to training more teachers, especially in underserved rural and urban communities,” Dodd said in a statement. “Right now in California, three-quarters of all school districts report teacher shortages, and with the school-age population increasing by roughly 3 million in the next decade, it is time to act.”

The Learning Policy Institute reported in February that as many as 80 percent of districts in California had a shortage of qualified teachers during the 2017-18 school year, with many resorting to hiring instructors that are not yet fully credentialed or have substandard permits.

Participation in education training programs fell by almost 40 percent in California during the years following the recession, dipping to less than 19,000 in 2013-14.

Enrollment in teacher preparation programs would appear to be on the upswing, however, as enrollment also jumped 10 percent in 2013-14, according to a 2017 report from the Commission on Teacher Credentialing. And enrollment increased by almost 1,900 students in 2014-15 to 20,881.

During the latest legislative session, Dodd said the new law would bring opportunities to earn teacher credentialing degrees to areas with low college-going rates or limited access to teacher-credentialing, degree-granting higher education institutions.

There are 114 community college campuses in California, and in some communities they may be the only option for higher education for hundreds of miles.

For instance, students attending Lassen Community College in Susanville would currently have to transfer to CSU Chico–located nearly 3 hours away–to enroll in a teacher credentialing program. Those at Palo Verde College in Blythe would have to travel about the same amount of time to either CSU San Bernardino or UC Riverside.

Dodd told lawmakers that while his bill wasn’t the silver bullet that would end the statewide teacher shortage, it was one way to help build up the new teacher pipeline.

Other bills signed last week include:

  • AB 2015 by Assemblywoman Eloise Gómez Reyes, D-Grand Terrace, requires school districts to ensure that their students receive information on how to properly complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or the California Dream Act Application at least once before their senior year. The goal, Reyes said, is to ease the financial burden on students who want to earn a degree or industry certificate;
  • AB 2601 by Assemblywoman Shirley Weber, D-San Diego, requires charter schools to ensure that all students in grades 7 to 12 receive the same comprehensive sexual health education and HIV prevention education mandated in all other public schools;
  • AB 1974 by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez Fletcher, D-San Diego, prohibits local educational agencies from withholding grades, transcripts or a diploma because of an overdue bill. Additionally, schools cannot bar students who owe a debt from participating in after-school programs and sports because of money owed;
  • AB 2022 by Assemblyman Kansen Chu, D-San Jose, calls on schools to notify students and families of available mental health services on campus or in the community at least twice during the school year; and
  • AB 2291 by Assemblyman David Chiu, D-San Francisco, requires the California Department of Education to establish guidelines to prevent bullying and disseminate online training modules to educators.

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