In a shocking and completely unexpected bit of news, it appears that young people are no longer interested in the Noble Profession. The Los Angeles Times reports that 12% fewer people earned teaching credentials in California last year compared with the year before—the 8th straight annual decline. The California commission on Teacher Credentialing said that 16,450 educators earned credentials in 2011-12, while 23,320 did so in 2007-08.
One might argue that maybe today’s breed of wannabe teachers are just too stupid or lazy to pass the already really easy teacher preparation courses, but the number of students enrolling in teacher preparation programs has also dropped from 51,744 in 2006-07, to 34,838 in 2010-11, thus indicating that interest in the teaching profession is waning.
The decline has experts baffled.
When polled, current teachers insist that teaching is still the Noble Profession. “I love my students,” said Melissa Bernstein, a 4th grade teacher in El Cajon, California. “I’d do anything for them. When my principal calls ad hoc meetings after school to get us on board with the latest reforms, I’m the first to arrive and the last to leave because I know it’s what’s best for my students!” San Francisco High school science teacher Armando Villalobos said, “The pay may not be sufficient to live in San Francisco, but the satisfaction of knowing I helped my students’ raise their test scores few points more than makes up for it.”
Dean Vogel, president of the California Teachers Association, said the combination of budget cuts, layoffs and slashed programs, combined with declining numbers of people entering the profession has been “very impactful” on our numbers. “Nationally, our union [the NEA] has lost 150,000 members over the last 3 years. These are good-hearted, hard-working teachers whose dues help pay my six-figure salary. This has me worried.”
While fewer young people are interested in becoming teachers, over 54,000 teachers are older than 55 and rapidly approaching retirement. This constitutes 19% of all California teachers. However, as California’s student population grows and its pool of fully credentialed teachers shrinks, considerable job and entrepreneurial opportunities will be created, which should boost the state’s lagging economy. For example, districts with insufficient numbers of credentialed teachers can always shut down some of their campuses and transfer them over to private charter school operators, who can hire Teach for America interns, and non-unionized, un-credentialed private school teachers. Districts may also choose to transfer much of their teaching duties to online “distance” learning companies, offshore call centers and sweatshops and simply hire “monitors” to make sure that students are logged on to the correct education websites during class time.