CTA's co-sponsored SB 1291, which was just signed by the Governor, will help retain thousands of laid off teachers by authorizing unemployment benefits for those who seek certification training and intensive test preparation in the high demand areas of math, science, and special education.
This bill will create job opportunities by expanding available training for teachers who wish to stay in the teaching field. In the future, this bill will decrease unemployment benefits and result in cost avoidance in years to come by permanently employing these teachers.
California has the largest teacher workforce in the country, with over 305,000 teachers but only 40,000 of these are specialized in mathematics or science. California has faced similar challenges in maintaining an adequate supply of special education teachers. In order to become a science, mathematics, or special education teacher, an employee must demonstrate competency through exams and other assessment methods specific to the desired teaching specialty in addition to a general assessment on basic educational skills. As a result, the population of teachers who choose to specialize in a particular subject is scarce relative to those who are only generally credentialed.
Fiscal conditions have required school districts across the state to dismiss 32,000 teachers since 2007-2008 which has exacerbated the scarcity of specialized teachers. According to a 2007 study from The Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning, California will face a deficit of 33,000 science and math teachers over the next 10 years due to attrition and retirement. The same study also found that California’s current rate of teacher production, particularly in specialized areas, is insufficient to bridge the gap.