Fast-track credentials make dent in California teacher shortage

By Jessica Brice, The Associated Press
Saturday June 22, 2002

SACRAMENTO — Fast-track teacher credential laws that make it easier to get teachers into the classroom appear to be working, but California still faces a major teaching shortage, state officials say. 

The number of credentialed teachers jumped last year by 8 percent over the previous year, while the number of emergency teaching permits and credential waivers declined, according to the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing. 

Earlier this year, state officials reported an anticipated shortage of nearly 300,000 teachers during the next decade. However, thanks in part to laws that make it easier for out-of-state and prospective teachers to earn credentials, that number is now closer to 195,000, said Linda Bond, the commission’s governmental relations director. 

“All these things are beginning to bear fruit,” Bond said. “Not to say that we don’t still have a ways to go, but the trend is in the right direction.” 

A 2000 law that allows out-of-state teachers to get certification in California without repeating credential requirements has increased the number of teachers credentialed, Bond said. 

“We’re seeing an influx of people because they like the sun, the avocados and the benefits,” said Bond, adding that 3,000 extra out-of-state teachers have received credentials since that bill was implemented. 

Sen. Jack Scott, D-Altadena, who led the fight to speed up teacher credentialing, has turned his attention to the shortage of school administrators. 

Scott introduced a bill earlier this year that would allow prospective administrators to “test out” of credential requirements, speeding up the process by up to two yeas. 

“I’ve always felt good teachers and administrators should be hired based on demonstration of competency,” said Scott, who worked for 30 years as a university history teacher and then administrator. “I felt it was unnecessary to have these bureaucratic hurdles to getting certified as a teacher or administrator.” 

Currently, a person who wants to become a school principal or administrator must undergo preparation at a university, which can take more than three years. 

Similar to Scott’s fast-track teacher credentialing bill, signed by Gov. Gray Davis last year, people with extensive educational experience can get administrative credentials by taking an exam and going through a performance assessment to prove their competency. 

The fast-track administrative bill, SB1655, passed the Senate and will be heard by the Assembly Committee on Appropriations on Wednesday. If it is successful, it would take effect immediately.