Improving the Effectiveness of California’s Teaching Force

On Wednesday, The Sacramento Bee published an opinion piece by Steve Westly that outlined suggestions for improving the effectiveness of California’s teaching force. In particular, Westly suggests expanding alternative certification programs, improving outreach to college graduates, and utilizing funding and other incentives to attract STEM teachers, particularly in low-income communities. 

Westly also writes, “At a minimum, we should extend the tenure review period from two years to at least three or four, so that principals can better determine which teachers fit their schools’ needs before granting tenure.” Assemblymember Shirley Weber’s (D-San Diego) Teacher and Student Success Act (AB 1220) would extend the timeline for making teacher tenure decisions and provide additional support to new teachers. Currently, tenure decisions are made after a new teacher only has 18 months to sink or swim in the classroom; AB 1220 was drafted to give new, promising teachers additional time, mentoring, and professional development services in order to help them reach their full potential.

 

While Assemblymember Weber decided to hold AB 1220 in the Senate Education Committee, to be considered next year, it is clear that these important issues are not going away. As California faces a growing teacher shortage over the next decade, even while enrollment in training programs continues to drop, we need to reinforce our commitment to bringing passionate, motivating, and inspiring teachers into the profession. As Westly points out, “We owe it to our kids to bring the highest performers we can into teaching. By increasing the status of the profession, we will, over time, attract better teachers.”