Once considered to be recession proof, education careers—especially teaching—are shaky at best. Hiring new teachers has slowed, fewer enter the profession and those that do rarely stay long.
According to Segun Eubanks, director of teacher quality at the 3.4 million- member National Education Association: "Unless we see some level of turnaround in the economy, it's likely to get tougher for new teachers to find jobs and for long-term sustainability." [Teaching Jobs Disappear, by Tami Luhby, CNN Money, August 4, 2011]
Throughout the state and local government sector 577,000 jobs have been lost since the September 2008 peak. About 225,000 of those jobs were education related. Major budget cuts to public education are the main reason teachers are getting pink slips.
From coast to coast, teachers are under pressure. Over the past two school years, according to the New York State United Teachers Union, New York lost 10,000 school jobs. Attrition or retirement caused 90 percent of the reduction.
Today, however, the axe is falling on employed teachers. New York school districts, which suffered a $1.3 billion cut in state aid for the 2011-12 year, now have 5,660 teachers, librarians, counselors and nurses out of work. Another 1,940 school professionals, including bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodians and teachers aides, are also unemployed.
In California, 4,200 teachers are wondering if they will get called back for the fall session. In the meantime, class sizes have nearly doubled to 35 students from 20 and kids have fewer support services.
The California teaching crunch comes at a bad time. The California Department of Education reported this week that nearly 1 out of every 5 students (20 percent) in the class of 2009-2010 dropped out before graduation. In some districts, the figure is much worse: Oakland, 37 percent and Los Angeles, 25 percent. Within those districts, some individual schools’ drop out rates are twice the state’s average: Van Nuys and East Valley High School both hit the 50 percent mark.
If you can stand more bad news, here it is. Nearly 20,000 enrolled eighth graders do not go to high school. [LAUSD Graduate Numbers Improve but Still Terrible, by Connie Llanos, Los Angeles Daily News, August 11, 2011]
Clearly, this is a time when young Californians need teachers and the guidance they should provide. But as a practical matter, it’s impossible, both physically and fiscally, to educate over 1.5 million diverse, limited English speaking K-12 students while at the same time trying to educate the remaining 4.5 million pupils.
Over-immigration has created to a constantly growing population of non-English speaking students, some here illegally and some others the citizen children of illegal aliens.
California has reached the point that immigration reform patriots knew would eventually arrive. The state doesn’t have the resources to educate the world. Long overdue is a challenge to the 1982 Supreme Court Plyler vs. Doe decision that allows illegal alien children access to U.S. public school education.
For a complete analysis of how California’s once highly rated public school system declined into chaos and ineffectiveness, read my June 30, 2011 CAPS Issues piece.