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California Classrooms are in Crisis
This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week. But, it’s clear that this year California needs more teachers to appreciate. The state ranks second to last in teacher to student ratio and is in desperate need of more educators, so why is it so hard to get teachers in our classrooms?
Dr. Stephen Cochrane, local school board member and program director for the California School of Education, sums it up in one word: misperception.
“I think there’s a misperception about teacher pay and lack of knowledge about lifestyle and benefits of becoming a teacher. If people did some research and looked at pay grades— for example, a young person getting right out of college can get compensated pretty well and an experienced teacher can make a six-figure salary,” says Cochrane.
In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that the mean wage for secondary school teachers in California is $74,940. And that is excluding special education or teachers with supplementary credentials.
Perhaps even more attractive than the pay is the fact that teachers work for about 180 days per year.
It’s hard to imagine that a career in which one gets paid well for only 180 days of work is experiencing a shortage at all. Cochrane explains that it is because of the aging population of teachers. “California has a wonderful retirement system for teachers, so baby boomers are retiring en masse.”
That leaves this generation with the responsibility to step up to the plate and into the classroom. More than a responsibility, the role of a teacher is also one of the most intrinsically rewarding. The role of a teacher is as a pillar in the community, a trusted advisor to our children, and a change-agent on a massive scale. Being able to help and educate children during such a formative time is one of the most effective ways to leave a lasting impact in our world.
“Teachers mold and shape the character of their students, and their students provide them meaning and purpose in their work — I believe it’s a symbiotic relationship of mutual benefit,” says Cochrane, who was also a teacher before becoming a professor and school board member. “It’s meaningful. It’s fun. It’s interactive. It’s interpersonal.”
What’s more: it’s vital. This Teacher Appreciation Week, we at the California School of Education invite you to consider bettering yourself and bettering the world by becoming a teacher and ensuring that our children have every opportunity to get the quality education they deserve. And, we extend our appreciation and gratitude to all those teachers who have taught us, comforted us, guided us, and helped each of us become who we are today.