Tue Nam Tom for EdSource
Elgin Webb IV, of Oakland, speaks with a recruiter during a recent teacher job fair in Oakland.

Twenty-five California school districts and county offices of education will share $20 million in state grants to help their support staff earn teaching credentials.

The funding from the California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program is aimed at helping classified employees, or those in jobs that don’t require teaching licenses, earn bachelor’s degrees and teaching credentials by providing aid for their tuition and other costs.

The initiative is in response to a teacher shortage in many districts across California, especially in math, science, special education and bilingual education.

The 25 districts and county education offices were selected earlier this month for the competitive grants by demonstrating a shortage of teachers, having classified employees willing to enroll in teacher training programs, having a high demand for math, science, special education and bilingual education, and other factors.

To see a list of the 25 recipients click here.

The grants provide up to $4,000 in funding for 1,000 employees annually for five years. The commission had received applications from 61 agencies to cover 5,582 classified employees.

Classified employees range from instructional aides, who work alongside teachers in classrooms, to librarians, secretaries, custodians, bus drivers and some administrators.

The 25 agencies winning grants are spread throughout the state in both urban and rural regions. They include six agencies in the Bay Area, which is often described as “ground zero” of the teacher shortage: San Francisco Unified, San Mateo County Office of Education, Santa Clara County Office of Education, and a consortium consisting of Castro Valley Unified, Pittsburg Unified and West Contra Costa Unified.

“Producing new teachers is huge in itself,” said Joshua Speaks, legislative representative with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, which is administering the program. “But we also want to produce them in the right places, and we want to produce them where they will stick around,” he said. “These teaching candidates already work for the districts, so they’re likely to feel more invested in the districts and stay in their jobs once they become teachers.”

To become eligible for a grant, a candidate must already have an associate of arts degree and be currently employed by one of the 25 agencies.

“Producing new teachers is huge in itself. But we also want to produce them in the right places, and we want to produce them where they will stick around,” said Joshua Speaks, legislative representative with the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing.

Candidates whose tuition and other costs are higher than $4,000 a year must pay the difference themselves, unless their school district or county education office has an agreement with a teaching college or university to make up the difference.

Those receiving grants must continue working at their district while enrolled in teacher preparation programs, meaning most would only be able to enroll part time.

Tuition at California State University campuses, which produce half of the state’s teaching credentials each year, is currently $5,472 per year for students enrolling in more than six units per semester, and $3,174 for students enrolling in six or fewer units.

A consortium led by the Orange County Department of Education and another group led by the Riverside Office of Education each received 100 annual grants, the most of any of the recipients.

Orange County partnered with the nearby San Diego and Imperial county education offices, and also with the Butte County Office of Education in Northern California, to submit one application. The three Southern California agencies invited Butte to join their consortium because Butte already had strong relationships with teaching colleges, models the southern counties could use to build their own programs, officials said.

Judy Levinsohn, a manager for Orange County’s instructional services division, said the consortium surveyed classified employees across the four counties as part of the application process and found that more than 1,200 were interested in earning a teaching credential through the grant program.

The classified employees ranged from those with an associate’s degree, to those who had already completed more than 100 college credits and were close to finishing the coursework for a bachelor’s degree.

She said most of the respondents were paraeducators, or instructional aides and other employees who already work in classrooms or with students in some capacity.

Levinsohn said representatives from the four counties will meet in coming days to determine the final selection process for grant winners, with the first batch of teaching students receiving their grants in time for the upcoming spring semester.

“Priority will definitely be given to applicants who plan to teach in math, science, special education and bilingual education,” she said. “But we’re also looking for those who want to work in underserved communities or regions that have an especially difficult time filling vacancies.”

Lawmakers allocated the $20 million in the 2016-17 state budget to fund the credentialing program, which was part of Assembly Bill 2122.

The grant program is the latest in a series of recent initiatives launched by the state to help address a shortage of teachers in K-12 schools. Earlier this month, the state awarded $8 million to 29 colleges and universities to help build programs that boost the number of undergraduate students who receive teaching credentials within four years, at the same time that they earn a bachelor’s degree.

SHARE ARTICLE

Comments (12)

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments Policy

The goal of the comments section on EdSource is to facilitate thoughtful conversation about content published on our website. Click here for EdSource's Comments Policy.

  1. Mark 5 months ago5 months ago

    Ann, I will end with this, look at Hattie’s research and tell me the effect size that both teacher education and teacher subject matter knowledge have on student learning. Your simplistic view of this is, yes I will say it again ignorant.

  2. Mark 5 months ago5 months ago

    Ann, you're the uninformed one. I actually have traveled in a program that visited schools in South Korea and then had South Korean teachers visit my school. Quality teachers and the status of being a teacher are definitely a piece, but to put as much weight as you seem to place is, I'm sorry to say ignorant. The cultural expectations in South Korea in terms of the importance of education for children is … Read More

    Ann, you’re the uninformed one. I actually have traveled in a program that visited schools in South Korea and then had South Korean teachers visit my school. Quality teachers and the status of being a teacher are definitely a piece, but to put as much weight as you seem to place is, I’m sorry to say ignorant.
    The cultural expectations in South Korea in terms of the importance of education for children is nothing short of unbelievable. All students do in South Korea is study in and out of school. So in a country where there is a 100 percent literacy, let me promise you that this comes from far more than just the teacher. So until you truly travel to some of these countries and immerse yourself and their educational system, please do no oversimplify things and put down systems that haven’t even started.

    Replies

    • ann 5 months ago5 months ago

      So you agree it's important but I'm 'ignorant' for bringing it up? I see you don't address what happened in the 90's. With regard to cultural expectations, teacher quality is an integral part of increasing the importance and value of education. Read More

      So you agree it’s important but I’m ‘ignorant’ for bringing it up? I see you don’t address what happened in the 90’s. With regard to cultural expectations, teacher quality is an integral part of increasing the importance and value of education.

    • Ann 5 months ago5 months ago

      How strange the moderator would not allow a discussion. I prefer research to anecdote. I have been schools in other countries and dozens in the U.S. There is no doubt that our culture isn’t as hungry for education as in Asia, India etc. But that does not diminish the importance of teacher quality. A mediocre teacher in Asia wouldn’t last.

  3. Mark 5 months ago5 months ago

    Wow Ann, thanks for painting such a "glass half full" view of this initiative. I happened to be one of those teachers, now principal, that was hired during California's class size reduction in the late 90's. If you are so "tuned in" to what makes PISA countries what they are, then you know there is far more to their national success than the teachers teaching the students. It always makes me laugh … Read More

    Wow Ann, thanks for painting such a “glass half full” view of this initiative. I happened to be one of those teachers, now principal, that was hired during California’s class size reduction in the late 90’s. If you are so “tuned in” to what makes PISA countries what they are, then you know there is far more to their national success than the teachers teaching the students. It always makes me laugh when people spout the PISA countries, but most likely have probably never traveled to or studied these nations and their schools.

    Replies

    • Roger Grotewold 5 months ago5 months ago

      Hi Mark,
      It is interesting that you and I both wondered where Ann had gathered her information about teachers recruited in the ’90s. As I mentioned, even here on the EdSource website, we are perhaps being invaded by Facebook types of wild claims and comments. Oh well, actually we know that sometimes claims such as hers have no actual merit. Happy Holidays to you……….MrG

      • Ann 5 months ago5 months ago

        http://www.ctc.ca.gov/commission/files/ctc-history.pdf Start reading on page 339 and you will see the multitude of problems with teacher recruitment that occurred in the mid 90s due to sudden decreased class sizes in lower elementary. Unfortunately it coexisted with the crappy reading instruction that had been dragging out student down for about a decade. Our university preparation has also been shown to be lousy despite the reforms touted by CTCC, and we never made important changes to the … Read More

        http://www.ctc.ca.gov/commission/files/ctc-history.pdf

        Start reading on page 339 and you will see the multitude of problems with teacher recruitment that occurred in the mid 90s due to sudden decreased class sizes in lower elementary. Unfortunately it coexisted with the crappy reading instruction that had been dragging out student down for about a decade. Our university preparation has also been shown to be lousy despite the reforms touted by CTCC, and we never made important changes to the entrance requirements. Here are the ‘Basis Skills” requirement which show the quality of student accepted. http://www.ctc.ca.gov/credentials/leaflets/cl667.pdf “The state cut score for program admissions is low, just 123 out of a top score of 240 on a basic skills test.”! It is regularly acknowledged in education research that the most successful countries recruit teachers from the top 25%. http://hechingerreport.org/after-years-of-reform-california-education-schools-fall-short-on-new-ranking-system/ BTW what exactly is a “Facebook” type”? I’m unfamiliar. Perhaps you meant to identify me as someone who does research regularly and reports on websites that are simply sycophants to a failing system that is endangering our children’s futures.

  4. Jamie Hansen 5 months ago5 months ago

    This is great news! I would add that another Bay Area county received this award – the Sonoma County Office of Education. This is one of many ways our county has been dealing with the teacher crisis.

  5. Jonathan Raymond 5 months ago5 months ago

    This is a great start! It would also be powerful to focus on after school and summer staff – in the expanded learning space. These young people often come from and live in the communities in which they work, have similar backgrounds and experiences to the children they serve, and have a heart for working with our most disadvantaged children. They too are a wonderful pool of talent for becoming teachers.

  6. ann 5 months ago5 months ago

    So once again, knowing that the quality of the teaching force is the big difference between the U.S. and other PISA countries, here is a program that has no requirement for grades or high academic achievement. As with the massive class size reduction that attracted thousands of mediocre candidates to the teaching force in the '90s, most of whom are just now retiring, we will have a less than stellar group who nevertheless will join … Read More

    So once again, knowing that the quality of the teaching force is the big difference between the U.S. and other PISA countries, here is a program that has no requirement for grades or high academic achievement. As with the massive class size reduction that attracted thousands of mediocre candidates to the teaching force in the ’90s, most of whom are just now retiring, we will have a less than stellar group who nevertheless will join the unions and demand higher pay and benefits. Our poor students.

    Replies

    • Roger Grotewold 5 months ago5 months ago

      Gee Whiz Ann, I wonder where you were able to find verifying data that indicates that only mediocre candidates were attracted to the teaching ranks in the '90s. I would appreciate having you show us the data that you used to support that supposition. So often in this Facebook era, it has often been a regular practice to say things without verifying their validity. I don't think we need that practice to invade … Read More

      Gee Whiz Ann, I wonder where you were able to find verifying data that indicates that only mediocre candidates were attracted to the teaching ranks in the ’90s. I would appreciate having you show us the data that you used to support that supposition. So often in this Facebook era, it has often been a regular practice to say things without verifying their validity. I don’t think we need that practice to invade our EdSource Site, which I trust to publish verifiable information…………….MrG gswhiz13@gmail.com

      • Ann 5 months ago5 months ago

        I was there. Did it ONLY attract mediocre candidates? Of course not, but it did not include, nor does this initiative as far as I can tell (nothing on CDE website), any academic requirements passed an AA. And if you really doubt that the countries with the most successful schools and students aren’t recruiting top students as teachers, you are simply uniformed.