Courtesy Sebastian Hurtado
High school senior Sebastian Hurtado, right, got hands-on research experience and learned about a career in medicine during a summer intern program at Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute.

In appropriating nearly $1.5 billion over five years for career technical education opportunities, the Legislature made an assumption that funding would make them happen.

That’s probably true for students, who are enrolling in high school programs in intriguing fields like drone technology, bioengineering and digital arts. What’s not certain is whether there will be enough teachers with the expertise to staff them.

“Without question, there is a shortage of teachers trained with the knowledge and skills to deliver” the technical courses that are part of every career pathway program, said Gary Hoachlander, president of ConnectEd, the California Center for College and Career, a leading force behind the state’s massive push for career technical education.

Staffing challenges were a theme this week at a policy conference in Sacramento of the Linked Learning Alliance, which promotes multi-year high school programs that integrate college preparation and career exploration. The programs include internships and work-based projects with affiliated businesses and industries.

The alliance scored a big victory when the Legislature created the California Career Pathways Trust in 2013 and 2014, with $500 million in funding to seed regional partnerships and expand career pathway programs statewide. The Legislature followed this up last year by creating the California Career Technical Education Incentive Grant, a three-year, $900 million matching grant program to further develop career technical education.

With the state already facing teacher shortages in high-cost regions like the Bay Area and Los Angeles and in high-demand fields like special education and science and math, filling career-specific positions in new pathway programs creates more demands.

Most career academies are discrete programs within high schools. They focus on a theme within one of 16 industry sectors, including civil engineering, the media, fashion design, and health and medical technology. Starting as freshmen or sophomores, students take core academic subjects and a course – led by a teacher with a CTE credential – providing real-world applications like digital animation, gene splicing or flight simulation.

The new state money is powering the boom in districts’ career pathway programs. Oakland Unified, which passed a parcel tax specifically to expand career technical education, plans to enroll every student in a pathway program within five years. The number of career technical education courses that count toward admission to the California State University or the University of California, usually as an elective, now exceed 10,000 – quintuple the number a decade ago. Nearly 250 school districts and 600 high schools currently offer about 1,200 career pathway programs and thee-year career academies, according to the Linked Learning Alliance.

There is no accurate estimate of the shortfall of career technical education teachers. In part, that’s because districts haven’t been asked to include unfilled CTE positions in an annual fall teacher employment survey, said Joan Bissell, director for teacher education and public school programs for the CSU. The California Department of Education has been asked to include this information in future surveys.

Verifying a shortage of career technical education teachers could prompt the Legislature to target CTE teachers in legislation it’s considering to entice more people into teaching, Bissell said. The bills include:

  • SB 62, which would restart a state program, called APLE (Assumption Program of Loans for Education). It would forgive school loans for new teachers who commit to low-income schools or teach in subject areas with shortages. Teachers who pursue a CTE credential along with a basic teaching credential could be considered a high priority for assistance.
  • SB 933, which would fund year-long teacher residencies for new teachers working under mentor teachers. There could be placements in linked-learning settings.
  • SB 915, re-establishing the California Center on Teaching Careers, a statewide recruitment and information system for new teachers. There could be public service ads highlighting exciting career tech opportunities.
  • AB 1756, which would fund state universities establishing programs offering undergraduate degrees combined with a teaching credential. Priority funding could be given to universities that prepare high school teachers who can also teach CTE.

Creating incentives and making it easier for new and existing teachers to obtain dual teaching credentials, qualifying them to teach a CTE course and a single subject high school academic course, like math, history or English, is the ideal way to solve the CTE shortage, Bissell said.

Theresa McEwen, executive director of the College and Career Academy Support Network at UC Berkeley, agreed. “We want teachers with both a CTE and an academic credential to provide the bridge to prepare students who are college and career ready,” she said at this week’s conference.

The intent of career academies and pathway programs is to blend academic and CTE courses. Students in an English class in a green technology pathway might research global warming. A history class might explore how fossil fuel dependence has shaped federal policy. A biology class might design and evaluate a solution to reduce human impact on the environment.

Reflecting the traditional view that vocational teachers train students for jobs, and academic teachers prepare students for college, California’s credentialing requirements for CTE teachers are different than those for academic teachers.

A preliminary single subject teaching credential requires a year or two of course work, an undergraduate degree, student teaching, passage of a subject-specific exam and a teaching performance assessment. Most teacher candidates get their credential through the CSU, the UC or a private college.

Obtaining a CTE authorization to teach a course in a specific industry sector requires only 3 education courses, along with 3,000 hours of job experience, which can be reduced to 1,000 hours for someone who has been a teacher and has industry certificates. The vast majority of the 1,244 individuals who earned a CTE credential last year went through programs at county offices of education, not four-year universities.

“CSU is not accustomed to partnering with county offices,” said Jared Stallones, a professor of education at the Cal State Long Beach College of Education. “We need to work together.”

Only three CSU campuses currently offer CTE credentials, but Bissell said she foresees opportunities for dual credentialing and more partnerships, such as the arrangement between Fresno State and Porterville Unified to place student teachers in career academies.

Faced with a pressing need for CTE teachers, Oakland Unified has identified 30 teachers who had worked in industry and are interested in a CTE credential. Teacher teams will be earning their 1,000 hours of industry experience through time allotted during the school day and summer “externships” – paid positions with a consortium of companies and government agencies, including Bay Area Rapid Transit, Pandora, SunPower and Adobe, said Donna Wyatt, manager of curriculum and instruction for career technical education for the district.

Finding mid-career changers

The opposite approach is to build the supply of CTE teachers by hiring individuals ready to move from industry to teaching with more expertise than teachers can get though 1,000 hours of work.

There are significant challenges to recruiting career changers, said Patricia Rucker, a lobbyist with the California Teachers Association and a member of the State Board of Education.

One is money. Particularly in the areas of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math), schools can’t easily compete with high-tech companies, and mid-career changers face a potentially big pay cut, often tens of thousands of dollars. Compounding the problem – what she called a “big barrier to recruitment” – is a federal regulation, which Congress has known about for years but not changed. The “windfall elimination penalty” hurts mid-career changers by significantly reducing Social Security payments for people also entitled to a teacher pension.

Another challenge is a lack of on-the-job training for new CTE teachers. They haven’t had student teaching experience and, unlike academic teachers with a preliminary credential, don’t qualify for mentoring through the Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment program. That should change, Rucker said.

Some industry partners send employees into the schools to lead courses. For 20 years, Joe Carpenter, a Northrop Grumman engineer, taught computer-assisted design in a Long Beach Unified career academy on his own time, working late on days that he taught. When he retired, Carpenter became a full-time CTE teacher with the math and science career academy. “The advantage that I always enjoyed in teaching my classes, having come from industry, was being able to put my lessons in the proper context for my students,” he said in an email.

Carpenter is the exception, said Cynthia Bater, the program administrator for Long Beach Unified. She said the district is “looking every which way” to find CTE-qualified teachers, and the shortage is slowing down the ability to roll out all of the pathways it would like to open or expand.

Rucker said that the Commission on Teacher Credentialing should make it easier for engineers and others in math careers to obtain a preliminary credential, with five years to then obtain their full or “clear” credential. Jillian Johnson-Sharp, an administrator with the Orange County Department of Education, said the commission should establish a special credential for an engineer-turned-CTE teacher to teach math in a career pathway.

The goal of preparing students for college and careers requires rethinking how to recruit and train teachers for schools that blend academic and work-based learning, the panelists agreed.

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  1. Dennis "Walt" Walters 1 year ago1 year ago

    To all, a good conversation. A few points: To Fred, I had heard a few districts did, in the past treat a CTE, then Voc Ed credential as a Master's. As the past Caucus chair for the NEA Voc Ed/CTE Caucus, this is not just in California. To John's and Ray's input, they know what is really needed and we can't give it, is old hands on training. And as Ray … Read More

    To all, a good conversation. A few points: To Fred, I had heard a few districts did, in the past treat a CTE, then Voc Ed credential as a Master’s. As the past Caucus chair for the NEA Voc Ed/CTE Caucus, this is not just in California. To John’s and Ray’s input, they know what is really needed and we can’t give it, is old hands on training. And as Ray has been saying for years at CDE advisory meetings, “If this was Boeing, they’d have it fixed in a week or two.” And Wendy’s comment to Dennis: Dennis you are not alone either. This is similar to stuff I had heard, and met with folks in Washington, D.C., regarding Perkins. And as in the article, several folks mentioned the pitfalls. Patricia and Jillian. And Tyler’s issue just cropped up, and he is not alone. So how do we all get together and make a statement/contact SOMEONE to get this handled NOW. I have had at least 4 CTE directors contact me to help find teachers to get their Pathways programs going.

    Good conversation. Keep up the pressure.

  2. John Chocholak 1 year ago1 year ago

    Left out of this piece are the comments and professional connections related to the major "SHOP" teacher organizations in this state. I make reference to the California Industrial and Technology Education Association (CITEA), California Auto Teachers Association (CAT), and the Manufacturing Technology Teachers Association (MTTA). These organizations have a handle on what SHOP programs are still alive at the 7-12 grade level and the community college level. They also are well aware of the inability … Read More

    Left out of this piece are the comments and professional connections related to the major “SHOP” teacher organizations in this state. I make reference to the California Industrial and Technology Education Association (CITEA), California Auto Teachers Association (CAT), and the Manufacturing Technology Teachers Association (MTTA). These organizations have a handle on what SHOP programs are still alive at the 7-12 grade level and the community college level. They also are well aware of the inability of schools to find industry-experienced, specific “SHOP” area professional teachers with a degree and credential to replace retiring instructors and successfully teach an industry-approved “SHOP” class.

    I am talking about “SHOP” classes such as Machine Shop, Welding, Auto, Drafting, Wood, Construction and Electrical/Electronics. These are the base courses that produce trained individuals that industry in California (and the United States) need in order to survive in a world economy. With only 1 CTE teacher in the pipeline (and that person may not even be a qualified “SHOP” teacher) we, in this state, are facing the final failure of a system that 40 years ago had a leadership role in this country for training industry ready individuals able to take on the requirements of creating, producing, servicing products and training the next generation of professionals to take their place when they retire.

    That system is about gone, and no one is stepping up to fix the situation except the CITEA, CAT and MTTA, and no one in state government and the California Department of Education appears to be listening to these professional organizations.

    College is important but “SHOP” classes in our educational system will control the future of qualified industrial job placement of the individuals that will save our economy.

  3. Brian Ausland 1 year ago1 year ago

    Interesting that given a key focus of this article is on the need for basic teacher induction and orientation training for those wanting to bring their industry experience to the classroom, there is no mention of the statewide CTE Teach Online Early Orientation program developed with over $5 million dollars of funding by the California Dept. of Ed and operating over the last 7 years as administered via County Offices throughout the state. Worth noting … Read More

    Interesting that given a key focus of this article is on the need for basic teacher induction and orientation training for those wanting to bring their industry experience to the classroom, there is no mention of the statewide CTE Teach Online Early Orientation program developed with over $5 million dollars of funding by the California Dept. of Ed and operating over the last 7 years as administered via County Offices throughout the state. Worth noting that almost every agency electing to cite this as a great area of need, generates considerable amounts of their budget by drawing in these types of legislative dollars through programs and services they package and peddle. Would love to see us not abandon a vetted, verified program we’ve already spent so many tax-payer dollars on, to start from scratch with something entirely new.

  4. Paul 1 year ago1 year ago

    Fred's comments about California public school district teacher pay scales are spot-on. The system adopted by all districts is based on full years of full-time, contract, non-substitute-status K-12 teaching experience. Since work outside education is ignored, a career-changer who wanted to teach -- in any field, not just CTE -- would be kicked back to a beginner's salary. If, as is common for career changers, the person spent a few years doing substitute teaching as … Read More

    Fred’s comments about California public school district teacher pay scales are spot-on. The system adopted by all districts is based on full years of full-time, contract, non-substitute-status K-12 teaching experience. Since work outside education is ignored, a career-changer who wanted to teach — in any field, not just CTE — would be kicked back to a beginner’s salary. If, as is common for career changers, the person spent a few years doing substitute teaching as his or her entry point, that work would also be ignored.

    On a separate note, please, no BTSA for CTE teachers! That extra requirement would drive even more candidates away.

  5. Dennis 1 year ago1 year ago

    OMG! ROPs started and did this ALL with huge success for the past 50 years. What's funny is that some academic folks (who have been whittling away at ROP funding --- because it was there --- for the past 6 years) think they just invented the concept. Ever hear of SDS credentials? Oh well, interesting how cycles repeat about every decade or so in public education. It can be expected … Read More

    OMG! ROPs started and did this ALL with huge success for the past 50 years. What’s funny is that some academic folks (who have been whittling away at ROP funding — because it was there — for the past 6 years) think they just invented the concept. Ever hear of SDS credentials? Oh well, interesting how cycles repeat about every decade or so in public education. It can be expected that in a few years the legislature will wonder why none of these “new” programs have any job placement data available. Then they’ll find that there were no pre-program-implementation job market analyses or majority business and industry-required advisory committee members. Then will come requirements imposed on academies and other faux-CTE programs, just like ROPs have been doing as standard operating procedure for 45 years. Oh well, around and around we go.

    Replies

    • Wendy 1 year ago1 year ago

      Academies have rigorous reporting requirements and our advisories are directed by the industry reps who sit on them. Maybe your experience is with poorly run academies, but acacemies that are following the law have far more stringent operating and reporting criteria than most other education programs.

  6. Suzanne 1 year ago1 year ago

    Tyler, there may be a work around for your obstacles. Please contact me, I’d like to advise you of possible options to obtain a CTE credential. Look for my name and contact information here:
    http://hr.sweetwaterschools.org/hr-staff/

  7. Fred Jones 1 year ago1 year ago

    In addition to your excellent summary of barriers:

    Higher education (primarily CSUs) have largely dismantled their CTE credentialing programs (there’s one Industrial Tech candidate in their pipeline statewide, despite the average age of shop instructors nearing 60!);

    And the K-12 system is controlled by locally bargained agreements that place mid-career changers at a huge disadvantage in terms of steps-columns pay.

    Replies

    • Fred Jones 1 year ago1 year ago

      Just to elaborate a little on my steps-&-columns point: Teacher salaries are collectively bargained by the teachers' union and school district, and all of them have resorted to a steps & columns pay structure. The more experience (in the classroom) a teacher has, the more steps they go up in the salary schedule; likewise, the more higher education degrees a teacher has, the further along the columns. But this compensation approach doesn't value a mid-career changer. … Read More

      Just to elaborate a little on my steps-&-columns point:

      Teacher salaries are collectively bargained by the teachers’ union and school district, and all of them have resorted to a steps & columns pay structure. The more experience (in the classroom) a teacher has, the more steps they go up in the salary schedule; likewise, the more higher education degrees a teacher has, the further along the columns.

      But this compensation approach doesn’t value a mid-career changer.

      So, for example, say someone with 15 years of experience in the high-tech field wants to pass along her/his unique and valuable industry experience to eager students wanting to pursue a high-tech career pathway. None of that person’s industry experience would count in the traditional steps & columns bargained structure.

      That person would have to begin at the very bottom of the pay schedule (and that’s after they have done the necessary schooling and programmatic requirements to earn a teaching credential, which is largely irrelevant to whatever training and education a mid-career changer has).

      So our current K-12 system provides little incentive for someone with valuable industry experience to come to the classroom and teach the next generation of California workers and entrepreneurs.

      • John Fensterwald 1 year ago1 year ago

        Thanks for the explanation, Fred. Do you know if districts have cited CTE teachers’ specialized knowledge to shield them from last-in, first-our layoffs?

        • Fred Jones 1 year ago1 year ago

          I’m not aware of a single district and local bargaining unit that has made any exceptions for CTE instructors, John.

  8. Tyler 1 year ago1 year ago

    The challenge for teachers getting a CTE credential is the 1000 hours. For the last eight years, I've been teaching full time. My industry experience from before that doesn't count. I'm expected to get 1000 hours of experience when? Even working full time during the summer would only account for 350 hours. School districts don't make it easy to have another job with difficult schedules and summer trainings. I've done summer externships, attending trainings, conferences, … Read More

    The challenge for teachers getting a CTE credential is the 1000 hours. For the last eight years, I’ve been teaching full time. My industry experience from before that doesn’t count. I’m expected to get 1000 hours of experience when? Even working full time during the summer would only account for 350 hours. School districts don’t make it easy to have another job with difficult schedules and summer trainings. I’ve done summer externships, attending trainings, conferences, field trips, and other experiences totaling 600. In addition, teachers like myself, have to pay $900 for a “how to teach” class from CSU and another $250 in tests to prove our knowledge. I’m currently teaching a STEM program and now CA has changed the law to force a new credential. This is a major challenge.

  9. Raymond Elledge 1 year ago1 year ago

    Verisurf 3D Software company develops and sells dimensional metrology software supporting machining, fabrication and engineering. That is inspection, measurement, analysis and reverse engineering software used for manufacturing aircraft, spacecraft, ships, trucks, trains, wind turbines and so forth, the list goes on and on. The need to provide a pipeline for industrial and commercial companies for hiring skilled entry level technicians has never been higher. Thus Verisurf has developed education curriculum and material for schools to … Read More

    Verisurf 3D Software company develops and sells dimensional metrology software supporting machining, fabrication and engineering. That is inspection, measurement, analysis and reverse engineering software used for manufacturing aircraft, spacecraft, ships, trucks, trains, wind turbines and so forth, the list goes on and on. The need to provide a pipeline for industrial and commercial companies for hiring skilled entry level technicians has never been higher. Thus Verisurf has developed education curriculum and material for schools to offer quality control training programs for pathway programs to feed ever growing customer demand. However CTE teachers are also in demand and the pathways for Industry skilled persons to become CTE instructors is greater than envisioned.

    With a high percentage of current CTE instructors near retirement and roadblocks stopping skilled industry professionals to becoming CTE instructors, the need is urgent to develop CTE instructor pathways to schools. Organizations, such as CITEA, California Industrial Teachers & Educators Association had approximately 4,500 CTE instructors 25 years ago, that number is down to roughly 250 members.

    Another fact to bring to light is such companies such as Boeing is facing 43% of their workforce being eligible for early retirement within the next 5 years, as does their entire supply chain. The need is urgent and continuous to to develop industry to college pathways for CTE instructors, as is the need for skilled entry level quality control technicians and machinists.

    Realizing 60% of the manufacturing workforce is hands-on blue collar employees, 10% engineering, 10% quality control, 10% executive and 10% staff, the time has come for apprenticeship programs by developing apprenticeship programs with colleges working with regional industry advisory groups. One such program was recently introduced by André Schaller, Ambassador, Consulate General of Switzerland at an HTEC regional expo. Another prime example is Desert View High School in Tucson AZ. Industry advisory supporting the school with pathway hiring programs, the pathway pipeline, by having the school do projects for students to learn from, with the students taking that knowledge with them into the work place by direct job placement. We look to our leaders in Education to reach out to industry for partnerships developing a strong industrial base and thus creating a strong tax base feeding the educational system.

    Ray Elledge
    Education program manager
    Verisurf 3D Software Company