Number Of California Teachers Reaches Record Low

Number Of Teachers Is Lowest In A Decade

First-grade teacher Nicole Ledesma said becoming a teacher had always been a lifelong dream.

"It's very rewarding," says Ledesma.

But nowadays that's no longer enough to convince people to become a teacher.

A recent study by the Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning says the number of public school teachers has reached a decade low, losing 18,000 teachers in the last two years, leaving less than 300,000 teachers in the state.

The Bakersfield Elementary Teachers Association says locally, the Bakersfield City School District has gone from 1,672 teachers in 2003 to 1,457 teachers in 2010.

"You know it's tragic. We need more of them," said Ledesma.

The study says state budget cuts are to blame. $20 billion in cuts to California's education program in the last three years has meant less money to employ teachers or provide the current ones with resources they need to teach. Fewer teachers means more overcrowded classrooms.

"Towards the beginning of the year was difficult. Each first grade class was six over their limit and when you get to those numbers (your job) is more about management and trying to control the class. It makes it difficult to reach every student," said Ledesma.

"At this point with budget cuts and cuts to teachers compensations and increases in their workload, fewer people are attracted to the profession," said BETA president Brad Barnes.

Barnes says overcrowded classrooms, a decreasing number of teachers, resources and budget means a decreasing quality of education for our children.

"It concerns me greatly about the future of our society. There'll be fewer people qualified for high skilled jobs. That's going to affect the future production in our society," said Barnes.

Barnes says with more and more teachers retiring and not enough people becoming teachers, don't expect the numbers of teachers to go back up anytime soon.

"In coming years the teacher shortage will be back again, probably worse than ever," said Barnes.

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