The state as a whole is experiencing a shortage of teachers, but Latino teachers are in particularly short supply. One major obstacle to boosting their numbers is starkly visible in these figures from Sonoma State University’s School of Education, the biggest local source of teachers.
Last year, 15 Latino students completed the teacher credential program, out of 191 students.
In the previous year, 2013-2014, there were 10 Latino students out of 237 credential candidates who completed the program.
Also, because of a lack of applicants, the last students to go through the school’s bilingual credential program graduated in 2009.
“We’ve sort of lost our pipeline of bilingual teachers, and obviously many of those teachers would be Latino or Latina,” said Esmeralda Sanchez Moseley, principal of the Spanish-English dual immersion elementary school in Agua Caliente.
“When I look at the applicants I see coming into our education program, that’s what I see,” said Carlos Ayala, the school’s dean, referring to the low numbers of Latino teachers in Sonoma County.
In part, it’s a circular problem, he said. Too few Latino teachers mean too few Latino students grow up seeing themselves as teachers and pursuing the profession.
But Ayala and others say the cost of Sonoma State’s and other credential programs is probably an equal factor. SSU’s program costs upward of $6,000 a year.
“I’d never seen $10,000 before because that’s what my parents make in a year,” said Elsie Allen High School Spanish teacher Ricardo Alcala, referring to his undergraduate tuition costs. “And all of a sudden I have to go to the credential program and take out more student loans — you see the impact of that?”
He said scholarships were the only thing that got him through undergraduate and graduate degrees, and the only reason he was able to pursue his credential was generous in-laws.
Ayala has started a program called La Promesa to interest high school students who would be the first in their family to go to college in becoming teachers, and provide them financial support. Also, the school recruited a tenure-track faculty member with dual language expertise.
Another challenge, Ayala said, is that many potential and otherwise qualified Latino credential candidates who were English language learners tend not to do as well on the standardized tests needed for admission.
“I have five Latino students — two from SSU, one from Davis and two from another CSU — they want to give back to their community, they want to teach, they want to live locally, and they’re struggling” with the California Subject Examinations for Teachers, he said.
“These folks have degrees, these folks are going to be great teachers, but there are these obstacles put in front of them that have nothing to do with how good a teacher they will be,” he said.
SCUSD will have a particular problem with this because of their relatively low starting salary for teachers and due to the need of urban school districts to recruit and retain a more diverse teaching faculty.Some 21 % of the district students are English Language Learners and some 72 % of the district students receivedfree or reduced priced lunch ( and indication of family income). The students in the district are 37 % Latino, 17.4 % Asian, 17.7 % African American, and 18% White (Anglo).
The district has long had difficulty recruiting faculty who are representative of the languages and cultures of the students. Hiring new teachersat this time may well make this lack of representation worse.
CSU-Sacramento was a major source of minority teacher hires prior to the economic crisis of 2008/2009 and the Great Recession.Sac State hadthe largestBilingual/Multicultural Education department in the northern part of the state which produced substantial numbers of Latinos and Asian teachers.However the BMED department that organized and directed bilingual teacher preparation was eliminated by university decision in 2010.Without a program focused on recruiting and supporting future minority teachers, the teacher pipeline of Latino and Asian future teachers dropped from being some 35 % of Sac State credential graduates to less than 7 %. (https://sites.google.com/site/chicanodigital/home/the-creation-and-demise-of-bilingual-education-at-csu-sacramento-2) Sac City Unified and other local urban districts will each be recruiting from a sharply reduced pool of minority teachers, possibly creating another generation ofAnglo domination of the local teaching profession.
The most direct way to recruit new teachers skilled in the teaching in diverse classrooms is to recruit new teachers from these communities.
While European American teachers can certainly learn to teach in language minority and diverse schools,they can acquire cultural competence, the direct way to change the composition of a district school staff is to recruit teachers from the local communities.The significant and unfortunate failure ofleadership in teacher preparation at Sac Stateimposes yet another obstacle to SCUSC achieving its diversity hiring goals and its student achievement goals.