Help for Out-of-Work Teachers

For a teacher who is new to the profession, a layoff caused by the state budget crisis can bring a career to a halt.  Teachers with the least seniority are the first to be laid off, often as they are still progressing from a preliminary credential to the coveted professional clear credential.  Without a job, they cannot complete the classroom field work needed to earn the clear credential.  But a new Alternative Induction Pathway initiated by the Long Beach Unified School District and the California State University Chancellor’s Office is trying to change that.

With the help of $850,000 committed over the next two years by private foundations (and possibly more private funds on the way), nearly 100 out-of-work teachers this fall are continuing their professional development, including field work in LBUSD classrooms.  The result is that these teachers are working toward their clear credential without having to pay the $4,000 or so per teacher it would otherwise cost.

“Many of the participating teachers, who were discouraged and unsure where to turn after being laid off, have expressed deep appreciation for this opportunity to remain engaged in the profession,” said Lori Grace, program coordinator for LBUSD’s Beginning Teacher Support and Assessment (BTSA) program.  “We hope that when our schools eventually hire more teachers, these participants will remember Long Beach, and in turn Long Beach will gain many highly trained professionals.”

Participants include teachers who were recently laid off, day-to-day substitutes and others who have just graduated from the College of Education at Cal State Long Beach but haven’t found a job.

Funding for the Alternative Induction Pathway comes from the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation and the James Irvine Foundation.  Bechtel is focused on elementary and middle school, emphasizing science, technology, engineering and math.  Irvine is focused on secondary single subject teaching, emphasizing the Linked Learning effort that combines college prep academics with real-world career experiences.

The idea for the Alternative Induction Pathway originated in a meeting between LBUSD and CSU officials, where school district leaders lamented the potential loss of a generation of enthusiastic new teachers who had already invested considerably in their education and on-the-job training.

Within a few weeks during the summer, CSU worked with LBUSD and private foundations to secure funding for this fall.

“We were so thankful that CSU understood the urgency,” said LBUSD Deputy Superintendent Christine Dominguez, “and they trusted that Long Beach would implement a high quality program.  That speaks volumes about the good reputation of our schools.”

As part of Alternative Induction, participants are paired with a mentor teacher.  This helps reduce student-to-teacher ratios at a time when class sizes have swelled due to budget cuts. 

Participants teach in an induction mentor’s class for 60 hours over three months, completing assessments and submitting portfolios.  Participants also attend workshops and seminars provided by LBUSD, and they have access to online professional development and other support.

Alternative Induction holds promise as a statewide model as CSU and California school districts search for ways to retain highly qualified teachers in the profession.

Learn more about Beginning Teacher Support here.

DERON