KCSOS beefs up its efforts to attract new teacher candidates amidst an educator shortage in Kern County
Spring marks the start of teacher recruitment season for schools vying to fill vacancies for the upcoming academic year.
There is a dire teacher shortage in California and things are pretty pronounced here at home, said Toni Smith, KCSOS assistant superintendent of Human Resources. She estimates there are roughly 600 teacher vacancies throughout Kern’s 47 school districts for the 2016-17 school year, many more than in past years.
A combination of an aging workforce and impending retirements, population growth and a downward trend in candidates pursuing teaching credentials over the past decade has contributed to the deficiency.
Recruiters representing a record 41 school districts started their searches in earnest on the morning of April 9 when KCSOS hosted its 16th annual Teacher Recruitment Fair. 550 prospective teacher candidates — more than double last year’s attendance — filled the Larry E. Reider Education Center for the event.
For the first time, a portion of the event was open to job seekers who held a bachelor’s or higher, but not a credential. These are prime candidates for long-term substitute teaching opportunities. Counselors were on hand to advise these candidates on how to become teaching certified.
“We are hearing from more district officials who are expressing their concerns and asking for our support,” Smith said. “We are taking steps that we feel will help build the local teacher pipeline over time.”
One strategy is direct outreach to people who are seeking a second career because they have been laid off from a previous position. This is particularly acute in the local oil industry wherein many people with advance degrees are out of work due to falling oil prices.
Smith says KCSOS has been working in partnership with companies to provide their outgoing employees with resources and support.
Human Resources is also collaborating with KCSOS’s Teacher Development Program.
Prospective Teacher Information Sessions are now offered monthly, rather than quarterly and are designed to give second career candidates, bachelor’s degree holders and college students a one-stop shop to learn about the teaching profession and be linked to resources to assist them on their pathway to teaching.
“There are definitely increased opportunities for qualified teachers. That is the primary message we are trying to get out to the public,” said Tania Schalburg-Dykes said, coordinator for the Teacher Development Program.
The info sessions takes aspiring teachers through a checklist of the steps needed to become a credentialed teacher, before opening up the floor to representatives from local teacher preparatory programs like CSU Bakersfield.
“We want to inspire individuals who want to go into teaching and educate them about how to follow that dream,” Schalburg-Dykes said.
Two sessions remain this year — April 21 and May 24. Sessions take place from 5:30 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. at the Superintendent of School’s downtown Bakersfield headquarters located at 1300 17th St. Registration is not required.
For more information, call Schalburg-Dykes at 661-636-4367.