California Progress Stopped in Its Tracks

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A new report from California's Center for the Future of Teaching and Learning points to pervasive inequalities in the distribution of Golden State Teachers. Aside from its grim but unsurprising conclusions about the distribution of under-prepared teachers, one thing that stood out about the CTL report is that many aspects of teacher preparation had been trending in a positive direction prior to California's budget crisis. For instance, the number of underprepared teachers declined from 41,713 in 2001-02 to 37,300 the next year. The percentage of first year teachers who were underprepared in 02-03 also declined significantly, dropping to 42% from 53% a year before. Many of the programs that had led to these gains--such as the granting of fellowships or loan forgiveness for new teachers willing to work in hard-to-staff schools--have been cut in the wake of California s budget crisis.

The details of the CTL report note that students in high minority population schools are five times more likely to get "under-prepared" teachers than students in mostly white schools. Those in high poverty schools are three times as likely to face such teachers as students in low poverty schools. In schools with low achievement, the ratio is 4.5:1; in schools with large ESL populations, it's 2:1; in schools with large numbers of students in special education, it's 4:1.