College of Education experiences decreased students but expects future growth

State Hornet Staff

The College of Education at Sacramento State has experienced a decreasing number of students, but believes it will receive more applicants due to the state’s improved fiscal situation and an increase in demand for teachers in California.

According to Sac State’s Office of Institutional Research, between 2008 and 2012 the college saw a 39 percent decrease in the number of graduate students from 1,967 to 1,208. The one-year teaching credential program also decreased from 913 to 393, which was a 43 percent drop.

Despite the decrease, Pia Wong, chair of the teaching credential program, said the enrollments in the basic teaching credential program has been stable for the past two years.

“I think this will occur because teachers who may have wanted to retire in the last five to seven years, but could not because of losses in their retirement funds may be looking at a more positive picture now and may feel that they can reconsider putting off retirement,” Wong said.

According to a study done by the Institute of Education Sciences, a large portion of kindergarten through 12th grade teachers in the state are reaching retirement age, which will have a strong impact on school staffing.

The study said over the next decade, Sacramento County will lose 45 percent of its teachers because of retirement.

However, Wong said she believes districts will have more resources and will be able to hire more teachers.

Proposition 30, passed by California voters in 2012, raised income taxes on the wealthy and sales taxes on everyone for seven years to better fund public schools. The proposition also helped create more stable jobs for teachers.

In 2012, more than 20,000 teachers in California districts received preliminary pink slips, a potential layoff notice. In 2013, approximately 3,300 pink slips were distributed.

Wong said with the significant dip in pink slips and community awareness, it appears the opportunities in teaching are increasing.

Special education professor EunMi Cho said students are now enrolling in the dual credential program to become better candidates for teaching positions.

“This is a new trend I observed,” Cho said. “Teacher candidates want to make sure they are well equipped to teach with two credentials for all students.”

Although people may believe teaching jobs are scarce, Wong said the outlook for teaching is looking better.

According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the need for elementary and middle school teachers is expected to grow by 17 percent in the country due to enrollment increases and declines in student-teacher ratio.

Sac State alumnus Anarbol Urtado completed the teaching education program in the spring.

“I was aware that the job market for teachers wasn’t looking too good, but I knew I wanted to be a teacher since I was young,” Urtado said. “I was staying positive. I wasn’t intimidated.”

Urtado was hired as a Spanish teacher at Granite Bay High School. He believes students who complete Sac State’s teaching credential program will have an advantage in finding jobs because they will come out more prepared.

“I wouldn’t say I am lucky,” Urtado said. “It was just the right time for me.”

Teaching positions in high schools are only expected to grow by 7 percent, which slower than average.

Wong said the standards for teaching in California are also being implemented within the program, including Common Core. Approved by the California  Board of Education, the new standard will define the knowledge, concepts and skills students are expected to  acquire at each grade level.

Since 2010, more than 40 states have adopted the Common Core standards. According to the California Department of Education, having the same teaching standards will allow all students to gain a quality education, whether they move school in or out of state.

Dehisy Valencia, 23, is currently in the Multiple Subject Bilingual and Cross-Cultural Language and Academic Development Emphasis Credential program.

“Although there has been a decrease in the demand for educators in the state, I think with all the changes going on nationwide with Common Core and the changes in state standards and education in general, teaching is changing and the demand will change.” Valencia said.

Although she has been intimidated by pink slips and job security, Valencia is hopeful in the teaching job market will improve.

Cho said students who want to become teachers will find a way to accomplish that goal regardless of the difficulties.

“Teaching is not just a job, rather it is a commitment,” Cho said. “Teachers are very special people who know how to make keys to unlock bright futures for their students. Not all people can or should be a teacher. Regardless of our economic situations, we want to train our teacher candidates to be the very best ones in California. If you want to teach and know that you will be a good teacher, there is a way.”