One of the greatest gifts we can give our youth is the opportunity for a quality education. The growth of knowledge and the maturing of life skills becomes one of the best guarantees for the achievement of personal and societal success.
In turn, the most effective way to achieve this goal of offering a good education is to have qualified and prepared teachers in the educational work force committed to their profession.
In California, however, there is a growing shortage of qualified teachers. This difference is often felt most in the most challenging districts, with high numbers of students coming from families living in poverty.
New teachers entering the work force also experience significant financial hardships as they are required to enroll in costly induction and professional development programs aimed at converting their preliminary credential to a permanent or ‘clear’ credential, which must be done within five years of earning their preliminary credential. All of this is required of new teachers while they are also still paying off student loans and serving at the lowest end of the salary scales.
These induction programs can have an average out-of-pocket cost of $2,000 annually for programs run by local educational agencies that charge fees, and up to $5,000 annually in fees at a college or university.
Furthermore, while California requires new teachers to enroll in these programs, it does not require districts or schools to provide or pay for these programs. In the end, these hardships affect not only the teachers but the students they serve, through failing to support, develop and retain qualified teachers.
Additional measures are needed in order to assure that our new teachers are given the appropriate preferential option that supports their development and commitment in their noble profession, which in turn translates to better service and better education of our youth.
AB 586, sponsored by the California Catholic Conference, will respond to this need by lessening the financial hardship of newly credentialed teachers as they participate in earn their clear or permanent credential. This will have the effect of improving teacher retention and professional development, and therefore can be a significant measure in boosting the overall success of California’s K-12 students.
AB 586 will do this by allowing newly credentialed, beginning teachers either an individual tax credit or a deduction for professional development expenses to fulfill the requirements for a California Clear Multiple, Single Subjects Credential or Special Education (Education Specialist Instruction) Credential. These teachers would be able to claim either up to a $500 credit or $2,500 deduction on their personal state income taxes to offset fees incurred toward the completion of an approved Induction Program.
Illustrating the need for this legislation, a study by the Learning Policy Institute showed that in recent years, California has significantly increased the number of intern credentials, permits, and waivers it has issued. According to the study this number “more than doubled” between the years of 2012-13 and 2015-16. These were issued to teachers who had not finished or had not yet started their credential programs and hence did not qualify for a clear or permanent credential.
According to the Learning Policy Institute, “The greatest growth has been in emergency-style permits known as Provisional Intern Permits (PIPs) and Short-Term Staff Permits (STSPs).” Additionally, enrollment in teacher preparation programs “remains near historic lows.”
As the greatest guarantee for student success and flourishing is aiding in the development of good teachers, given the current situations, the modest yet meaningful provisions of AB 586 are a necessary and needed response to regain the quality of education in California.