California school districts have long anticipated they would be scrambling to fill teacher jobs once boomer-age teachers began retiring. But combine that with declining enrollment in teacher credentialing programs and increased state funding for new hires, and you've got "the perfect storm," said Donna Glassman-Sommer, a Tulare County Office of Education administrator who handles teacher recruitment.
“We have heard that there is a teacher shortage coming and it started to hit last year, and it’s kind of snowballed right now," she said. "What they have predicted has arrived."
A recent state report found that candidates in teacher preparation programs declined for the 12th consecutive year. The number of new teachers is down 26 percent over the past five years.
Interest in teaching fell following recession-era budget cuts that also drove many experienced teachers from the field. Some university students who had sought degrees in education changed majors to pursue more secure careers.