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Growing teacher shortage has local education leaders concerned

Cal Poly School of Education

A powerful name in education along the Central Coast is expressing concern this week over California's teacher shortage.

Santa Barbara County Superintendent of Schools Bill Cirone said the problem is clearly based on supply and demand, with the supply of new teachers at a 12-year low, and the amount of students enrolled in education preparation programs down 70 percent over past the decade. 

He said increasing teacher retirement and non-retirement attrition are also big factors.

Dr. Kevin Taylor is the Director of the School of Education at Cal Poly and said mass retirements throughout the state are going to be a problem.

"Those are just starting to hit. And they will hit very hard in the next five to ten years," said Taylor. "So what we need to do now is really ramp-up our efforts to enroll student-- qualified students-- in credential programs."

He said Cal Poly is planning to expand its credential programs and make them more accessible to a variety of people.

Taylor said society needs to value teachers, but cultural change takes time.

"I think the most powerful, immediate step that could be taken is loan forgiveness," said Taylor.

There is currently a bill in the state legislature to bolster the loan forgiveness program in California, specifically for teachers who serve in a high needs area.

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