How Can We Have a Teacher Shortage?

Mike AntonucciBreaking NewsLeave a Comment

When last we beat this dead horse, we learned that California has a teacher shortage, no matter how many teachers we hire.

Something about a distinction between “filling vacancies” and solving shortages.

This morning we went a step beyond, discovering that we can lay off almost 2,000 teachers and still have a teacher shortage.

How to explain this apparent paradox?

This year, Gov. Brown proposed a minimal 2.1 percent increase for K-12 education in January, which educators said would not be enough to cover districts’ increasing salaries, benefits and costs.

Districts negotiated compensation increases beyond their ability to pay, leaving them no choice but to reduce the number of people to whom they pay that higher compensation.

That might be a bad thing, but if 2,000 teachers are laid off, aren’t they then available to be hired elsewhere during this catastrophic teacher shortage, perhaps even in areas of greater need? That could be a good thing, couldn’t it?

A state Senate bill to address the teacher shortage has gotten a lot of national play. It would exempt teachers from paying California state income tax if they remain in the classroom for five years.

I don’t know if this will rid us of the teacher shortage, but I’m in favor of it anyway. The next step should be to exempt police officers and firefighters from the income tax. Then construction workers and farmers. Then everyone else.

Mr. Antonucci may be contacted at

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