A status quo budget for CTC is a sign of better times

A status quo budget for CTC is a sign of better times

(Calif.) For the first time in several years, the Commission on Teacher Credentialing will have a status quo budget with no special grants, no new authority to hike fees and no extraordinary cost-saving measures.

The governor’s January spending plan would provide an operating budget close to $26.4 million to the state’s primary standards board for educator training and professional conduct.

Although the figure represents a sharp decrease from 2016-17 of about $14.3 million, most of the lost funds are associated with one-time money set aside to help with several projects including a multi-year, $35 million effort to help close the teacher shortage.

The governor’s plan includes $5.6 million to be spent on legal services that will be provided next year to the commission by the California Attorney General’s office for a large number of remaining educator misconduct cases.

The fact that Gov. Jerry Brown didn’t propose any new money or new initiatives to improve the state’s shortage of teachers–especially within special education–has drawn some criticism.

But administration officials have pointed out that last year, three major programs were launched aimed at making it easier for university students to become credentialed in California, as well as grant money to directly support school employees becoming teachers.

It should also be pointed out that Brown’s plan for the CTC would add two new full-time positions giving the agency a total of 141 employees–which represents the first additions to their workforce since before the recession.

Recent years have been trying times for the CTC, one of the few state agencies that generally self-funded.

As a result of the recession and the subsequent layoff of thousands of teachers statewide between 2008 and 2014, the number of new recruits entering the profession fell by more than half. Because the fees paid by new teachers are one of the largest sources of funds for the CTC, their budget collapsed as well.

Enrollment in teacher preparation programs grew about 10 percent in 2014-15 and there are signs that this year will be even better.

That said, many districts across the state struggle to get all the credentialed personnel they need. As many as 75 percent of districts report having some level of shortage, especially in special education, according to a survey from the Learning Policy Institute–led by Linda Darling-Hammond, a professor of education at Stanford University and chair of the CTC.

“In California, these shortages are impacting districts serving low-income and English learner students the hardest, but even affluent districts are struggling to recruit and retain high-quality teachers,” said Hammond in a statement shortly after the governor released his budget. “Addressing this crisis effectively is going to take research-based teacher recruitment and retention strategies supported by the state and adapted to each district’s specific needs.” 

Other highlights from the CTC budget include:

  • Authority to spend $310,000 for continued support of the commission’s update of its computer system, which is expected to be finished at the end of FY 2016-17; and
  • Authority to spend $509,000 to hire two permanent staff to support ongoing investigators into educator misconduct and provide case preparation to the higher standard needed by the Attorney General to take cases to trial.

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