California currently ranks last in student-to-teacher ratio.
Over the next 10 years the state will have to replace 106,000 teachers who will be lost to either attrition or retirement, and roughly one-third of those open positions will be in science or math classrooms.
In short, California is facing a massive teacher shortage that is widening each and every school year.
But Manteca Unified School District believes that it may have the beginnings of a solution to start to solve that problem by tapping into its most vital resource – the students they’re tasked with educating.
A new district program currently being developed – Advantage: Future Teacher Pipeline – hopes to provide mentorship to students who believe that they may be interested in pursuing education upon graduation.
On Tuesday, the Manteca Unified Board of Education heard about how the program, which is still in its infancy, has been drawing students to a weekly session on Monday nights to engage them and provide guidance as they prepare to take their next steps in education.
And they’ve got some major resources behind the effort.
A collaborative effort between a handful of Manteca Unified teachers, Sierra High School Vice Principal Andrew Lee and District Administrator Kathy Ruble – who is in charge of the district’s Career Technical Education and STEM programs – have included partners from the University of the Pacific, Teachers College of San Joaquin and San Joaquin Delta College to provide assets that will assist students as they head into their college years.
There’s also the possibility that some future students might get the chance to get some of those college classes out of the way early.
According to Daryl Arroyo of Delta College, discussions have been had about possibly offering general education college courses at some of Manteca Unified’s high schools to give students the chance to get ahead before they enter college and put them even closer towards attaining their bachelor’s degree and teaching credential to make them eligible for the hiring pool.
The collaboration, according to Lee, is paying off and will continue to do so as more students learn about the program.
“I really believe that this is going to help people get excited about teaching and come back to see all of the great things that we’re doing in classrooms at Manteca Unified,” Lee said.
But Manteca High School teacher Steve Grant questioned the return on investment for the district when the cost of a full-time staff position is factored into the equation – roughly $100,000 annually, Grant said, for a program that won’t yield a single teacher for at least five years.
An outspoken critic of the district’s Going Digital initiative, Grant seemed to reference the tablet program – which he spoke out against again on Tuesday during public comments – and drew parallels with the presentation that was made to the board about mentoring students into teaching.
“I think that we’re trailblazing here,” Grant said. “And sometimes we don’t do a good job at trailblazing.”
To contact reporter Jason Campbell email email@example.com or call 209.249.3544.