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Teacher Shortage Crisis Provides Career Opportunities

A U.S. teacher shortage is providing opportunities for college students to more easily find a career in education post-graduation, and Biola University’s School of Education is preparing current students to enter these open positions as soon as possible. In the most recent academic year, more than 50 percent of Biola’s fall 2016 secondary student teachers were hired before they completed student teaching — a fact that highlights the need many school districts are facing.

A report released last fall by The Learning Policy Institute on teacher supply, demand, and shortages in the U.S. indicates that the supply of new teachers is at a 10-year low, and the estimated nationwide shortage of about 60,000 teachers in 2015–16 could grow to 112,000 by 2018.

“By 2020, an estimated 300,000 new hires will be needed and by 2025, that number will increase to 316,000. If current supply trends continue, the shortage would reach 112,000 teachers annually by 2018 and remain close to that level thereafter,” according to the report.

Due to a decline in students enrolling in teacher preparation programs between 2009 and 2014, district efforts to reduce classroom size, increasing student enrollment and high teacher attrition, California is one of many states facing a teacher shortage. The lack of teachers ready to enter the field has created a high demand for teachers across the nation and a need for students to enter into teacher preparation programs immediately.

June Hetzel, dean of Biola’s School of Education, shares her perspective in this Q&A on the shortage and how Biola’s School of Education is preparing teachers for areas that are experiencing the greatest need such as special education and secondary education teachers in the subjects of science and math.

A new report based on data from the Department of Education has found that there is a teacher shortage crisis. Was this expected?

In California, we could certainly have predicted the current teacher shortage. Back in 2008, when the economy crashed and California started increasing class sizes, we experienced teacher layoffs. As teachers got laid off, the community response was to redirect career goals away from education towards other career paths where jobs were waiting. The severe reduction in the number of teachers being credentialed across the state led to the current teacher shortage. Interestingly, while many other universities in California experienced declining enrollment, Biola's School of Education teacher education programs experienced growth.

What does this mean for current undergraduate students or prospective students considering a degree in liberal arts education?

Sign up for a credential program with your electives! Or, better yet, sign up for the liberal studies major if you want to teach in elementary education or sign up for the special education program if you want to teach students with special needs. Or, if you like early childhood education, consider our Child Development Permits. We have these programs at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Your jobs will be waiting for you and you can join the esteemed ranks of thousands of Biola teachers who are already in the field locally and globally, serving in rewarding educational ministry in PreK-12 education.

Current university students who are training for their credential will have a job waiting for them when they complete their degree and credential. It would also be important to note that any major at Biola University can earn a credential, utilizing their elective space, and the School of Education will introduce them to districts who are ready to hire.

Based on your understanding of the crisis, is this a nationwide crisis or only affecting certain areas?

There is a nationwide shortage of highly qualified special education teachers, as well as math and science teachers. Biola recently launched a special education credential (8 courses online, plus student teaching) which can be taken from anywhere in California. Additionally, in Fall 2017, we are launching an online M.S. in Special Education. This online program is special because you can fold in the credential courses and work on your master’s program. Additionally, you will be placed in a research cohort with a professor where you have the opportunity to research, write, and publish with your professors.

California is experiencing a shortage of teachers in most subject areas as baby boomers are retiring. In the 2016-2017 school year, California needed 22,000 new teachers. We still have needs in many school districts.

According to the report, the shortages are particularly severe in special education, math, science, and bilingual or English-learner education, as well as in locations with lower wages and poorer working conditions. What is Biola doing to prepare students for these unique areas?

When you matriculate through Biola's teacher training program, you will be placed in high-performing, low-income school districts. In every school district, our Biola students serve in multilingual, multicultural environments, experiencing the rich diversity of the Southern California population. Additionally, Biola students may apply to do half of their student teaching in California and half of their student teaching overseas. This also enriches the breadth and depth of cross-cultural, multilingual contexts. Students who are bilingual and bicultural have specialized skillsets with which to serve our communities.

Additionally, professor Lorena Vidaurre launched our Early Childhood Concentration several years ago and this has become a popular concentration in our liberal studies major. When students earn their CTC-approved Early Childhood Permits and their Multiple Subject Credential, along with their degree, they are extremely marketable for transitional kindergarten (TK) classes and as primary grade teachers.

Any additional comments you may have based on the data or for future teachers?

There are four major socializing influences in our society: the home, the church, the school, and the media. Satan is very busy in these four arenas. Serve as a teacher and enjoy a lifetime of ministry, bringing Christ's light into the classroom every day. I've always said, ‘Teaching is so fun, I can't believe they pay me to do it,’ and it is the most wonderful platform for ministry. For example, I could work in a church and have two hours life-on-life contact on Sundays with the children, or I can work in a school and have 30-40 hours of contact a week with children and their parents. It’s the most rewarding ministry ever!

Find out more about Biola University’s School of Education.

Written by Jenna Loumagne, manager of media relations. For more information, contact Jenna at (562) 777-4061 or

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