Recruitment & Retention

Ed Schools Target New Source of Recruits

By Brenda Iasevoli — November 11, 2016 3 min read
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With education school enrollment down across the nation, universities are looking within to recruit future teachers to their programs.

At California State University, Sacramento, professors tapped 300 of the school’s students to become teachers. The call to the profession came in a letter declaring that the recipient had the “qualities to become an outstanding teacher” and inviting the student to a “Celebration of Teaching Event” to learn more about the university’s education program, reports The Sacramento Bee.

About 200 students turned up for the event where the university’s president, Robert Nelson, forewarned that a 106,000-teacher shortage would hit the state’s schools over the next 10 years, according to The Sacramento Bee. “We desperately need to increase the number of teachers and we need to do it now,” he told the crowd.

The university’s recruitment effort tackles a few goals at once: It combats the education school’s declining enrollment, helps to rebuild the teacher workforce in a local school district suffering from shortages, and makes it easier to find more diverse candidates by recruiting from the university’s overall student body.

“The diversity of our teaching-prep program doesn’t match the diversity of the university,” said Stephanie Biagetti, chairwoman of the teaching credential program. “This is a perfect way to recruit from within.”

Of the 200 potential teacher candidates at the event, half were Latino, 20 percent Asian, 8 percent African-American, 8 percent white and the rest listed as unknown, according to university spokeswoman Elisa Smith.

But can such efforts convince students who, as research shows, choose their majors primarily based on job security and earnings potential during economic downturns? The challenge for education schools is to present the teaching profession as a more secure career choice, one that will result in a steady job that can pay the bills.

Here’s what education schools are up against. Fewer students across the country are choosing teaching as a profession, an effect experts blame on the unprecedented number of teacher layoffs that occurred after the Great Recession, which began at the end of 2007 and continued through mid-2009. The periods with the biggest declines in teacher-prep enrollment nationwide were in the 2011-2012 and 2012-2013 school years, according to U.S. Department of Education data released earlier this year. Teacher layoffs were delayed until after the recession due to a steady decrease in federal support that had for a time propped up state budgets, according to a September 2016 report by the Center for American Progress think tank.

In order to ensure students find employment after graduation, ed schools, including the ones at Cal State’s Sacramento campus, Arizona State University, and Marian University in Indiana, are highlighting high-demand teaching positions in local districts in special education, math, science, and other subjects. Arizona State University’s and Marian University’s education schools are also setting their sights on recruiting high school students to the teaching profession.

Through Arizona State University’s “Student Today, Teacher Tomorrow” program, students in grades 9-12 can earn up to $2,000 to attend ASU’s teacher college. The university’s goal is to increase the amount of freshman scholarships to $600,000 each year.

Kenith Britt, the dean of Educators College at Marian University, said he’s looking to partner with local high schools to get students thinking about a career as an educator. He plans to send graduates into high schools to talk with students about the rewards of teaching and how they can plan their path to an education degree and certification.

As for Cal State, Sacramento, its effort to recruit students to its education program seems to be working so far. Enrollment is up slightly, according to The Sacramento Bee, from a low of 370 candidates in 2013-2014. Last year, 400 credentialed teaching candidates earned degrees from the university.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Teacher Beat blog.