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EdSource: California adding apprenticeships to teacher recruitment toolbox

"Apprenticeships are being added to the long list of initiatives California has undertaken in recent years to address its enduring teacher shortage. State leaders hope that the free or reduced-priced tuition and steady salary that generally accompany apprenticeships will encourage more people to become teachers," writes Diana Lambert of EdSource.

These rapidly expanding programs, which are pioneered by Oakland-based Reach University, offer free or reduced-priced tuition along with a steady salary, aim to attract more individuals to the teaching profession. Apprentices complete their bachelor's degree and a teacher preparation program while working in a support staff role at a school, gaining valuable clinical experience alongside their coursework for teaching credentials.

"It opens up the pipeline to teaching for folks who are hired into the school district,” said Joe Ross, president of Reach University, a nonprofit that operates a teacher apprenticeship program. “We have people at Reach who are in positions such as janitors, working in the lunchroom, working in the office. The majority are teacher’s aides, but you have this entirely larger, until now, really overlooked pool.”

Teacher apprentice Ja'net Williams helps with a math lesson in a first-grade class at Delta Elementary Charter School in Clarksburg. Photo credit EdSource. California has joined 30 other states in launching registered teacher apprenticeship programs, under the guidance of the federal government. These apprenticeships, approved by the Labor Department or state apprenticeship agencies, follow an "earn-and-learn" model, offering increasing salaries as apprentices progress through coursework and assume more responsibilities.

Research indicates that apprenticeships and similar "grow your own" programs contribute to diversifying the educator workforce. Community-recruited school staff through apprenticeships often mirror the demographics of the student body more closely than traditionally trained teachers. Additionally, apprenticeship programs boast a 90% retention rate, addressing the persistent issue of teacher turnover.


Affordability is identified as a key consideration for candidates of color, as highlighted by Shireen Pavri, assistant vice chancellor of the Educator and Leadership Program at California State University. Clinically rich preparation programs, like apprenticeships and residencies, not only attract more candidates of color but also retain them in the field longer, contributing to increased diversity in education.

The article features the experience of Ja'net Williams, a 48-year-old paraeducator at Delta Elementary Charter School and Reach University teacher candidate, who has always aspired to become a credentialed elementary school teacher. Williams, who could not afford a conventional preparation program, joined the teaching apprenticeship program at Reach University to pursue her dream without accumulating significant debt.

“I was looking at different options,” said Ja'net Williams, a 48-year-old paraeducator at Delta Elementary Charter School and Reach University teacher candidate, who has always aspired to become a credentialed elementary school teacher. “It came down to, it’s affordable. I’m a mom. I have a daughter in Sac State and one that will be starting at Sac City (College) next year. So I want to help them financially as much as possible, and take off the burden for them. So I couldn’t take on, you know, $40,000 of debt for myself when I would want to put that toward my children.”

"After completing her teaching credential, Williams plans to continue to work at Delta Elementary Charter as a teacher. 'I want to stay here,' she said. 'This is where my heart and soul is.'"


Read the full article here.



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