Stipends, jobs for student teachers needed to diversify California’s teaching force

By Jarod Kawasaki, Center X researcher, EdSource

California requires 600 hours of student teaching, nearly double the requirement of other states. Student teachers are not paid and student teaching typically lasts for an entire academic year. Thus, most teacher candidates cannot work and student teach at the same time (or it is very difficult to do so). Taking a year off of work is a barrier for potential teachers, especially teachers of color, wanting to enter the teaching profession.

Every person in California preparing to become a teacher needs a $20,000 stipend to offset tuition costs and living expenses to complete student teaching. Those training in such programs also would benefit from a job as a teaching assistant or substitute teacher in the public school district where they are completing their student teaching. This is essential to have teachers in the classroom who look like and understand the histories, knowledge and experiences of California’s public-school students.

California is the most ethnically and racially diverse state in the nation with nearly two-thirds of the populace being Black, Asian American or Latinx. Yet, our teacher workforce does not mirror this diversity: Only one-third of teachers are from a community of color. A 2018 Learning Policy Institute report described how a diverse teacher workforce can have a positive effect on the academic achievement and overall educational experience of students of color. That same report however showed that the burden of additional student loans can discourage people of color from pursuing a teaching career.