Throughout the Bay Area, teacher shortages remain one of the most challenging and enduring issues schools face, affecting the quality of education students receive.
Many students are being taught by new, inexperienced teachers or by substitutes working on emergency teaching credentials, meaning they may lack the training to effectively teach a class.
Even as the state continues to face thousands of teacher vacancies each year, the number of people who receive teaching credentials drastically decreased last school year, leaving little hope for a swift resolution to this pressing issue.
Downtown College Prep Alum Rock High School’s principal Joyce Davis noticed the lack of teachers at the small charter school just before the start of last school year.
Davis was shocked to find that the class schedule showed multiple teacher positions in core subjects as “to be determined.”
“It was scary,” Davis said.
Lacking biology, chemistry, and other core subject teachers at the charter school in East San Jose left administrators scrambling to find people to fill classrooms. Many times, administrators themselves were the ones overseeing classes.
“I was subbing classes, my leadership team was in classes … Our central office people came to be in classrooms teaching because we did not have [teachers],” Davis said.
According to a 2023 report by the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, California had more than 10,000 teacher vacancies statewide in the 2021-22 school year.
The commission reported the number of people issued teaching credentials in 2021-22 dropped by nearly 25%, to the lowest level in five years.
The acute teacher shortage means students next school year will once again have to deal with a parade of substitute teachers and online learning solutions.
Jesus Cano, a recent graduate of San Jose High School, dealt with a rotating set of substitute teachers in his mathematics class this year due to the lack of teachers at his high school. Three months into the school year, Cano and his peers still had no regular math teacher.
“It affected how I was learning,” Cano said. “My grades started dropping, and I had to [constantly] adapt to the new teachings of different teachers.”
Cano says he had three substitutes teaching his math class that kept “switching back and forth” in the subject material throughout the school year. That didn’t work out well for him or his peers, he said.
Moses Yimer, an incoming senior at Abraham Lincoln High School in San Jose, also dealt with substitutes in his classes for an entire semester last school year.
Yimer said a friend faced an especially challenging year in their mathematics class which was being taught by a substitute teacher.
“He didn’t have a teacher to teach him,” Yimer said. His friend struggled so much to the point that they ended up failing the course and having to enroll in summer school to recover credits, Yimer said.
“It sucks for students especially since they’re missing out [on] the point of classes,” Yimer said. “No one’s there to teach them.”