OCDE earns state grant to help classified employees become credentialed teachers

Here’s one way California is responding to a statewide teacher shortage: OCDE and two dozen other agencies have been awarded grants to help classified school employees pursue their teaching credentials.

The California Classified School Employee Teacher Credentialing Program, established by the state Commission on Teacher Credentialing, has freed up a total of $20 million to be divided among participating organizations.

Teacher with students in a classroomOCDE is one of them, leading a consortium that includes the San Diego, Imperial and Butte county offices of education. Collectively, these agencies have secured funding for 100 applicants, or 10 percent of the total.

The idea is to help classified staff — this group includes instructional assistants, bus drivers, clerical workers and other non-credentialed employees — who want to become classroom teachers but still need to complete the necessary academic requirements. Along with offsetting tuition costs, the program was designed to specifically target candidates with school experience.

“I see this as really helping individuals who have a passion to be a teacher but for financial reasons haven’t been able to realize their dreams,” said Judy Levinsohn, administrator for OCDE’s Institute for Leadership Development.

Successful applicants can receive as much as $4,000 a year to cover tuition costs for up to five years. But Levinsohn noted that some prospective teachers have already amassed a number of credits and could enter the workforce sooner.

“I do think this is an amazing opportunity,” she said. “We want people who understand the challenges as well as the joys of what a teacher’s responsibilities and demands are.”

Expect to hear more about this one. In the meantime, KPCC Southern California Public Radio (89.3 FM) has a feature on the program here, and EdSource has a story here.

[Updated at 9:45 a.m. on Jan. 18: The application materials have been shared with local school districts and must be completed by classified employees by no later than Jan. 27. For more information about the program, contact Judy Levinsohn at JLevinsohn@ocde.us.]