San Francisco Unified launches 1-year teacher credentialing program

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Desperate to hire more qualified teachers, the San Francisco Unified School District launched a 1-year credentialing program. (KGO-TV)

Desperate to hire more qualified teachers, San Francisco Unified is now in the business of offering a credentialing program.

The concept is not new. Los Angeles and the Mount Diablo Unified School Districts already have their own programs.

At the beginning of the school year the San Francisco Unified School District didn't have enough teachers with full credentials. The solution was is to accept those with emergency teaching permits who are working to achieve that. "It is so important to get the highest quality, most qualified people in front of our children in San Francisco," San Francisco Unified School District spokesperson Chris Canelake said.

Because of the great recession, teaching jobs were lost from 2008 through 20012 and layoffs discouraged potential newcomers. "It's not viable if you don't know from year to year if you are going to have a job," United Educators of San Francisco spokesperson Susan Solomon said.

Several local universities offer credentials and among them are UCSF, Stanford and USF, but the district has come up with a faster and less expensive credentialing program called Pathway to Teaching authorized by the California Commission on teacher credentialing.

Here's how it works: Candidates receive online and on site individual training and must spend six weeks teaching during the summer. Instead of being taught by college professors, classes will be offered by staff who know the credentialing process. "The advantage we feel that they could have over other programs is that they'll be taught directly by the people who manage professional learning in the district," Canelake said.

The fee is $5,000 payable to the district, less than what it would cost elsewhere. The teachers union has some reservations about the program. "We'll see how it goes, but what are the implications for that if you are paying your employer to be trained," a teacher's union member said.

The school district hopes the program will help increase the number of positions in areas like bilingual and special education.

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