What is SB 807, the Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act of 2017?

Introduced by Senator Henry Stern (D-27) and Senator Cathleen Galgiani (D-5) on February 17, 2017, this legislation addresses the current and growing teacher shortage in California – which is negatively impacting students and schools across the state, particularly our neediest students – by helping novice teachers afford required training and incentivizing great teachers to remain in  the classroom in schools serving low-income students, all while recognizing their significant contribution to the children of the State of California.


What does the legislation do?

The legislation provides a tax credit to help new teachers pay for training required to be a teacher. SB 807 is designed to elevate the teaching profession while filling a critical need to attract and retain great teachers amidst California’s statewide teacher shortage.

SB 807 also seeks to keep teachers in the classroom with our most underserved students by reducing California income tax on teachers in low-income communities. The tax reduction would would be applicable for years 6-10 of teaching.


What problem does the legislation address?

California is facing a critical teacher shortage across the state, particularly in classrooms with our most disadvantaged studennts, and the goal of this bill is to dramatically increase the supply of good teachers by encouraging teachers to enter and remain in the profession. Having effective teachers in every California classroom is imperative, as great teachers lead to better educational outcomes, better jobs and a better California economy.

The shortage is acute and is projected to get worse with the impending wave of Baby Boomer retirements. However, the problem is bigger than retirements alone. Districts report that the shortage is widespread across disciplines, grade spans, and geographic regions, and stems from the shrinking supply of new teachers and teachers constantly leaving the profession. Nationally, studies have shown about 30% of teachers leave teaching within their first five years and the turnover rates is about 50% higher in high-poverty schools.

Not only are teachers retiring from the profession, according to data from the California State Teacher Retirement System, teachers leave the profession at a rate six times greater than other public employees, and 50% faster than first responders to other jobs in the labor market.


What are the consequences of teachers who leave the profession at rates faster than other professions?

First, there is a high financial cost to teacher turnover. Taxpayers—through government support for public colleges and student financial aid—invest in training costs that are often never recouped when teachers leave prematurely. Districts pay a substantial cost to recruit, hire, and train a steady stream of new teachers. According to analysis of district turnover costs by the Commission on Teaching & America’s Future, the costs for a district of recruiting, hiring and training a new teacher average around $11,500 per teacher. And the highest-poverty districts shoulder an even greater burden because they have the highest rates of teacher turnover. High-need schools must continually invest in recruitment efforts, professional support, and training for new teachers without reaping the benefits of many of these investments.

Teachers are the most important factor in children succeeding in school. Studies have shown that students with well-trained, effective teachers sustain significant lifetime economic gains and reduce societal costs. It’s intuitive, professionals get better through training, development and experience. SB 807 will encourage teachers to stay and grow in their profession, so they can continue to positively shape student’s futures and California will sustain long-term economic gains.


How does this bill address these problems?

This legislation sends a message to teachers that they are valued by all Californians. The work they do in shaping our future generations is critical, challenging and worthy of special recognition and praise. Right now, many policies and financial incentives for teachers do not reflect that.

Teachers report various reasons for leaving the profession, including lack of support or feeling undervalued. Teachers also report they leave or choose other professions for economic reasons such as low salaries, the high-cost of housing and the cost of ongoing required training and directly contribute to the difficulty in recruiting talented new teachers into the profession.

SB 807 addresses these problems with a bold investment to demonstrate the state values teachers and is encouraging teachers to stay in the profession by effectively giving teachers who serve low-income communities a tax cut in years 6-10 of years of teaching. The bill also helps eliminate some of the financial barriers to entering the field by helping teachers recoup their financial investment in required training.

This legislation is designed to stop the flow of teachers leaving the classroom in our neediest schools and incentivize students to consider teaching as their career.

SB 807 follows a simple formula: Investing in well-trained teachers = better academic outcomes, better jobs, and a better economy.


What are the long-term benefits of this plan?

By reducing teacher turnover and increasing the number of effective teachers who remain in the classroom in our most disadvantaged communities, school and other public costs will be reduced. For example, a 50% decrease in turnover saves school districts an average of $123.5 million annually by avoiding the costs of recruiting, hiring and training as many new candidates.

We project an uptick in positive educational outcomes for students by having effective teachers stay in the classroom. Based on the fact there are non-permanent, rotating adults currently teaching over 155,000 students in California classrooms, filling these vacancies with well-trained teachers would boost economic gains for those students by $270 million annually. And higher educational attainment saves money. For example, it decreases the school-to-prison pipeline, saving $71,000 to house one state prisoner a year. A 2% reduction in institutional incarceration will save the state $167 million annually.