Hope In This Recession: UC Irvine Education Program

“No one ever went into teaching to get rich.”

The first, disheartening line of the ABC news brief detailing the decline of interest in jobs in education released on July 5, 2010 provides a bleak sentiment.

Teachers throughout California are getting laid off in a massive sweep of pink-slips, while funding for education grows slimmer and prerequisites and qualifications for educators continue to heighten.

Our state has been hit extremely hard by this series of unfortunate events.

According to an online edition of PBS’ “NewsHour,” California ranks 46th in the nation in spending per pupil and average teacher salaries. The state shells out roughly 3.8 percent of its funds for education.

With the turning of the teaching tide, a ripple of discouragement has permeated this arena of employment.

Director of Teacher Education and Student Services Judi Conroy, who was featured in Forbes Magazine this past week concerning these pressing issues, does not deny the rough patch the sector is enduring at the moment.

“Classes are getting bigger and the funding is worse than it has ever been, so in that respect it’s not a happy time,” Conroy said.

Yet Conroy, who founded and directs the Single Subject Credential Program here at UCI, remains extremely optimistic given the current situation, and challenges the notion that folks are losing interest in teaching jobs.

“People aren’t seeking more jobs in the private sector necessarily, because there is still a pretty steady flow of people wanting to get into the program and get into teaching. The same things that have drawn people to teaching against much opposition are still the reasons for interest to this day,” Conroy said.

One of the most attractive aspects of work in education is the satisfaction, she goes on to say, highlighting the fact that those going into law, medicine or other lucrative areas of employment may not end up with the results that were expected.

“People can sometimes be disappointed. Those impulses that cause people to go into law and medicine to help the underprivileged or the sick might become attenuated when they go into the profession with $100,000 in loans,” Conroy said.

She also deems pension packages to be another aspect of interest for teachers. Most educators receive impressive benefits including full medical and dental care, and this, Conroy explains, is an extreme asset given the time of economic strain.

The program she runs, called the Single Subject Credential Program, gives optional master’s degrees for about two hundred UCI students. The program spans over a 15- month period, and offers multiple single (and multiple) subject credential programs.

Interest  remains  high  in  the  program,  and  Conroy  keeps  her  firm  stance  on  the  positives  of  becoming  an  educator.

“There  are  reasons  to  be  bummed  out,  but  I  don’t  think  it  will  deter  people  from  going  into  teaching.  Teachers  will always  be  needed,”  Conroy  said.