Unstable job market, preliminary exams lead to a drop in enrollment

Kristopher A. Fortin

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The College of Education’s enrollment dropped 113 students in the 2008-2009 school- year from its peak two years ago, and will continue to drop in the coming years.

An unstable job market for teachers, specifically in the Los Angeles Unified School District, and CSU requirements for students to pass preliminary examinations before they can be enrolled has fueled the drop in enrollment, said Harry Hellenbrand, CSUN provost and academic affairs vice president.

On top of the California budget crisis prompting CSUs to cut enrollment, CSUN will cut its enrollment by 2,400 students for the 2009-10 school year.’ The ailing job market for teachers has fueled the two-year decline in the College of Education despite a growing demand for teachers expected in the coming years.

‘We’ve been ordered by the state of California to bring it down,’ said Hellenbrand.

There will be a stricter interpretation of the qualification policy, a decrease in the incoming freshman and transfer group, and students will be encouraged to graduate as soon as they accumulate enough units, Hellenbrand said.

A study done by the Regional Educational Laboratory called ‘Trends in California Teacher Demand: a County and Regional Perspective’ said Los Angeles has the lowest projected demand for new K-12 teachers at four percent of its current workforce over the next decade.

Even though demand for teachers in Los Angeles is relatively low, the same study also said that California will have an increase in demand for teachers, specifically in California’s Central Valley (North and South San Joaquin Valley and Upper and Sacramento Metropolitan Valley) and Inland Empire (Riverside and San Bernardino Counties.)

For example, Riverside will need to compensate for 59 percent of its current workforce because of retirement.

The department with the second largest enrollment in the Education College’mdash;Education Leadership and Policy Studies’mdash;has also dropped in enrollment by 301(150 – Average) FTES from two years ago.

Another college being affected is Humanities. ‘A liberal arts degree has a value but not an applied value,’ Associate Dean of Humanities Elizabeth Adams said because Humanities majors’ options are limited usually to teaching jobs.

Gender and Women Studies decreased in enrollment this year too because, since it changed its name from Women Studies between semesters, it wasn’t easily traceable in the schedule of classes Adams said.

The targets set for FTES in departments can be overambitious or conservative, Director of Institutional Research Bettina Huber said, so it’s not a good indicator of the status of the enrollment. Rather, historical trends can measure the health of a college or department.