Governor Signs Portantino’s Bill Addressing Teacher Shortages & Benefiting Language Immersion Classes

Thursday, September 29 2022

For Immediate Release: September 29, 2022

Contact: Lerna Shirinian, (818) 409-0400


Governor Signs Portantino’s Bill Addressing Teacher Shortages & Benefiting Language Immersion Classes

Sacramento, CA – Senate Bill 941, authored by State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D – Burbank) seeks to address California’s teacher shortages and to improve student learning environments, was signed by Governor Newsom.  SB 974 would authorize school districts to locally determine inter-district collaboration for courses related to STEM and dual language immersion.  The bill was inspired by comments the Senator received from parents in the Pasadena Unified School District during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The issue of teacher shortages continues to impact kids and their learning environment,” stated Senator Portantino.  “SB 941 is a very simple solution and I am grateful to Governor Newsom for signing this bill.  It allows local schools to collaborate without any red tape.  As a result, it will provide a great alternative to class cancellations and emergency teacher credentials.   An empty seat has the same cost as a filled one.  So, if one district has an available spot in a classroom and another district has a student in need, let’s cut out the bureaucracy and allow these districts to easily work out cooperative arrangements.”

During the 2017-18 school year, 80% of California school districts faced a shortage of teachers.  Nine out of ten school districts stated that the shortage was getting worse.  A recent report on school districts around the state by the Learning Policy Institute found that the most pronounced shortages include math, science, and bilingual education and are more prevalent in rural areas, communities of color, and low socioeconomic areas. 

"We are appreciative of the Governor for signing SB 941 because it makes tools available to local education agencies to create valuable pathways and offer courses in STEM and dual immersion that will support student learning, especially in our small and rural communities," said Dr. Edgar Zazueta, Executive Director of the Association of California School Administrators.  "The current teacher shortage is making things more challenging for our students and school communities and anything we can do in this state to support students is worth doing."

Currently, local educational agencies can accept transfer students through the District of Choice program.  Students can transfer to another school district that participates in the program through a random, unbiased selection process that is not dependent on academic or athletic performance, physical condition, or English language proficiency.  The pronounced shortage of STEM and dual-language immersion teachers necessitates specific collaborations between school districts for these courses.

"SB 941 is an exciting opportunity for districts to find creative ways to work together and strengthen their programs and impact,” stated Jane Potelle, PUSD Dual Language Immersion Program Parent. “These past few years have proven to be challenging for students with academic learning loss, but especially for the dual language student. When students no longer master the language, they have trouble absorbing any instruction, regardless of the subject.  As language immersion parents we're hopeful that districts will take advantage of SB 941, communicate with other neighboring districts providing similar programs, and create ways to overcome these educational losses for the benefit of language immersion students throughout the state.  According to the George Lucas Educational Foundation, learning new languages ‘increases cultural awareness, empathy, and tolerance of other people.’ During such polarizing times having robust dual language programs strengthens education and our communities.”

SB 941 would authorize the governing board of a school district, a county board of education, or the governing body of a charter school to enter into an agreement with one or more local educational agencies to offer individual classes to pupils from other local educational agencies who have been impacted by disruptions, cancellations, or teacher shortages in STEM classes, or dual-language immersion programs.  The bill would require the department, on or before January 1, 2028, to evaluate the success of these local educational agency collaborations.