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California’s growing teacher shortage is reaching crisis levels. Attracting new teachers is becoming increasingly difficult as the profession has failed to remain competitive with rising living costs, and older teachers are retiring in droves. However, California has a fairly radical new solution to both attract new teachers and increase retention: Two California state senators, Democrats Henry Stern of Los Angeles and Cathleen Galgiani of Stockton, have co-authored a California bill, SB 807, that offers K-12 teachers financial incentive to stay in the profession longer. To encourage them to continue teaching beyond the traditional burnout period of five years, California teachers would be exempt from paying state income tax, and receive reimbursement for any additional state-mandated training. That exemption would go up even higher after six years, and would grandfather in teachers who have already been working in the field.   

The Teacher Recruitment and Retention Act is the first of its kind in California and in the country. This would be the first time a state has considered eliminating income tax for an entire profession. And while there are critics who argue that it singles out one profession to the exclusion of others, teaching is one of the professions in which employees do not receive overtime pay for the many additional hours they put in, where there is not a great deal of financial upward mobility, and where schools often face budget cuts that require them to work harder for the same pay.

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