State teacher shortages are not what they seem.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen a mass teacher exodus for a variety of issues. We had the “Great Teacher Resignation” of frustrated teachers quitting teaching.
For those teachers who couldn’t quit, a wave started “quiet quitting.” Not sure what that is? No worries! Watch the video below after reading this article.
Covid has changed things! However, it’s not the root of the teacher shortages we are currently experiencing. It’s not even close!
Even before covid, 300,000 teachers and school support staffers were quitting the teaching profession every year. With numbers like that the United States was clearly on its way to meeting the definition of a teacher shortage. That is, not enough teachers in the main subject areas.
The virus has for sure contributed to the growing number. But we can’t blame it for the state of education now.
Here’s Part of the Truth About Teacher Shortages (2022)
The first fact is that we are for sure experiencing teacher shortages and it’s only going to get worst before it gets better. I don’t think anyone needs a crystal ball to see that.
Here are a few obvious factors that have contributed to the current shortages:
- fewer college students majoring in teacher education programs,
- a growing student population,
- and a growing number of teachers retiring.
At the heart of at least two of the above factors, is the low teacher pay. Teachers are paid 21% less than other career paths that require a college degree.
Now many teachers will tell you, that it’s NOT a money issue. At least it’s not a money issue alone. I liked the way one teacher put it:
“I resigned at the end of last year with 16 years of experience. In all honesty, I don’t think that anyone who “walks away” from teaching leaves for just one reason. Often, we’re struggling with multiple challenges, and it becomes too much to take. I considered leaving for several years before I finally made the leap. Here were my top 5 reasons for taking a break:
- Lack of accountability for student behavior.
- Lack of accountability for admin who doesn’t support their teachers.
- Lack of accountability for parents who refuse to parent their children.
- Physical and mental health.
- And I’d like to know what it’s like to be treated like an adult at work because too often we are held to the same expectations as the kids- just wanna use the bathroom!”
There you have it! It’s not one thing, it’s all the things. And as a teacher, I would have to totally agree with my fellow educator. Issues relating to the teaching profession have been ignored for way too long.
That is a perfect lead into the next point.
The Whole Truth Behind the Teacher Shortages (2022)
For every state and every school district that is experiencing these shortages, the following is also true:
- There has been a teacher shortage in special education going on longer than all of this.
- The number of college students studying special education has been in decline forever.
- Special education teachers have long experienced being overworked.
- Special education teachers had routinely been pulled to cover other teachers’ classes.
Why is this so important? Well, I am a special education teacher for one. I’ve seen and experienced “all the things” before it became a problem for all the teachers. But the real takeaway is that when we fail to acknowledge the burdens of a few it can easily snowball into the burdens of many.
I wholeheartedly believe this is where we are in the state of education and, therefore, if we don’t apply it to greater society, then the struggles, ill-treatment, or whatever of a few will turn into burdens of the masses. We ignore things way too much in our country.
I know those above statements may be hard to swallow. But I encourage you to allow them to digest. Moving on…
A 2016 study by the Learning Policy Institute projected a shortage of 316,000 teachers by 2025… “a projection that would represent more than 8% of the present teaching workforce of approximately 3.7 million teachers.”
The top States with Teacher Shortages (2022)
According to Universities, an online news site, here are the top states with teacher shortages:
7. Washington, D.C.
Nevada students started school on August 8, 2022, with a shortage of over 1400 Teachers.
Georgia is attempting to recruit retired Teachers – with little success
New Jersey is implementing a pilot program to allow individuals with workforce experience to pursue a Teaching Certificate even if they don’t have the grades or higher education requirements
New York City announced new investments into the education system to help remedy the teacher shortage. From large incentives to recruit retired educators and those who left the profession to accelerating the teacher certification process and providing school districts with billions in funding.
Daly City, California is offering affordable housing to their Teachers with greatly reduced rent prices
School districts across the country are planning to spend billions on staff retention, attrition, bonuses, and pay increases.
The U.S. Department of Education partners with school districts across the country to address the teacher shortage – full press release ed.gov
Where are the teachers going that’s causing the shortage?
Although many are feeling guilty and they should NOT (Read this if you are.), some are going into other careers. They are learning to repurpose their skill sets. Many are finding that they can do many things that benefit corporate America. Some are doubling their salaries or see a clear path where that will happen in a short amount of time.
Others, like me, who are passionate about teaching start small schools. They get to keep teaching, but on their terms. I discussed how to start a school here.
I am confident that we will get through this period stronger and better, however, I am not saying that there will not be scars and tears. We, teachers and students, will not come through totally unharmed. However, I do think it will get better. It has to get better, right?
No matter what we are going through in society, there will always be a need for great teachers in our nation. Therefore, educators are needed. They are truly the backbone of not only the education system but America in general.
We have to invest in our education system and we can’t invest in it without investing in our teachers. If we want to see a return on our efforts to keep citizens educated we have to make sure teachers are getting the support they need and a livable wage. Anything less and we are all in trouble.
Above all, let’s work together to get our teachers back in the classroom teaching again and if you are curious to see your state’s shortage data, visit the U.S. Department of Education’s Teacher Shortage Area page.