4 Things Educators Should Know About Teacher Shortages
Education is a field that’s ever-changing, as most teachers are no doubt aware. You have to be mighty flexible to be a teacher, rolling with the punches of curriculum changes, priority shifts, and societal/cultural evolutions that make your job feel brand-new each every year. (Sometimes, each and every day.) So, what’s new in 2015? Well, teacher shortages, for one thing. Let’s take a look at a few points educators should be aware of about this school year’s job market.
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1. There are teacher shortages in districts across the country.
Just a few years ago, it seemed as though teachers were getting laid off left and right – as if hoards of new teachers were just waiting in the wings to replace them. But now, there are significant teacher shortages across the country. The U.S. Department of Education has prepared a list of teacher shortages, tracking changes since 1990.
2. Certain jobs are more widely available than others.
As is often the case, the shortages seem to be most prevalent for science, math, and special education positions. Also, the demand for bilingual educators is high, as English language learning becomes a greater priority for a lot of districts.
3. The recession sparked layoffs that are starting to correct.
The teacher shortage might actually suggest good news economically. In recent years, budget constraints caused layoffs nationwide, but the situation was especially drastic in California. According to Labor Department figures, California schools lost 82,000 jobs from 2008 to 2012. This year, 21,500 positions are available. Unfortunately, the state issues fewer than 15,000 new teaching credentials a year. At this rate, it will take quite a while for districts to correct the damage done by the recession.
4. We should think about why fewer people are going into teaching.
Maybe it was the recession that turned people away for the field. Perhaps the layoffs that flooded the headlines in recent years scared students toward work that felt more secure. The fact is, nationally, enrollment in teacher preparation programs dropped 30 percent from 2010 to 2014. And, retaining teachers once they have gotten into the profession has proven to be problematic as well.
There are probably a lot of reasons folks have left teaching (or never entered in the first place) and we should focus on improving the situation now before it gets any more out of hand. Teachers deserve more respect, more autonomy, and paychecks that they can live on. Given the current state of education, how can we blame today’s young workers for considering a different path?
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