What’s Happening with the US Teacher Shortage

During the three years of the COVID-19 epidemic, a severe shortage of teachers emerged in over seventy percent of the states in the United States, causing considerable alarm among public schools as well as government authorities.

In phone calls and texts, along with interviews with ABC News, many teachers cited constraining time demands, persistent behavioral issues, and an absence of administrative support as reasons for leaving the profession between 2019 and 2021, as reported in a Government Accountability Office (GAO) analysis of pandemic learning issued in June 2022.

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Where the Shortages Are

Even after repeated emails and phone calls, ABC News was only able to get a response from education departments and allied agencies in 49 of the 50 states.

Many states have said that they are still conducting district data surveys and compiling vacancy figures that will be made public later this year.

Neither Puerto Rico nor the states of Georgia, North Carolina, Montana, Tennessee, and Oregon had access to their respective statistics.

States like Florida, New Mexico, and New Hampshire didn’t report any teacher shortages, and neither did Louisiana.

Officials at the Texas Department of Education have reported that the state is hiring more teachers during the current school year compared to any year before, and new teacher recruitment rates remain high. However, Texas’ public education systems, like those in many other states, have struggled to fill open posts for a variety of reasons.

Why There is a Teachers’ Shortage in the US

Educators told Teen Vogue that while many people may attribute the shortage to the pandemic, in truth, COVID-19 merely exacerbated an issue that had been building for quite some time. Staffing problems had existed for a long time before the outbreak.

Many instructors have left the profession because of the low compensation they receive. According to data released by the Economic Policy Institute, teachers earn around 23% below other college graduates within comparable fields. Many educators have left the profession as a result of low compensation, the stress of working during a pandemic, and other factors.

Issues with morale and compensation, rising academic and political pressures, and health and safety worries. Another generation of people who may have been teachers are put off by the profession’s tarnished image and the sacrifices it would require to enter the field.

A poll found that one in five educators also has a second job.

What Teacher Shortage Means for Learners

It is common knowledge that COVID has made it more challenging for many children of all ages to learn and attend school, despite the fact that there are some rare exceptions to this rule. Those educators who have made a daily commitment to the classroom and the care of their students are acutely aware of the effects that their pupils’ unstable mental, financial, and physical states have on them.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, she has noticed a rise in the number of pupils she works with who are living in poverty and without a home. There has been a rise in the number of students who, along with their families, are homeless, have low incomes, and lack health insurance.

Both the capacity of our students to learn and the ability of our instructors to teach is being impacted as a result of this situation. Our teachers now find themselves required to show up to the school to fill in the holes left by absent teachers.

In light of the challenges that distance and hybrid learning have presented over the course of the previous two years, students deserve continuity in their education as well as additional instructional support.

Over the course of the previous two years, there has been an amazing amount of disturbance in schools.

What Can Done About the Shortage?

The answers to the problem of the shortage of educators are simple: Teachers should be paid more, for one thing. While raises in salary are critical, the long-term viability of the teaching profession requires additional measures, such as increased funding and a reorganization of the classroom. Transforming teachers’ working conditions is a long-term solution.

It is no longer viable to have one teacher for every 30 kids; instead, we need a team approach in which each teacher is paired with either an aide or a student teacher.

And it would appear that fewer individuals are deciding to pursue careers in education. According to research conducted by the Learning Policy Institute, the number of students enrolling in programs to become teachers decreased by a third between 2010 and 2018.

Long-term structural changes will certainly assist in persuading people to pursue careers in the sector and increase the number of persons entering the profession to fill the current vacancies.

It’s understandable to feel hopeless about the teaching shortage, but the good news is that the situation isn’t hopeless. The city of Detroit shows how things can be better. There were one thousand people interested in filling the year’s 140 teaching positions in the city’s Public Schools Community District by June 2021.

So many people applied; why was that? The district raised starting salaries by 33%, provided hazard pay for teachers who worked through the pandemic, and rewarded those who took on more difficult responsibilities, such as special education, with $15,000 incentives.

Increasing pay, enhancing working conditions, and fostering an atmosphere of mutual respect among educators, parents, and students will help fill these vacant teaching positions.