States renewing efforts to tackle teacher shortages
Monday, March 05, 2018
Like many other states, New York is suffering from teacher shortages. What was a case of a few districts facing a shortage has blown up into a major issue, as bad as the looming national crisis.
Part of the problem is the upcoming retirement of many educators. While that is a natural course of events, the number of impending retirements is significantly outpacing the number of new teachers.
New York has seen a 49 percent drop in teaching program enrollments since 2009, as college students are no longer opting for teaching degrees. The state's 600,000-member teachers' union is also looking at 32 percent of its members who are eligible for retirement soon. This is worrisome indeed.
Shortages lie in every segment, from elementary to high school. It seems that specialty subjects like foreign languages, ESL and STEM groups are particularly impacted. It’s getting to the point that retired teachers are being called upon to come back and teach again. Obviously, that's not a sustainable solution, and districts need to attract new talent and focus on retention.
Some districts are tackling the problem by adopting campus recruitment methods like corporations. They are partnering with colleges to inform and entice students to take up teaching.
In some areas, college students have the option to take up substitute teaching. This gives them a taste for the career and helps fulfill their observation hours toward their degree requirements. Other innovative approaches include buddy programs between students of different grades and residency programs for college students.
One major reason for the shortage is demotivation. The rigorous testing regimen was meant to make the system efficient. Instead, it has tied student performance on standardized tests with annual evaluations of teachers and principals. The scale rated educators as effective or ineffective, which is demoralizing.
The teacher evaluation process became politicized and received a lot of negative press, which added to the shortage woes. That along with the tight budget years and teacher layoffs has been hard on the system.
But things are looking up. The federal government no longer links the mandated student tests with teacher evaluations. And New York and nine other states are working to do away with the practice. The feeling of negativity within education that reduced morale and prevented future teachers from entering the field may lessen in future.
Virginia recently passed a bill that allows military spouses to keep their teaching license if they are relocated to the state. By doing away with the tedious licensure process, they can address the statewide teacher shortage appropriately and proactively. This will help both teachers and schools, and benefit their students.
In Louisiana, certain counties are trying to address teacher shortage by urging lawmakers to make changes. In their case, they want to stay ahead of the looming teacher shortage that is gripping the nation. They want to address key areas like secondary math, ESL, secondary science and special education. They are also looking at addressing the lack of diversity in the current workforce.
California's teacher shortage is not only persisting but seems to be getting worse in some districts. A report released by the learning Policy Institute shows that the shortages have grown acute, especially in areas like STEM and special education. Some districts are struggling to find credentialed teachers in bilingual and career technical education.
High-minority and high-poverty districts are suffering more. It is affecting students from these areas as well as the whole state. In recent years, the state has spent close to nearly $70 million to tackle the shortage.
From underwriting the cost of a teacher preparation programs to expanding blended programs, they are trying out all options available to them.
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