Magazine article District Administration

Teacher Shortage at 'Crisis' Levels

Magazine article District Administration

Teacher Shortage at 'Crisis' Levels

Article excerpt

Many classrooms will remain without a permanent teacher this fall, as the teacher shortage becomes more severe in some states. Major enrollment drops in teacher prep programs signal worsening conditions in the coming years.

"It's a crisis," says Bill McDiarmed, dean of the University of North Carolina School of Education. "I don't know who will be teaching kids in the future."

In North Carolina, enrollment in teacher prep programs is down 27 percent in the past four years. In California, it has dropped 53 percent in the past five years. Other states, including New York and Texas, have seen large declines. The greatest shortages are in special education, math, science and bilingual ESL teachers.

The political and economic climate has created a perfect storm, says McDiarmed. Teacher salaries remain low, public school funding is down, and some states have done away with tenure protections. The Common Core, highstakes assessments, and teacher evaluations based on test results have also scared would-be teachers away from the profession, he adds.

"Against this backdrop, we hear a steady drumbeat of how our schools are failing and teachers are responsible, so that's a disincentive," McDiarmed says. "Because of the policy context and new standards and assessments, teachers feel like they have less control over their professional lives and don't get to exercise their professional knowledge, judgment and skills."

Arizona vacancies

In late July, Arizona had at least 1,000 vacant teacher positions to fill with only a few weeks left until the school year started.

"This has been a new phenomenon in the last three school years," says Debbi Burdick, superintendent of Cave Creek USD, a district of 5,400 students located 35 miles north of Phoenix. "Last year, we went the entire year with three positions unfilled. …

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