Magazine article District Administration

Districts Tackle Teacher Shortages with Higher Salaries, Mentoring

Magazine article District Administration

Districts Tackle Teacher Shortages with Higher Salaries, Mentoring

Article excerpt

Facing a ballooning teacher shortage in recent years, Clark County School District in Nevada launched a social media and email recruiting strategy, sending messages to self-identified school teachers over LinkedIn and reaching more than 2.5 million on Facebook.

"When you have a staffing crisis, you have to come up with something different to do," says chief recruitment officer Michael Gentry, who was hired last year. "My only mission, every single day, is to recruit teachers."

Serious shortages in math, science and special education teachers have been reported in more than 40 states, and more than 30 states are seeing serious shortages for ELL teachers, says research by the Learning Policy Institute. The profession is losing about 200,000 teachers a year. The biggest shortages are in schools that serve low-income and minority students.

To reverse the trend, some districts are increasing pay or benefits. Many teachers start out their careers with expensive college loans to pay off and they need incentive to become teachers, says Tiffany Cain, senior policy analyst with the National Education Association.

Respecting the profession also matters, says American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten. The last decade has been about "'blame and shame teachers'--suggesting they're responsible for everything in life." She also advocates for higher teacher wages.

Negotiations, bonuses

Clark County, for example, negotiated a higher minimum first-year teaching salary of $40,900 for this school year, up from $34,637 the previous year, to attract candidates. The district, which employs more than 18,000 teachers, paid for it by belt-tightening in areas such as maintenance, delaying the purchase of a new human resources management system and funds saved through teacher attrition, Gentry says.

The district also revamped its hiring process to prevent delays that may allow time for a qualified candidate to take a position elsewhere. …

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