The message is clear: Fewer and fewer of our college students are opting for teaching careers, suggesting a dim outlook for school districts in need of filling vacancies. Indeed, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, enrollment continues to rise, but there are not enough education majors in the pipeline to fill the bill. This is especially true in urban and rural settings; while, at the same time, the demand is greatest for math, science, and special education teachers.
In fact, according to NCES, the number of college students graduating with degrees in education slipped from 106,300 in 2004 to just 98,000 in 2014, nationwide. And in Pennsylvania, the findings are even bleaker. In 2013, the commonwealth awarded 18,000 teaching certificates; last year, that number dropped to t 7,180–a 61% decrease in just two years.
The decline is blamed by many not just on the fact that teachers are paid less than those in other professions, but, according to Temple University’s Gregory Anderson, the public’s “jaundiced view” of schools. As he puts it: “If I’m an undergraduate student, teaching as a profession is not necessarily one shining with possibilities.”
With teacher morale at an all-time low thanks at least in some part to the countless federally mandated education reforms these past several years, such as basing evaluations on students’ standardized test performance, along with the constant drumbeat about our failing schools and ineffective teachers, none of this should surprise.