“Because one teacher made a seat for me, I found my passion.”
~ Rebecka Peterson, 2023’s National Teacher of the Year

FACT:  A June 2023 analysis conducted by districtadministration.com found that:

  • Nearly 30% of teachers left the profession during the 2021-22 school year vs. 24% pre-pandemic.
  • Nearly 50% of all public schools had full- or part-time teacher vacancies.
  • About 33% of teachers plan to leave in the next 3 years: 40% by retiring; 30% by heading to the private sector.

FACT:  As the 2023-24 school year launches, teacher shortages abound to the tune of “tens of thousands in the U.S.—and more than 160,00-jobs filled by under-qualified teachers,” says Tuan Nguyen, an education professor at Kansas State University.

As he points out, “The narrative of what it means to be a teacher around this country has gotten worse in the last ten years, as schools are repeatedly dragged into political conflicts.”

So, how to fill the emptiness? States/districts are pulling out all the stops:

  1. Some, like Virginia which had more than 3,500 teacher vacancies last year, have turned to for-profit teacher certification companies, such as iteach and Teachers of Tomorrow, to recruit and train teachers. However, writes USA Today‘s Elaine S. Povich, “Some argue that those who take the programs are not as well trained as traditionally credentialed teachers and will do a disservice to students.” Moreover, Teachers of Tomorrow is now on probation in Texas for “misleading potential teachers in its advertising and hasn’t shown its training was based on research.”
  2. About 12 states, including California, have already or are considering relaxing standards for teachers by eliminating once required exams.
  3. Some states like Arizona are using “temporary” teachers by allowing substitute teachers to take on full-time teaching duties.
  4. Several states, such as Colorado, Alabama, and Idaho, now allow teacher apprentices to take over as classroom teachers—some before they even earn their bachelor’s degrees. As Education Week’s Madeline Will explains, “The Biden administration has heavily promoted registered teacher-apprenticeship programs as an opportunity for a new stream of federal funding, leading some to fear that more states could adopt similar allowances.”

Desperation abounds, and truth be told, as a 2021 University of Texas at Austin College of Education national study of teacher prep found: “In every tested subject, students do better if they have university-certified teachers…”

Plus, just 59% of those “alternatively certified” teachers stick with it vs. 73% of those university certified.

Meanwhile, this just in…

Pennsylvania state Representative Johanny Cededa-Freytiz’s has just put out a bill would allow non-citizens with a valid immigrant visa, work visa, or employment authorization document to teach in the commonwealth. Currently, noncitizens can only get provisional certificates if they declare in writing that they plan to become U.S. citizens.

And so it goes…

The right fixes or not fixes at all?

~ With thanks and happy Labor Day wishes, Carol