BIRMINGHAM, Alabama. – Everywhere, it seems back to school was overshadowed by concerns about a teacher shortage.
The US Secretary of Education has called for investments to prevent teachers from quitting. A teachers’ union leader has described it as a five-call emergency. Reporting has warned of a crisis in teaching.
In reality, there is little evidence that teacher turnover has increased nationwide or that educators are leaving in droves.
Certainly, many schools struggle to find enough educators. However, the challenges are more related to recruitment, particularly for non-teaching positions. Schools crammed with federal pandemic aid money are creating new jobs and struggling to fill them at a time of low unemployment and stiff competition for workers of all kinds.
Schools had long before the COVID-19 pandemic Difficulty recruiting enough teachers in some regions, particularly parts of the south. There is also a critical shortage of teachers across the country in areas such as special education and bilingual education.
In some districts, the shortage has resulted in children having fewer or less qualified teachers.
In the Black Belt of rural Alabama, there were no certified math teachers at Bullock County Public Middle School last year.
“It’s really affecting the kids because they’re not learning what they need to learn,” said Christopher Blair, the district’s former superintendent. “When you have these uncertified, emergency, or inexperienced teachers, the students are in classrooms that they don’t go into to get that level of rigor and teaching experience.”
while the nation information on job offers in several states is missingnational pain points are obvious.
For starters, the pandemic triggered the largest decline in education employment ever. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of employees in public schools fell from nearly 8.1 million in March 2020 to 7.3 million in May. Employment has since risen again to 7.7 million, but that still leaves schools with around 360,000 jobs short.
“We’re still trying to dig out of that hole,” said Chad Aldeman, policy director at Georgetown University’s Edunomics Lab.
It is not known how many of those jobs lost were apprenticeships or other staff such as bus drivers – support positions that schools find particularly difficult to fill. A RAND survey of school leaders this year found that around three-quarters of school leaders said they did trying to hire more backup workers58% are trying to hire more bus drivers and 43% are trying to hire more tutors.
Still, the problems are not as closely linked to teacher departures as many would like to believe.
Surveys of teachers have shown that many are considering leaving their jobs. You are under pressure to keep Children safe from gunsGet them scientific and bypass pandemic mental health challenges and behavior.
National Education Association union leader Becky Pringle tweeted in April, “The teacher shortage is a five-alarm crisis.” But a Brown University study found Sales largely unchanged among states that had data.
Dropout rates from education have increased slightly this year, but that’s true across the nation, and teachers are far more likely to stay in their jobs than a typical worker.
The main reason why recruitment was so difficult was because the number of vacancies has increased. Many schools said they plan to use federal aid money to create new jobs, and in some cases are trying to hire even more staff than before the pandemic. Some neighboring schools are competing for fewer applicants as college enrollments for teacher preparation programs have declined.
The Upper Darby School District in Pennsylvania is looking to fill around 70 positions, primarily bus drivers, lunch workers and substitute teachers. But it cannot find enough applicants. The district has warned families that on days when there is a shortage of subs, it may have to drop out of school or switch to distance learning.
“It has become financial competition from district to district to do this, and that’s unfortunate for children in communities who deserve equal opportunities across the state,” said Superintendent Daniel McGarry.
The number of job vacancies has prompted some states and school systems to relax credential requirements to expand the pool of applicants. US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona told reporters last week that creative approaches are needed to hire more teachers, such as retired educators, but schools should not lower standards.
Schools in the south tend to struggle with vacancies for teachers. A federal survey found an average of 3.4 vacancies per school from this summer; this number was lowest in the west, with an average of 2.7 vacancies, and highest in the south, with 4.2 vacancies.
In Birmingham, the school district is struggling to fill about 50 teaching positions, including 15 in special education, despite $10,000 signing bonuses for special education teachers. Jenikka Oglesby, a district human resources officer, says the problem is partly due to low salaries in the South, which don’t always offset the lower cost of living.
The school system in Moss Point, a small town near the Mississippi Gulf Coast, has raised wages to attract more applicants. But other districts nearby have done the same. Some teachers realized they could make $30,000 more by working 30 minutes away in Mobile, Alabama.
“Personally, I’ve lost some really good teachers to Mobile County Schools,” said Tenesha Batiste, Moss Point District Human Resources Director. And she’s also lost some not-so-great teachers, she added — people who broke their contracts and quit three days before the start of the school year.
“It’s the job that makes everyone else possible, but they get paid once a month and they can go to Chick-fil-A in some places and make more money,” Batiste said.
A bright spot for Moss Point this year are four student teachers from the University of Southern Mississippi. You will spend the school year working with children as part of a residency program for prospective educators. The state has injected nearly $10 million in federal aid into residency programs in hopes that residents will stay and become teachers in their assigned districts.
Michelle Dallas, a teacher in a first-grade classroom at Moss Point, recently transitioned from a career in mental health and is confident she wants to be a teacher.
“That’s why I’m here,” she said, “to fulfill my calling.”
This story is part of an Associated Press collaboration with AL.com, The Christian Science Monitor, The Dallas Morning News, The Fresno Bee in California, The Hechinger Report, The Seattle Times, and The Post and Courier in Charleston, South Carolina.
Associated Press writers Brooke Schultz in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Collin Binkley in Washington, DC, and Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, NY contributed to this report. Lurye reported from New Orleans. Schultz is a corps member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that brings journalists into local newsrooms to cover undercover topics.
The Associated Press education team is supported by the Carnegie Corporation of New York. The AP is solely responsible for all content.
For more information on starting school, see: https://apnews.com/hub/back-to-school
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https://www.local10.com/news/national/2022/09/12/teacher-shortages-are-real-but-not-for-the-reason-you-heard/ Teacher shortages are real, but not for the reasons you’ve heard