The pandemic triggered a teacher exodus, and teacher shortages are still squeezing America’s schools.
big picture: The demand for teachers far exceeds the supply. Many teachers are retiring or leaving the profession due to the stress of the pandemic, and universities are not hiring new ones fast enough.
why it matters: Schools are hastily bridging shortages, switching to virtual learning or closing down entirely in a matter of days. And the quality of students’ education is at stake, as Erin Doherty of Nerdshala reports.
- “It’s a problem that existed before the pandemic, it’s exacerbated by the pandemic, and teacher shortages won’t disappear with the pandemic,” says Michael Rice, Michigan’s state superintendent of public instruction.
By numbers: Nationally, there were 575,000 fewer local and state education workers in October 2021 compared to February 2020 latest jobs report,
- And while health concerns and the tensions flowing between virtual and in-person learning eluded teachers, school support staff and administrators in 2020, they are not coming back to school even when the pandemic subsides.
- A total of 65,000 public education workers left the industry between September and October alone, According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics,
What are you saying: Almost every sector is grappling with labor shortages during the pandemic, but the problem is particularly acute in public education.
“Teacher pay had fallen in the few years before the pandemic, reducing the supply of teachers,” says Susanna Loeb, an education economist and director of Brown University’s Annenberg Institute. “So the teacher shortage may actually be greater than the shortage in other areas, which are more pandemic-related.”
- “Part of the difficulty is short-term, but part can be long-term and varies greatly from state to state in the US”
pay gap In 2018, teachers and the rest of the comparatively educated workforce accounted for about 21%. In 1996 this disparity was much less than 6%, according to an analysis From the Institute of Economic Policy.
- And while teacher salaries have increased this year, the group’s pay benefits 0.7% The average was half of 1.5% for all civilian workers in the previous quarter.
- All this is motivating the existing trainers to move towards new careers and discouraging new college graduates By becoming a teacher.
- “Our state universities are not producing enough teachers for the state,” Justin Fryer, the superintendent of Lisbon Public Schools in North Dakota, tells Nerdshala.
Effect: Schools – and students – are suffering. When teachers take leave or have to enter quarantine due to COVID-19, districts cannot backfill them. “Finding alternatives has been a tremendous problem,” Fryer says.
In some cases, it pays more to work at McDonald’s than to be a substitute teacher in the US, Bloomberg report, On top of that, substitute teachers are often older, retired instructors who are afraid to enter high-risk areas such as classrooms in the midst of a pandemic.
- There are three schools in Ann Arbor, Michigan Linked back to the days of distance learning To deal with the shortage of staff.
- Denver Public Schools is starting a period of online learning — and kicking off Thanksgiving break a day before the squeeze is due, Alayna Alvarez of Nerdshala Denver reports.
- Schools in Seattle and Bellevue, Washington gave students Friday off Due to shortage of staff.
Fixing a Broken Labor Market for Teachers Comes down to funding, experts say.
- More significant pay increases would help recruit and retain teachers, and funding for training programs could help the school’s support staff become instructors.
- Rice says a bus driver became a teacher in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and a second shift mentor became a teacher in Clifton, New Jersey. Support staff who have the passion and experience working with children can make excellent teachers if districts have the funds to send them back to school, he says.
Bottom-line: “We have to rebuild a profession that has been decimated,” says Rice.